Charging clients more because you are worth more

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I heard from an attorney who says he gets tongue tied speaking with prospective clients about fees and tends to lean towards charging less. Even then, he’s afraid they will think he charges too much.

I told him to write out what he would say to them if he was confident about his fees–why he charges what he does, the benefits he offers, why he’s worth more than other lawyers, and so on.

Write it, read it, contemplate it. And then post it, or a version thereof, on your website so that prospective clients will be able to read it before they ever speak to you. They will understand that you charge a bit more but you’re worth it.

You might want to try this, too. Write down all that you do for your clients, from soup to nuts. Write down all the little things you do to make their experience with you as comfortable as possible. Write down all of the things you do to help them achieve a successful outcome.

You don’t have to post all of this on your site but you do need to see the value in what you do. You need to understand why you are worth more.

But what if you don’t believe you are worth more?

Then you have work to do. Because if you want to charge higher fees than you currently charge, if you want to charge more than other lawyers charge, you have to believe that you are worth more.

If you believe it, you won’t have any trouble talking about fees. You will do it confidently. It is a selling point for you. You want clients to know that when they hire you they get incredible value for what they pay.

Charging clients more comes down to believing you are worth more.

But keep in mind that when it comes to something as abstract as fees for professional services, value is relative and perception is everything. You’re worth what clients are willing to pay and you’re willing to accept.

No more and no less.

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What to do when a potential client says no

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You meet with a prospective client, diagnose their problem, propose a solution, and quote a fee. They need your help, but tell you they want to think about it. They don’t call.

What should you do? How can you get them to hire you?

Sorry, bub. It’s probably too late. “I want to think about it” usually means no. It’s an excuse for some other objection.

They aren’t convinced they need a lawyer’s help. They aren’t convinced you’re the one they should choose. They don’t have the money. Or they need some else’s permission.

By and large, these objections should be dealt with before the client calls for an appointment or before they meet you.

You post information on your website, so they know why they need a lawyer and why they should choose you. You post detailed answers to FAQ’s, about your area of the law and the available options you offer.

You don’t quote fees online (or on the phone), but provide guidelines, so people have a general idea of how much they can expect to pay and what payment options you offer. They know they can’t hire you for $1,000 but it won’t cost them $100,000. They know they don’t need to pay 100% up front but they know they have to pay something.

Do this and when they call, they will already know that they need a lawyer and that you’re the one they want. They’ll know they will probably be able to afford your fees.

When they call to make an appointment, you make sure they bring their spouse or partner or other decision maker, or that they otherwise have the authority to hire you.

Now, when they’re in the office and you diagnose their problem, propose a solution, and quote a fee, you have eliminated most or all of their reasons to say no. If there are any remaining objections, you find out about them and deal them when they’re sitting in your office.

This way, they don’t have to think about it.

You deal with objections before they arise. You eliminate reasons to say no before they are said. After the fact, there’s not a lot you can do.

When a potential client says no, or I want to think about, or otherwise does not hire you, don’t blame them, and don’t chase them. Put them on your mailing list and stay in touch with them because they may hire you some day or refer business some day. But probably not today.

Learn what to put on your website to eliminate objections before they arise. Click here.

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Overcoming the money objection

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You’re sitting with a new client. At least you think he’s a new client because he needs your help and wants to hire you. But when it comes to the subject of fees, he balks. Too often, he walks.

Overcoming the money objection in it’s various forms–I can’t afford it, I don’t have it, it costs too much, other lawyers will do it for less–is critical. The best way to handle this objection, or any objection, is to eliminate it before it comes up. Here are four ways to do that:

1. PRACTICE AREA AND TARGET MARKET

If you handle contingency fee cases, the money objection usually doesn’t come up. Lawyers who do work for big business and government usually don’t have clients who can’t pay their fees. Targeting well to do consumers for your services will also eliminate or severely curtail the no money objection.

In addition, if you handle legal work where clients must have an attorney or face dire consequences, rather than discretionary legal work, clients who might otherwise be limited in their ability to pay will often find a way to get the money. Someone who is in jail, being sued, or facing foreclosure, for example, has different motivation than someone who needs to update their will.

2. INFORMATION

The second way to deal with the money objection is to provide ample information to prospective clients before they call for an appointment. This means posting information on your website that explains fees, costs, retainers, and payment options. It means mailing or emailing prospective clients this kind of information (“a pre-appointment information package”) prior to the actual appointment.

You don’t necessarily quote fees in advance but you do provide a general idea of what the client can expect if they hire you. Give them a range of fees so they know it might be as much as $10,000 and they don’t come in expecting to pay $1,000. Show them different packages of services you have available, so they can see that while they might not be able to afford package A, they can probably handle package B. Explain the payment options that are available to them, so they can see that they don’t have to have all of the money up front.

This is also how you deal with the issue of other attorneys with lower fees. This is where you build the value of what you offer and make the case for why clients should choose you. This is where you explain how some attorneys don’t tell the whole story regarding fees and costs, until someone is sitting in their office. This is where you show prospective clients the wisdom of hiring someone with your experience and how, in the long run, it will probably save them money.

3. ON THE PHONE

When a prospective client calls for an appointment, or calls to ask questions, make sure they understand how much they will be expected to pay (or the minimum) if they decide to hire you.

Some will tell you it’s better to get them into the office first, that once they have taken the time to meet with you and become impressed with you, they will be more likely to find a way to hire you and less likely to go shopping for a less expensive alternative. That may be literally true, but if they don’t have the money they don’t have the money and you and the client are both better off dealing with this reality before spending any more time.

There are exceptions, but a policy of giving prospective clients a general idea of how much will be expected of them if they hire you, in advance of the actual appointment, and confirming that they can handle that amount, will go a long way towards overcoming the money objection once they are sitting in front of you.

4. IN YOUR PRESENTATION

The fourth way to deal with the money objection is to anticipate the objection and dispose of it in your presentation, before the client can raise it.

For example, explain how some clients sometimes tell you the fee is on the high side. Then tell them that once the client sees everything they get, they realize that in the end, they are actually saving money.

Bring up the subject of other attorneys who charge less than you do. Then explain why it makes sense to choose you instead.

Explain what it might cost the client if he chooses to delay. A client who might otherwise want to wait will now know why he should not.

Whatever objections you have heard in the past, deal with them before the client raises them.

Some clients will slip through the cracks. You will still occasionally hear the money objection. But by taking the above steps to deal with the objection in advance, you should find this to be the exception, not the rule.

Do you discuss fees on your website? If you want to know what to say, get this.

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Selling legal services doesn’t make you a sales person

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I was at a seminar on Saturday and one of the speakers briefly outlined a six-step process for selling anything. Of course that includes selling legal services.

The process is the same whether you’re sitting down with a client and selling him on giving you a check, networking with corporate bigwigs and selling them on discussing their legal needs, and everything in between. To some extent, the process is the same when you are selling legal services from the stage or in print.

Here are the six steps with my comments in parentheses:

STEP ONE: COMMIT

  • Make a personal commitment to the process. (If you look down on selling as beneath you, if you dismiss it and say, “that’s not why I went to law school,” you’re missing the point. Lawyers sell legal services. That doesn’t mean we are sales people.)
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time oriented. (What do you want to accomplish? When? How will you know if you did or did not achieve your goal?)
  • Define “why”: what’s the big picture for you that makes the effort worthwhile. (When you’re not getting the results you want, you need to remember why you opened your own office.)

STEP TWO: PREPARE

  • Adjust your attitude. (Selling is helping people get what they want by removing obstacles. Be proud of what you’re doing.)
  • Work on your skills. (Read, practice, learn from your mistakes.)
  • Add to your knowledge. (Learn about sales, human psychology, and your client’s industry or interests.)

STEP THREE: CONNECT

  • Appearance. (Make sure everything you do is done professionally.)
  • Approach. (Don’t always leave it up to them. When appropriate, take the initiate. Make the call.)
  • Rapport. (Build trust before you show them what you can do.)

STEP FOUR: INVESTIGATE

  • Observe. (What are their problems? What do they want to achieve?)
  • Ask. (Learn more by asking open ended questions. Find out what they want, what they have tried before, what you need to say or do to persuade them that you are the best choice.)
  • Listen. (20% asking, 80% listening.)

STEP FIVE: PRESENT

  • Timing. (Not too soon, not too late. Look for signs they are ready. If you’re not sure, ask for permission.)
  • Solutions. (We get paid to solve problems and achieve results. Show them what’s possible. Tell them how you have helped others in similar situations.)
  • Use their language. (Mirror their style, pace, and lexicon. Refer to your notes and reflect back to them what they told you they wanted and needed.)

STEP SIX: CLOSE

  • Ask for the sale. (Tell them what to do to get the benefits they want.)
  • Overcome objections. (“I need to think about it” is never the real objection. Find out the real reason(s) and show them why the benefits you deliver trump those reasons.)
  • Support. (If they sign up, plug them into your support system so they feel easy about what will happen and what to do if they have questions. If they don’t sign up, plug them into your follow-up system.)
  • Referrals. (Always ask for referrals, even if they’re not ready to get started.)

Selling legal services is a skill and it can be learned. The better you get, the more people you can help. Last I heard, that’s at least one of the reasons’ you went to law school.

Marketing is everything we do to get and keep clients. Start here.

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What’s the best way to handle objections?

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What’s the best way to handle objections?

The best way is to eliminate them before they occur. That means providing enough information to prospective clients on your website, in your presentations, and in your client meetings, so that all of their issues and concerns are addressed and there is nothing left to object to.

Give them the facts. Share the stories. Provide FAQ’s that deal with all of the objections you commonly hear.

If money is a common objection, make sure you build the value of what they get, show them how not hiring you could be even more costly, and explain the payment options you have available. Deal with this issue in advance and you will get far fewer objections.

You won’t completely eliminate objections, however. What then?

It depends.

Sometimes, the best way to handle objections is to repeat them back to the prospective client. People often say things they don’t really mean or haven’t thought through. When they hear their own words repeated back to them, it causes them to re-evaluate. As they respond, they often answer their own objection.

Your conversation might go like this:

CLIENT: “I want to think about it”
YOU: “You want to think about it?”
CLIENT: “Yeah, I need a day or two”
YOU: “A day or two?”
CLIENT: “Well, maybe not that long. I need to see if this is something I want to do.”
YOU: “Something you want to do?”
CLIENT: “Well, I know I need to do this but it’s kinda expensive [the true objection reveals itself]. . .”
YOU: “Expensive?”
CLIENT: “Yeah, it’s a lot of money to me. But like I say, I know I need to do this and I guess I can put it on a credit card, so let’s get this going. . .”.

Sometimes, the best way to handle objections is to respond directly. When the client tells you they want to think about it and you know the real objection is probably something else, like money, you might say, “I understand completely. It is a big decision and it is a lot of money. But you have to consider what might happen if you ignore this problem. As we discussed. . .” and go over the issues and possible outcomes again.

If you’re not sure what the real objection is, ask them. “What exactly do you want to think about? Is it the need? Is it the cost?”

Handling objections this way is sometimes referred to as “Feel, Felt, Found.” It is a way to validate the client’s position before you respond to and overcome their objection. So if they object to the expense, you might say, “I understand how you FEEL. A lot of my clients tell me they FELT the same way when they were in your position. But once we got started, they FOUND that it was money well spent and they were glad they got it taken care of.”

Sometimes, the best way to handle objections is to ignore them. You’ve handed the client a retainer agreement and pen and he tells says he wants to think about it. Instead of saying, “Sure, just let me know,” and having him walk out, you say, “I can get started this afternoon and have everything done for you by next Tuesday. You will finally be able to move forward with your life and you told me that’s what you want to do. Today is the 15th; make sure you write the date here” and point to the blank for the date.

Clients typically have the same four or five objections, not hundreds. Think about the last few prospective clients who didn’t retain you. What did they say? How did you respond? How might you have handled it differently?

Come up with two or three ways to handle each common objection and the next time they arise, you’ll be ready.

Want to make the phone ring? Here’s my step-by-step system.

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How to get more clients to sign up when you quote your fees

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I’m listening to Spotify as I write this. The ’70’s station. Elvin Bishop, Paul Simon, Elton John, Al Stewart, Seals & Crofts, America, Earth, Wind & Fire. . .

How cool is that?

I “liked” every single song so far and now they’re in my playlist.

So much music, so little time.

Anyway, I wanted to share something with you that I think will make your day. Or your week. Maybe even your year.

Our microwave died two days ago. It’s amazing how much we use that thing. Boiling water on the stove is so 1970’s.

Anyway, my wife goes online and starts pricing replacements. We’ve had this one for 18 years so it wasn’t that simple. It has to fit in the space above our range and match the oven.

She finds one that works and gives me the price. Holy crap! “It’s a microwave, not a car!” I was overhead saying.

She took that to mean, “keep looking,” and she did. Sure enough, she finds one that has everything we need, fits in the space, and is 40% cheaper than the first one.

“Order it!” I said. And she did. It will be installed tomorrow.

Now, here’s the thing. If she had first come to me with the price on the one we ordered, knowing how I am, I still would have thought it was too high. But because she showed it to me second, it looked like a bargain.

I don’t know if it IS a bargain. I just know I was happy to order at the lower price. “Look at how much we saved. . .”.

Anyway, this reminded me to remind you about pricing your services.

If possible, you should put together a lower priced version of your services to offer prospective clients. If the deluxe package is $4,000, and the basic package is $2,500, you can show them both and let them choose. If $4,000 is “too much,” they can choose the basic version. Instead of “no sale” you get a $2,500 sale, and a new client. The client gets his basic needs met and could possibly upgrade later.

Or, show him the $4,000 package first. If he objects, (“It’s a legal document, not a car!”) you can show them the $2,500 package. It may not have all the bells and whistles but it does the job. In comparison to what he thought he had to pay, it will seem like a bargain.

You’ll get more prospects saying “sign me up,” instead of “I have to think about it.”

Get the Attorney Marketing Formula and find out how to earn more. Click here for details.

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The one competitor no attorney can afford to ignore

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competition for legal servicesMarketing legal services can be cut throat. And yet I often write that while attorneys should keep an eye on their competition, they should not fear them. Competition makes us better lawyers. It educates and expands the market for our services. And it provides us with a way to convince prospects to choose us by showing them how we are different or better.

But there is one competitor that no attorney can afford to ignore.

This competitor is stealthy. If you aren’t careful, he will steal clients from under your nose and you will never know it. There is no competition more powerful, or more deadly than this one, and you need to be prepared.

Who is he? He goes by several names: apathy, indecision, and fear.

Your biggest competition isn’t the other attorneys in your market. Your prospects have another option, as Seth Godin reminds us: the option of doing nothing.

You may do a good job of showing prospects why they should choose you instead of any other attorney, but you must first show them why they need to hire any attorney. If they don’t see the need or their fears preclude them from making a decision, you’ve lost the client, just as surely as you would had he hired the guy down the street.

The good news is that you can defeat this competitor. Make sure your prospects understand the risks of doing nothing and the benefits for making the right decision. Tell them the facts and share the stories.

Once they know why they need to hire an attorney and are persuaded to do so, then show them why the attorney they hire should be you.

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Every law firm must manage only these three things

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John Jantsch’s post today is about the three things every business must manage: Purpose, Projects, and Process:

  • Purpose: create and tell the story about why the business does what it does.
  • Projects: create actions steps and assemble resources to fulfill the business purpose.
  • Process: implement the action steps.

These three functions obviously apply to every attorney and law firm. However, while we all need to manage purpose, projects, and process, we’re not all in the same business (practice area).

A few years ago, I wrote a post, “The Three Things That Matter Most,” about finding and focusing on the essence of what you do. The three things that matter most for you are the “twenty percent” activities that deliver eighty percent of your (desired) results. When you focus on these three things, you can eliminate (delegate) or curtail everything else, freeing you to do more of your “twenty percent” activities, getting more results.

If you want to earn more and work less, you must focus on the things that matter most. Therefore, once you know and are prepared to articulate your purpose, take the time to reflect on what matters most in your practice before you create any projects or engage in the process of fulfilling that purpose.

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How to get more clients to hire you

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Lawyers often tell me they have trouble "closing the sale". What they’re really saying is they don’t know how to handle objections. I addressed this in an article, "What to say when the client says, "I want to think about it". But the best way to handle objections is to eliminate them before they ever come up.

In your marketing materials, your live presentations, your comments after a free consultation, make sure you answer these four "unspoken questions" that reside in every prospects mind:

1. What can you do for me?
2. Why should I believe you?
3. How long will it take?
4. Can I afford it?

Let’s look at these a little closer.

1. What can you do for me?

The number one reason why clients don’t authorize the work to be done is that they don’t see the need. Your job is to show them why they need what you are offering, and make the case so compellingly that when you are done, they not only see that need, they truly WANT what you offer.

Here, you must distinguish between FEATURES and BENEFITS. Features are what you do. Benefits are what the client gets as a result.

For example, preparing a Living Trust is a feature; it’s WHAT you do. But what’s important to the client is what happens when you do that. Tell them about the peace of mind, protection, savings, and control they will have as a result of your preparing that trust. That’s what people REALLY want.

In addition to telling them the benefits they gain when they hire you, tell them the potential consequences they face if they do not. What might they lose? What detriment might they suffer? Fear of loss is almost always a more powerful motivation than the desire for gain.

2. Why should I believe you?

Prove what you say by providing evidence of the following:

  • Your background, education
  • Awards and distinctions
  • Articles, seminars, speeches
  • Testimonials from satisfied clients
  • Endorsements from other professionals
  • Number of clients, cases, trials, verdicts, etc.
  • Success stories; results you have obtained for other clients in a similar situation

You can also "prove" your expertise via the advice you offer during the initial consultation. If you sound knowledgeable, most people will tend to believe you know what you are doing.

Most of all, clients want to hear that you have done for others what you propose to do for them. Therefore, weave into your consultation, writing or presentation, examples taken from other clients or cases.

3. How long will it take?

Tell them WHEN they can have the benefits you promise. Everyone is in a hurry today; nobody wants to wait.

Clients also fear open ended time lines, especially when your meter is running. Be up front with them. Tell them how long it will take, and what factors might contribute to delay. If possible, guarantee a delivery date. Make sure you under-promise so you can come in early and over-deliver. When you can’t control the time factor, limit their risk by offering flat fees.

4. Can I afford it?

Once a client is convinced they need what you offer, they want it, and they believe you can deliver it, the only thing left is whether they can afford it. Here are some ways to convincing them that they can:

  • Distinguish cost vs. value. Focus their attention on what they get, not what they pay
  • Enhance the value of what they get by providing bonuses, free updates, and other incentives
  • Limit their risk with flat fees and guarantees
  • Show them that what they pay is only "X per day"
  • Make it easy with payment plans and accepting credit cards
  • Give them options and let them choose which "works best" for them. You want them deciding between option A and option B, instead of "yes" (hiring you) and "no" (not hiring you)

Answer these questions before they ask them, and you’ll have more clients writing you a check. And if they still say, "I want to think about it," here’s what to do.

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