How can lawyers and accountants win referrals while we’re still mainly working from home?

It’s amazing that almost 2 years in, many lawyers and accountants are still working more often from home than they are from the office.  However, this is unlikely to change any time soon as referrals are probably going to be your primary source of new work, I wanted to look at how lawyers and accountants can win referrals while we’re still mainly working from home.

Before I kick off with some practical tips, I need to tackle two large but essential elephants:

1. However strong your relationships were, they still need work if they’re going to stay strong (and stay productive) and win referrals while we’re working from home.

2. Even if you don’t think BD is possible, your competitors so.  This means that if you have pressed paused, you may find your contacts are working with your competitors by the time you try and reconnect.

This is – to apologetically steal a 2020 cliché – the new normal.  Life goes on and BD must follow suit.  Yes, face-to-face meetings aren’t some people’s first choice (though plenty of people are happy to have them!) but if we’ve learned something from the past two years, it’s there are highly effective alternatives to coffee, lunch, conferences and seminars.

How can lawyers and accountants stay visible and win referrals while working from home?

Coffee/lunch/drinks

I admit things are up in the air but if you are comfortable meeting in 2s and 4s, there’s no harm in emailing your key contacts to ask if they are too (when you’re both in town).

Some will say no of course (and then you can move on to the suggestions below) but in our experience just as many will welcome the chance to catch up.  This catch up gives you the perfect opportunity to ask them what they’re doing, what they have planned and see where you can collaborate.

Arrange a phone call

If they aren’t comfortable meeting, ask if they’d like to set up a call to catch up.   Why the phone?  Almost everyone is sick of video meetings (and this will only get worse as we have to keep having ‘work’ meetings on Teams and Zoom) so go old school and use your phone to talk.

Attend their events (physically or virtually)

A quick check of your contacts’ websites will show you what they are running and if you sign up it’ll give you an opportunity to show support, catch up and invite them for a coffee or a catch up call.

Support their events

If you look far enough ahead you may be able to spot an event you can help with.  This may be as a speaker or in terms of promoting it and/or inviting your clients along to bolster the audience.

Help them produce new content

Take a look at their blog sand if there’s something you could provide a complementary viewpoint from your professional perspective or co-author an update or more detailed white paper or ‘how to’ guide, that again gives you an excuse to get in touch.

Invite them to help you with your marketing

I’m guessing you have a newsletter/blog/podcast/educational programme that would benefit from the wisdom of an expert from another profession. 

Again, it’s the perfect opportunity to a) get in touch with your key contacts and b) offer them something that could help them win work.

Keep using social media

Although it’s not enormously personal, LinkedIn is a good way to stay in front of all your connections in one hit. 

Post relevant updates regularly (2 or 3 a week is plenty).  To make this easier you can use links to your firm’s new content or just pull stories of interest out the trade, national or local press.  

And do more to engage with your connections … like and share their posts.  Don’t be afraid to add a quick comment agreeing with the things you agree with. 

‘Saw this and thought of you’

This is unsophisticated and unstructured marketing at it’s very best.  It’s not new either.  It is however unbelievably impactful and effective.

When you or your firm publishes something new, email it over to the people you think will be interested in it with a personal cover note (asking, of course, if they want a coffee or a call).   

Better still – if you’re comfortable – send over something that relates to your contacts’ outside interests; have you seen an article on the type of food/holiday/sport/music they like?  This is even more powerful because it’s even more personal.

If you’d like to discuss how you can get more from your existing client and referrer relationships while we’re still in this hybrid working environment, please get in touch and we can find a convenient time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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