Referrals – whether from existing clients (recommendations), colleagues within the firm (cross-selling) and external third parties (intermediaries and professional contacts) – have always been an important source of new business for professionals in the legal, accountancy and property (real estate) markets.
Particularly so in commercial and consumer transactional situations.
So improving referrer management in the professions is a vital activity.
There are various sources of information about relationship management and key account management (KAM) both of a general nature and specifically for the professions – There are some relevant blog links below. But often these are from the perspective of those at the centre – who develop strategy and systems – rather than the perspective of the individual professional.
I am developing a methodology that bridges the gap between the strategic marketing perspective of the firm to the systems, steps and skills needed by individual professionals. In effect, the methodology spans the analytical, rational and central co-ordination elements right through to the people, emotional and individual behavioural aspects. An outline is shown below.
- Align and integrate with business strategy and marketing and selling campaigns
- Position (brand and messaging)
- Set goals and plan action
- Analyse and research types of referrer relationships
- Segment client and referrer groups and identify needs
- Adapt the value proposition for segments
- Manage information, knowledge, policies and activities (both on services – product knowledge – and on clients/referrers)
- Develop rewards and motivation and manage reputation and risk
- Monitor results and reciprocity
- Plan and focus individual and team activity
- Develop existing referrer relationships
- Establish relationships with target referrers
- Understand the psychology of relationships
- Develop communication and relationship management competencies
- Create, implement and support personal programmes
However, I am also conducting some informal research into how lawyers, accountants and property professionals decide who and how to refer their clients and work to. If you would like to participate in this study please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a short questionnaire (I’m not doing an e-survey as I anticipate mostly anecdotal responses). Your responses will remain confidential unless you indicate that you are happy to share elements.
Everyone who participates will receive a copy of the final report when it is produced later in 2015.