A participant in the recent Rainmaking teleseminar with Ford Harding had the following question:
What is the best way to follow up on a referral? I am a mediator. I will get calls for service and be asked for my CV. I will then be told by the lawyer that he/she will contact the other side and get back to me. I assume that there are other mediators under consideration. I am not shy to follow up once but am uncomfortable making more than one call on a particular matter. What is the best way to follow-up more than once without seeming pushy?
Ford blogged his response to this question here.
First, congratulations on making the short list! When attorneys are ready to mediate a matter they will circulate a short list of mediators to the other attorneys involved. Getting to be a regular on the short lists is a great accomplishment.
Understand that you will win some and you will lose some. Like most business development activities, this is a numbers game.
Now, the issue is how much and how should you follow up with the attorney who contacted you for inclusion on the list?
This mediator is confident to make one call but reluctant about going further.
Why? In the legal profession there has been historical reluctance to appear “over-eager” for business. This mediator used the term “pushy.” I think it relates to a fear of being perceived as desperate for work. No one wants that perception. There is a way to follow up so that you can minimize this potential perception problem. Ford mentioned one way in his post.
Following up on more than one unreturned phone call can be a good exercise for all of us.
Don’t assume an unanswered call means you didn’t get the job.
Schedules are busy. It’s possible, unless they were under time pressure (e.g. an impending trial date), the attorneys haven’t made a decision yet.
Your phone call could prompt the attorney who floated your name to follow up with the other side and prompt a decision in your favor. I would think of someone who follows up as professional and not pushy. I would appreciate their follow through and persistence.
Even if you don’t get this case, following up with more than one phone call will give you important feedback. Most attorneys won’t be shy about letting you know what happened. Some might feel uncomfortable but most litigators aren’t shy and they will tell you, “oh the other guy wanted Suzy because he’s worked with her before.”
Sometimes in mediator selection, it comes down to which attorney has the strongest preference for a particular mediator. All things being equal, this person usually wins. That’s why it’s helpful to continue to get out there and get known for doing excellent work.
So, back to following up. Follow up at least three times. As Ford mentioned, you can do so in a way to invoke some scarcity.
HI, Linda Lawyer, thanks for putting my name on the list of mediators for your case. Have you heard back from the other side yet? My November calendar is filling up fast, and I wanted to be sure to reserve a date for you guys. Do you have any time constraints or an impending trial date?
[depending on her response]
Let me know how things turn out. I just successfully mediated a ___ case, which is similar to yours (or whatever you have done recently that may be related). If not this one, keep me on your list, I’d love to work you in next time.
You can also follow up by asking if any of the attorneys needed any additional information. “I’m just following up to see if there was additional information I could provide on how I would approach this case, or cases I’ve worked with that are similar to this one.”
I also have my assistant follow up for me. Your assistant must be trained and have excellent people skills. You can go over scripts with this person and see if they can’t get the information you need. Practice with them before you set them lose on potential clients.
NEVER GIVE UP!