Are referrals the primary (or only) source of new clients for your consulting firm?
(I can say this confidently, because virtually every consulting firm derives most of its new clients from referrals.)*
Therefore, it’s worth digging into the whole topic of referrals.
Alas, it turns out that there are too many nuances, critical elements and lessons about referrals to be neatly captured in one, short article. Therefore, we’re covering referrals in three parts.
Referrals Part 1:
What Your Consulting Firm Really Wants from a Referral
a.k.a. The Tantalizing Tales of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle Kliént
The six tales below reveal different moments of opportunity for referrals, with increasing levels of impact for your consulting firm. (Each tale is independent of the others; one does not lead to the next.)
The Tale of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle the ENDORSER
Priscilla Prospecto stumbles upon your consulting firm’s marvelous marketing, then reaches out for your help.
Before she engages your firm, however, she wants to speak to a few references.
You point her to Kyle Kliént, who speaks favorably of you. Priscilla signs the contract and you consult happily ever after.
The Tale of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle the SUPPORTER
Priscilla reveals her biggest, unsolved challenge to her monthly mastermind group, then asks the group to recommend consulting firms that could help her.
Your client Kyle recommends your consulting firm to Priscilla. She follows up, you hit it off, and you transform her world into unicorns and rainbows.
The Tale of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle the ADVOCATE
Priscilla tearfully relates her tale of woe to her long-time business friend and peer, Kyle. Suddenly remembering the good work your consulting firm performed for him when he suffered under similar circumstances, Kyle suggests Priscilla give you a call.
She does, you win the contract, and Priscilla becomes your consulting firm’s best client ever.
The Tale of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle the CHAMPION
Kyle speaks up at his monthly mastermind meeting: “I’m not sure this will help anyone or not,” he starts, “but I’ve been working with this great consulting firm…” He then enthusiastically describes your work together.
Intrigued by Kyle’s impromptu speech, Priscilla reaches out to you and, in a veritable blink of an eye, becomes your newest client.
The Tale of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle the ENTHUSIAST
“Priscilla!” Kyle breathlessly exclaims over the phone. “I just had to call you. I’ve been working with a consulting firm the past few months and it’s been so amazing and rewarding that I needed to share. Hey, can I be a guest speaker at your mastermind group? They might be interested in my experience too.”
Priscilla is so moved by Kyle’s enthusiasm, she calls you and insists your consulting firm work with her. Who are you to disagree?
The Tale of Priscilla Prospecto and Kyle the BROADCASTER
Priscilla is scanning her LinkedIn feed when she notices a post from Kyle Kliént—a contact she doesn’t know well, but respects nonetheless. In his post, Kyle strongly recommends working with your consulting firm.
Two days later, Priscilla sees another post from Kyle lauding your firm.
Intrigued, Priscilla reaches out to your consulting firm. You reach back. After plenty or reaching on both sides, you ride off into the sunset together.
Most consulting firms rely on the first moment of opportunity (Endorsement) and hope that higher impact moments of opportunity will pop up on occasion.
You can do better.
Your consulting firm really wants more Champions, Enthusiasts and Broadcasters.
So, ask for it.
Seriously. Ask your clients to be Enthusiasts or Broadcasters on your behalf.
Your clients love your work, you run a business, and asking them to toot a horn for you is a fair request.
Offer your clients a sample email, LinkedIn announcement or tweet they can post—the business equivalent of a home contractor’s yard sign.
Skip the salesy language. A simple message like, “Chocolate Consulting Group has helped me a ton–I recommend you check them out too” works magic.
Does any of your business come from referrals?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.