Where do most of your new clients come from?
I’m going to take a guess and say that the answer is ‘word of mouth referrals’.
You see most accountancy practices are built on a solid foundation of word of mouth referrals from friends and industry acquaintances, and this makes up the primary growth strategy for the majority of practices.
But why is this the case?
It ultimately comes down to 3 things:
- A lack of understanding about marketing, what it is and how it works. You can find out more about how to get it working in your practice in this article here.
- Not having the time, headspace or resources to sit down and figure marketing out
- You’re happy with your rate of growth and think you don’t need to do any further marketing
But what I’ve found over the years is that although practices do well in terms of the number of referrals they receive, they’re missing a trick…
By not systemising your referrals process you are undoubtedly leaving money on the table. You’re limiting the number of referrals you could be getting and stunting the level of growth of your practice.
We all know that referral leads convert much better than leads generated elsewhere.
So why not focus on systemising your referrals process to bring in even more of these high-converting leads?
A successful referrals process is all about the system
One of the best ways to generate more referrals is to proactively ask for them.
It sounds simple but many practice owners are put off doing this as they don’t want to seem too pushy.
But in reality, if your clients are happy with your services then they’ll more than likely be pleased to recommend you to others.
This is why the system you set up around asking for referrals makes all the difference.
Most practice owners that I speak to think there is only one main way to ask for referrals.
But, if you want to build a system around this, you want to embed it in a number of different places throughout your practice.
Get your team involved
If you truly want to grow your business and want to have a systemised referrals process, it’s important that your client-facing team are involved in this where possible.
There’s no point setting up a system for referrals if you’re the only one aware of it and prepared to use it.
If you have a proper model or system in place your staff will feel more comfortable asking for referrals than they otherwise might – after all, it’s something a lot of people don’t like doing.
By creating a system you’re showing staff how to ask for referrals properly (without sounding pushy and needy) and also letting them know it’s something important to you and to the growth of your practice.
Is it visible?
In systemising asking for referrals, ask yourself if you have it written down in some way, shape or form on documents and correspondence that your client sees and comes into contact with.
This can include all of your meeting agendas, correspondence letters, email footers, customer satisfaction surveys and more.
If you have this systemised throughout your practice just think how much more awareness your clients would have of sending you a couple of referrals.
Most people are so busy that they don’t think to offer referrals and recommendations unless they’re directly asked for their opinion.
But, by making the fact you’d like to be referred more visible, you’re planting a seed that will stick in their mind. Then, when the time is right, they’ll be more likely to recommend your services.
It’s not enough to simply sit around and wait for referrals to roll in. It’s important that you choose to be proactive in this process.
A great way to do this is to identify your top 10% of clients and arrange meetings to go and see all of them.
When asking for referrals, you’ll be surprised by the results you get.
Most of your clients will be happy to meet up with you and, if they’re happy with your services and the value you provide, they’ll be happy to refer and recommend your practice to others.
As well as discussing referrals during face-to-face meetings with existing clients, there is another effective referral tool you can make use of – LinkedIn.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people within your network who are well connected and ask if they’d be willing to share contacts. Once you’ve identified people who could be potential prospects you can then get in touch, establish a relationship, follow up and hopefully convert some into clients.
Know when to ask for a referral
It’s also important that you and your team recognise that there are certain opportunities that crop up naturally in business when asking for a referral might come a bit easier. These can be things like:
- After receiving good feedback or a positive response to a customer satisfaction survey
- After the completion of a project that has gone particularly well
- When a client recognises and points out that your practice have gone above and beyond with their service
If you and your employees don’t use these opportunities when clients are especially pleased with your services to ask for referrals, then you’re undoubtedly missing out.
So ask yourself, what steps can you take today to systemise your referrals process in your accountancy practice?