So many accountants tell me that most of their new clients come from word of mouth and client referrals. In most cases however this seems to be a function of luck rather than planned in any way.
Have you ever thought about how you could make it easier for your contacts to know who would make a good referral for you? And to encourage such referrals rather than simply waiting and hoping they will make such referrals?
Here is a quick 5 point plan that could help you in this regard:
- Identify ten people (your Target Ten) who might know people who could be ideal referrals for you. Your Target Ten might include some good clients, lawyers, bankers or other professionals with whom you have worked and established a mutually trusting relationship.
- Consider what you would want your Target Ten to say when they are making referrals to you. You may intend to make different requests of each of your Target Ten. In each case, think about ONE person (or type of person) – not a shopping list of possibilities. You will invariably get more specific and valuable referrals if you are specific.
- Craft a couple of stories about similar clients you have helped and how they felt about your service etc. Your Target Ten will find it easier to recall your request if they can link this to a story. Use the RUBIK acronym to check whether your story/request is likely to help generate referrals.
- Talk with your Target Ten to find out what you could do to help them. Yes, that’s right. BEFORE you ask for referrals, ask what you can do to help each of them and then do it! Many of the people you offer to help will then ask you what they could do to help you. That’s when you share the information you noted down at steps 2 and 3.
- Keep the promises you make to help your Target Ten. After all, if you don’t keep your promises to help them, you can hardly expect others to do anything to help you.
I should add what may be surprising news for you.
No one really cares what you do as an accountant. What they care about is what you can do for them or for the people they know. Most of us find it easier to remember stories rather than bare facts. Telling stories about our clients (whilst retaining their confidence of course) can make it a lot easier to secure more of the referrals you would like.
The alternative is that you will continue to secure only the same old random referrals – some of which are time wasters and some of which are wholly unsuitable for the practice you are seeking to build.
Do let me know how you get on with your Target Ten and how many ideal referrals follow from you following this process.
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