Even though we are getting more digitalized all the time, there is no better way of acquiring new client accounts than the good old word-of-mouth. The word-of-mouth is realized in the form of referrals, which are the best leads as they are usually based on actual need and they are given to the prospect by a trusted person.
There are two types of referrals and they both work well. However, IP experts seem to discard the latter one of these two for some reason.
First type of referral is a passive referral. That means that in the past you have provided quality service to a client and now a prospect approaches you based on a recommendation made by that previous client. This referral type is passive as you did nothing, other than your work, to instigate the referral.
Second type of referral is an active referral. By active referrals I mean referrals that you have actually asked your existing client to give to you. As you have specifically asked for them, you have more control over them.
You have no control over passive referrals and that is why it is important that your whole client acquisition process is not based on passive referrals. If that is the case you are basically just “hoping” that someone gives you a call based on a recommendation. That is why you should start relying more on the active referrals. You have more control over them and to be frank, what do you have to lose if your client says no?
You should start asking for referrals from all of your clients. Here are three tips on how to do it
1) Do not be afraid of asking for referrals. IP Experts are generally quite humble and do not want to make too much noise. In generating new business that is not necessarily the best trait to have. If you provide quality work to your clients, they usually are happy to share a few connections with you. So, I say it again, don’t be afraid of asking referrals.
2) Ask for referrals before you enter into the agreement. When you are trying to get referrals after you have done the work, you client will have no obligation to do so. It is much easier to ask them beforehand. You can ask in negotiations for example:
“Mr./Mrs. Prospect/Client if you are satisfied with the quality of our work, which I am sure will be the case, would you mind introducing me/us to two of your connections who might need help in similar intellectual property issues?”
3) Do not ask for referrals, ask for introductions. Referral has a slightly negative connotation in it. Referral basically means that “You should do business with me”. Introduction, on the other hand, is way more neutral in that regard. Introduction is more friendly as it communicates the desire to get to know to the person or company first and if there is a need for doing business, then business is on the table.