“I talk to my clients occasionally about introducing me to someone they know who might need my help,” expressed Art, a matrimonial attorney I work with. “But they always tell me that they can’t think of anyone.”
“Maybe that’s true,” I suggested. “Do you have a value discussion before you get on the subject of recommending you?”
“A value discussion?” Art asked. “You mean, like, asking them what they think of my services?”
“Exactly,” I replied.
“No way, man!” Art protested vehemently. “Most divorce clients are angry at everyone. They hate being in the situation they’re in, they hate paying me, they hate the whole process. If I ask them what they think of me or my services, I can’t imagine what would come out of their mouths.”
“Try it,” I suggested. “On all of your appointments this week, ask your clients how they feel about the service they’ve been getting, and see what happens.”
Art was skeptical, but he agreed to do what I asked.
When we spoke again the next week, I could hear Art trying to hold back his excitement.
“Every one of them said very positive, very flattering things,” he blurted. “The only negative comment had to do with me not checking in when nothing was going on with her case, so I promised to fix that and she was happy.”
“But here’s the real kicker,” he continued. “After we talked about how she felt, without my even bringing the subject up, one of them started to tell me about a friend who might need my help.”
One of the best ways to grow a practice of any kind is through referrals. Most professionals make the mistake of asking for referrals—or for the retainer, for that matter—before they have made sure not only that they’ve given value, but that the client has recognized it.
Discussions about your relationship with clients should come up often. Check in with them. Get them to tell you what is working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to hear the bad news. Studies tell us that only one in twenty-seven unhappy clients tell us they are unhappy. They just don’t use us anymore and they don’t recommend us.
Think about that figure. It means that if just one person does complain, twenty-six others were unhappy and didn’t tell you. If you don’t believe the statistic, think about the last time you went to a restaurant, were dissatisfied with the food or the service, and vowed never to come back, but didn’t tell the manager about it.
Most importantly, though, before you talk with your client about other people or companies he might know about who could use the same kind of help you are providing to him, make sure he tells you just how great your services are.
Start with a general question, like:
“Peter, I just want to make sure you’re getting the best service we can possibly give you, so I wanted to ask you how we’re doing.”
The answer to a question like this is likely to be positive, but without any detail. So next, get specific:
“What’s something that we’ve done that you’ve found to be particularly helpful?”
When he mentions one thing, ask him, “What else?” Keep asking this question until he’s out of answers.
Then, continue the value discussion by asking directed questions:
“Did you like how we jumped on that mistake and got it out in the open?”
Finally, ask “Is there anything more I can do for you now, or in the future?”
If the client assures you that she’s really happy, ask her if she knows someone like her (or her company) that could use the same kind of service. If she’s not happy, fix your service.
Asking clients about your value can have some great results. Start doing it immediately.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…