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.

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