Earlier, we looked at some of the key issues around how firms can implement a more effective referral management programme to work along side their CRM.  In this blog, we’re going to list the ten golden rules so that you can use this as a check list to work out how well you’re doing and also to identify some things that you might consider doing differently.

Rule 1 – Tracking source of business is not just about marketing ROI.

There seems to be a view that filling in information about where a piece of business came from is merely an exercise in recording if a marketing campaign was successful or not.   This is not true.  It is almost certainly the case for every single fee earner within a professional services firm that there is a relatively small number of people in their network that throughout their careers have been responsible for directly awarding or introducing the vast majority of their work.  On that basis, the value of identifying who the next one of those “connectors” is likely to be is potentially huge.  Therefore understanding where your work is coming from is actual the MOST important part of CRM.

Rule 2 – Make capturing this information mandatory.

The process for capturing this information as part of the new business intake process needs changing and it needs to be mandatory.

Rule 3 – Make capturing this information validated.

It’s not sufficient for this to be mandatory, it also has to be validated.  What this means is that the field on the new business form, needs to look up the CRM system.  Linking a contact to a new matter automatically creates a Referral activity in CRM.

Rule 4 – Get rid of all the other useless information on the new business form.

The new business intake process is one of the only opportunities you will get to obtain client information from your professionals and as a result it should be a succinct exercise in intelligence gathering.  Focus on getting data that ONLY your professional will know such as:

  • Strength of relationship
  • Why did the client choose our firm?
  • What are the critical business issues affecting the client?

Rule 5 – Improve training around New Business Intake.

For most firms new business intake is done by the secretaries.  If the professional hasn’t explained to the secretary that this is a critical business process and not an administrative exercise, then it’s no wonder that the quality of data that comes through isn’t much good.

Rule 6 – Improve marketing campaign ROI information.

Although I said at the start that this was not just an exercise in measuring marketing ROI, it is actually about measuring that as well.   We should be identifying which marketing or business development initiative contributed to the success of winning this work?  It’s not about patting marketing people on the back, it’s about working out which of the hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars spent on events and newsletters are generating a return.   Don’t professionals want to know if their money is being spent effectively too?

Rule 7 – Referral management is NOT just about reciprocity.

Whilst tracking which other professional services firms from within your own industry give you work is very important, referral management is NOT just about that.   It’s about where ALL of your business comes from and I would be very surprised if that was not mostly from happy clients rather than from competitive firms or firms in your network.  We must not limit our thinking when it comes to referral management to just other professional services firms.

Rule 8– Identify those practice groups that rely most heavily on referral work.

If you’re going to get a new process implemented then you’re going to have to push at an open door first.  Therefore start with a group that relies heavily on referrals (although the irony is that of course ALL of them do)!

Rule 9 – Demonstrate the benefit of capturing the information. 

If we can design reports that show which channels and which referrers are generating the most business across the firm then it stands to reason that by giving our professionals something that they value, they’re much more likely to start providing the information in the first place.

Rule 10 – Remember New Business Intake is NOT an administrative process.    

Although I’ve said it before, I’m going to repeat it.  New business intake is the point at which your information management relationship is the most critical and it has all the positive attributes that an information capture process could have:

  • Fee earners have to do it – to get a client or job number
  • Fee earners want to do it  – to get paid
  • It’s not difficult

So there really is no excuse for NOT implementing an effective referral management process and the real point is, therefore, in the current economic climate can you afford not to?