Call Joe in Florida
If you need a plumber, would you prefer hiring someone you found in the local phone book, or someone your neighbor used for a similar problem and highly recommends? If you need surgery, would you prefer finding your surgeon through research on surgeons.com, or seeing a surgeon who performed successful surgery on a family member, or who is recognized as the top specialist in his field by your trusted internist?
I'd be surprised if your answer was not the second choice in both cases. People want to meet their professionals through introductions.
This means one of the easiest and most effective ways to build your practice is through your existing clients, former clients and other people who already know you. Of course, they must be willing to recommend you to others, and there are two things you can do immediately to facilitate this:
(1) Be referable; and
(2) Be on their minds.
"Being referable" is about developing relationships that go beyond the particular services you provide to your clients and others. It's about knowing them as people, and treating them in a way that makes them want to tell stories—good stories—about you.
Providing great service isn't enough. Yes, competence and excellent service are important, but these individuals really want a sense that you truly really care about them. Find out your clients' birthdays and anniversaries. Know what flavors of ice cream their children like.
My friend, Stu, is a master at this. In the first few months of our business relationship, he called me to ask for important dates in my life. "I already know your birthday," he said, "but when's your anniversary? When is your wife's birthday? What are your kids' birthdays?"
I knew exactly what Stu was doing, and I was thinking to myself, I could never just call up a client and blatantly ask about birthdays. He or she would know I was just putting them into my database.
Then, Stu called me on my wife's birthday and told me to wish her a happy one. He made a similar call for each of my children's birthdays. He called to sing Happy Birthday to me on my birthday. He called to wish us a happy anniversary. And he kept calling year after year.
It no longer matters that his call about those dates was so transparent. I smile every time he "remembers" one of these occasions.
Stu also knows that "being on their minds" means having as much contact with them as possible. He has found five reasons to call each year that are not directly related to our business relationship. He has assured himself that if I run into someone who needs his services, he's the one I'll recommend. He has made me a "referral partner."
I learned early in my law practice that my clients met dozens of lawyers each year, and tended to refer friends or business associates to the last one they ran into, not me. They didn’t think I provided poor service or unsatisfactory work; it was a matter of convenience. They had the card of the lawyer they met last week right there, and it was just easier than finding my number after not hearing from me for months—or years.
Reach out to the people you already know, especially current and former clients who were satisfied with your work. Have a conversation with them:
In the meantime, keep reaching...
Note: If you also need to master a clear, consistent sales process. Click to register for my good friend and PMG President Dennis M. Postema’s “The 7 Steps of a Successful Sales Process” live webinar on Wednesday.
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