When people need you but don’t hire you

I spoke with a guy who does websites for attorneys. He told me he has a client who is getting approximately 20 leads a month via his website but very few of them make an appointment. He wanted to know if I could help.

Of course I can help. I’m friggin Batman.

I took a quick look at his website and saw a lot of issues, but one issue tells most of the story. He doesn’t offer free consultations.

If you want to talk to the attorney, you have to pay.

He handles high end divorces and his site says he charges for a consultation so clever spouses can’t talk to him and thus eliminate him as a lawyer for their spouse (conflict).

True or not, I’m not sure prospective clients buy this explanation, and this is coming from a guy who practiced in Beverly Hills where this tactic is common. If prospects don’t buy this (or understand it), you’re not scoring points on the trust meter.

If you want to charge for a first consultation, “sell” the consultation by telling prospects all of the value delivered during that consultation. What do they learn? What do they get? How do they benefit? You should do this even if you offer free consultations.

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, is he making money? He gets a low percentage of leads converting to appointments, but if he closes them at the appointment, he might be doing just fine. Perhaps he doesn’t need to convert more leads to appointments, perhaps he should work on getting more traffic.

Charging for consultations weeds out people who aren’t serious or who might not be able to pay his fee if they wanted to hire him. He saves a lot of time by not talking to them, and time is money, even if you don’t bill by the hour.

On the other hand, he might earn more by offering free consultations. He would undoubtedly set more appointments, and this might lead to more clients and more revenue. He could screen out low-percentage prospects by speaking with them for a few minutes on the phone before setting an appointment, or having someone in the office do that.

If the conflict of interest issue is on the level, so be it. Otherwise, I would suggest running a test. Offer free consultations for a month or three and see what happens.

He might get more calls and more clients and conclude that he’s better off offering free consultations and very glad he found out. Or he might find that while he’s getting more appointments, he’s not getting more sign-ups and he can go back to his original plan.

Make sense? Good. Now go make some dollars.

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