People who are recommended to you almost never simply pick up the phone and call you.
They do research. They think. They go through a lot of pain. They wonder and worry. They put it off. They go to your website. They follow you on social. They ask for recommendations. They think about it longer.
It’s really important you understand what an incredibly long process this can be for your firm, and the import it has to your marketing.
Here’s my personal example.
I’ve been meaning to find a really good dentist for a long time. Almost two years, in fact.
It all started with a very simple issue. An old filling (one I’d had for about 20 years) fell out. No worries, I’d get that sorted out. Went to dentist, after a bit of faffing about as per usual (long delays on appointments, multiple appointments, etc) they replaced it. Then it fell out again. Then more pain and we didn’t know why. Then a root canal. Then seeing a specialist when I was visiting the States, and a triple root canal. I won’t go on because I don’t want to think about it.
But recently, another filling fell out.
And I realised I’d hit my limit.
Two years of a significant amount of pain, an inexpert dentist in Scotland who made things much worse, a specialist dentist in the States who was amazing but who it’s unrealistic for me to see regularly, feeling fearful about trying yet another dentist, and regularly despairing of the process.
I was sick of going through this with sub-par dentists, and it’s not practical to keep visiting multiple specialists in another country.
So (and this is how it’s relevant to your prospective clients), here’s what I did:
1. Asked for help on LinkedIn and Twitter.
2. Got several recommendations (you can see them in the comments and replies).
3. One of my friends tagged someone I forgot I had met before, who specialises exclusively in dentists (so she knows a lot of them, and knows the good ones).
4. This person sent me a DM on twitter, asked me questions about the issues I had and the type of dentist i needed, and we had a fairly long DM conversation.
5. She suggested four dentists in my area based on what I’d shared.
6. I reviewed what she said about each and went to the one which seemed the best from the list. And then I….
7. Went to their website (on my mobile, because I was lying in bed feeling sort of miserable)
8. Skimmed through a few pages on the website. Noticed they talked a lot about dental anxiety (which I absolutely have) and I appreciated their addressing this very real issue
9. Watched a video by one of the dentists about dental anxiety
10. Noted they have won many awards. Checked the years to see if it was a long time ago or recent, and saw that at least one of them was within the past year
11. Clicked through to their social platforms. Skimmed through the content, noticing they post regularly and on things relevant to my issues, and they seem positive and friendly
12. Read some very detailed testimonials. One of these was from someone who had ignored an issue for two years because she was afraid and had had bad dentist experiences….which is exactly how I feel. She said they could not have been more helpful and set her at ease, and sorted her issue.
13. The call to action on the website (everywhere) was to call, so…I called.
14. The call was answered quickly and the person who spoke to me took all my details, asked specific questions about my issues, spent time listening to me and yet was efficient too, told me about any costs I would incur, advised about how the appointment could go (and how it might not go), and asked if I could get x rays from my dentist in the States, to help them at the appointment.
15. I booked the appointment.
16. Messaged the person who had recommended me, and told her I’ve booked it. She asked which dentist I’m seeing, and we had a chat about it. I promised to let her know how it went.
That’s 15 steps that I took from asking for a referral.
I haven’t even signed up yet to do lots and lots of work with this dental practice (although I hope and pray this will be the one who can sort my problems so I never have to go through this again!!).
Like me, your prospective clients have concerns, fears, worries, pain.
They may have been treated really badly. They may not even think it’s possible that an accountant like you exists. I was beginning to doubt that a great dentist was possible, and had given in to accepting a bad dentist, and presuming that the next dentist I got would put me through more pain.
In order to overcome that pain, and to prevent more of it….
Your prospective clients do research.
They check things.
They read things.
They watch videos.
They ask other people.
They take their time.
It doesn’t look like this dental practice “got a lead from their website” – it looks like it “came from a referral”.
But everything combined together. Their website, their brand, the awards, the social media activity, the recommendation from an expert, the personal conversations with that expert before and after, the videos….
Next up is the appointment, and their quoting for and starting the work, which is part of the marketing experience too.
I read a statistic from Hinge Marketing Institute that nearly 48% of people who were referred to an accountant never got in touch – because of the website, or the social, or the overall marketing, or the lack thereof.
Look at all these steps and look at the prospect experience you’re building. And start filling in the gaps, so you don’t miss any referrals!
Who have you been referred to recently? How did that go?
I send these tips and sketchnotes out every Saturday! Sign up to get them here.