Referrals are the most common source of consulting clients. These leads require less trust building, go through a shorter sales cycle, and are less price-sensitive. As you grow your consultancy, it's definitely worth creating a structured process to get as many referrals as possible.
But best practices to do so are not the point of this post. Instead, I'd like to bring your attention to a less-discussed source of referrals: strangers.
Here's an interesting statistic on that front:
Hinge's research "Inside The Buyer's Brain" found that 95% of non-client referrals are made by people who have not met you.
Yes, you've read it correctly. Almost all non-client referrals don't come from prospects, friends, or acquaintances. But from people who never met you.
These people know the founder or partners are influential. They know the consultancy has a good reputation for solving a specific kind of problem for a specific kind of client. So when they meet someone that meets that criteria, they mention the firm's name.
This means one of the best ways to increase the number of referrals coming to you is to increase your luck surface area. You do that by:
- Communicating what you do, who you do it for, and how well you do it. This involves crafting a clear value proposition, narrow positioning, effective marketing messaging, and creating relevant content that demonstrates expertise, among others.
- Increasing your exposure and visibility. Getting these ideas in front of your audience through online publishing and distribution, strategic partnerships, advertising, and so on.
It might be difficult to believe if it never happened to you, but your consultancy can get referrals even if you never had a client. Good and focused marketing is hard to find - improve yours and people will gladly talk about you in their private conversations.