Cultivating Endless Referrals: The Power of Relationships with Bob Burg

Sales and marketing strategies come and go. But one method that never goes out of style is word of mouth—referrals. As a lawyer, doing business doesn’t only mean being good at your practice. You also have to know how to sell your services. 

The problem is many lawyers have preconceived notions about what it means to be in sales. So first, you have to reframe your understanding of selling. It's the first step to developing relationships in a way that people will know, like, and trust you enough to refer you endlessly.

In this episode, Bob Burg joins us to explain how to build relationships that lead to endless referrals. He walks us through how lawyers can reframe their understanding of selling. He then shares his system for developing and maintaining relationships and navigating referring business to somebody.

If you want to know how to start building a business on referrals, then this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Reframe your understanding of selling.
  2. Learn a system on how to build a business on referrals.
  3. Discover the best way to build rapport with a prospective client.



Episode Highlights

Bob’s Background

  • Bob began in broadcasting. He started in radio, sports, and then television news.
  • He graduated into sales when he realized working in news wasn’t for him. It was challenging for him because he had no formal sales training.
  • After a while, he stumbled across books by Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins. In about three weeks, his sales rose through the roof.

Bob: “There was really no significant difference between the Bob Burg who had been struggling and the Bob Burg whose, now, sales were going well other than I now had a methodology—I had a system.”

  • Bob defines a system as the process of achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles. But also, he loved the personal development aspect of it.

Bob: “Sales wasn't just the how-to aspect, as important as that is. It was really growing inside. It was becoming successful internally and then allowing that internal growth to manifest into outward success.”

  • He wrote Endless Referrals in the 90s and co-authored the Go-Giver series with John David Mann in the mid-2000s.

Reframing the Understanding of Selling

  • The first issue lawyers encounter in sales and marketing is they don't want to feel like salespeople. However, they have to be selling legal services.

Bob: “A lot of lawyers, just like accountants, and other doctors, other professionals, just the idea of their being in sales is anathema to them. They don't want to think and yet, you are.”

  • The first thing is to understand what selling is and reframe that.
  • Selling is simply discovering what the other person needs, wants, or desires and helping them to get it. The Old English “sellan” meant to give.
  • When you have a prospective client, you give them time, attention, counsel, education, empathy, and immense value.
  • The second issue is getting told they don’t need to bring in business when they become a firm associate.

Moshe: “What lawyers do is we're in service to others. And if we recognize that somebody has a challenge that we have the solution to and we don't do our very best to figure out how to get that solution in front of them, we're actually doing them a disservice by not doing that.”

How to Build a Business on Referrals

  • Develop relationships with people you meet on an ongoing, everyday basis.

Bob: “People will do business with and refer business to those people, including those attorneys, they know, like, and trust.”

  • The key is to develop, know, like, and trust relationships with people you come into contact with. People may never need you, but they know somebody who does.
  • Teach your clients how to refer you. Teach them how to recognize the person who would need your services for them to refer you.
  • Once you have a relationship with someone, you can ask them to refer you to people who need your services.
  • Doing this builds your circle of influence or your personal walking ambassadors.

Developing a Relationship with People You Interact with Every Day

  • These are the people who you might meet for any given reason. But ideally, you’re looking for people who are a center of influence. 
  • Go to where you’re the best chance of your prospects or people who would know your prospects whenever you can.
  • It's advisable to have a small 10-step booklet that positions you as the expert when people need you.
  • It doesn't mean everyone you meet is someone you will create a relationship with. Both quality and quantity are important. 
  • When you meet someone, you have to make the conversation about them as much as possible. You want to know as much as you can about them.

System to Maintaining Relationships

  • The level of interest a new person you meet has in you boils down to three words: he doesn't care. Let them do the talking about themselves. 
  • Start with asking feel-good questions. A good first question is asking them how they got started in what they’re doing. 
  • Follow it up with a question about what they enjoy most about their work.

Bob: “Instead of finding their pain, find their joy. Make them feel good about themselves and associate that with us.”

  • Then, ask the one key question distinguishing you from everyone else. Ask how you'll know if someone you're speaking with is a good prospect for you.
  • At the end of the conversation, you'll get their card. Follow up with a personalized and handwritten thank you note.

Writing a Thank You Note

  • Using blue ink will make a note look more personal 
  • Write your greetings, say thank you, and tell them you will refer business their way if you can.
  • Put it in a regular #10 envelope, and hand stamp it. Handwrite their name and address, and send it out that day.
  • Receiving the letter will make them feel good about you.
  • You can also show support to them and learn more about them on social media. Send printed notepads to them when something comes up.

Bob: “Remember the old saying, ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’”

How to Navigate Referring Business to Somebody

  • You can’t refer everyone.
  • If you know multiple people when someone needs them, you can recommend three people.
  • Drop a note, text, or email to each of them depending on your relationship.
  • There are certain limitations to that. The best thing to do is find ways around it.
  • Get a thumbs up from the referred party before connecting them with someone.

Bob’s Parting Piece of Advice

  • Don't make money your target. Your target is serving others.
  • When you hit the target, you’ll get a reward. That comes in the form of money.
  • Money is simply the reward for hitting the target. When you keep that in mind, you’ll have your focus on the right place.

About Bob

Bob Burg speaks with entrepreneurs and sales professionals throughout the world on how to build powerful business relationships, effectively communicate their value, and cultivate endless referrals. He is coauthor of the international bestseller, The Go-Giver which has sold more than one million copies and been translated into 30 languages. Bob is also cofounder of The Go-Giver Online Community Network.

Bob Burg is a Hall-of-Fame speaker, and coauthor of the international bestseller, The Go-Giver, which has sold well over one million copies and been translated into 30 languages. An unapologetic animal fanatic, he is also an outspoken advocate of entrepreneurship and the free-market, believing the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to the number of people they serve.

Connect with Bob on his website.

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