Ask prospective clients this question before their first appointment

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Have you ever had a prospective client tell you they need to talk to their wife (husband, partner, parent, etc.) before they can hire you?

Sure you have.

They go home and do their best to explain why they need to hire a lawyer and why that lawyer should be you. Too often, their best isn’t good enough.

They can’t remember everything you told them. They can’t explain why they need to do this. They can’t answer questions. And when their spouse or partner says, “Let me see if I can find someone cheaper. . .” they don’t know what to say.

Someone wanted to hire you but someone else overruled them.

No soup for you!

You can reduce the odds of this occurring by asking prospective clients a simple question before you confirm the details of their first appointment:

“Is there anyone else who should be here with you?”

Anyone they might have to talk to? Consult with? Get permission from? Anyone who might be paying some or all of your fees? A son or daughter or caregiver? A business partner? In-house counsel?

You want the other decision maker to meet you and see for themselves what the client sees. You want to field their questions, overcome their objections, and help them make the decision to hire you.

Tell the client that things will be much easier for everyone if their spouse or partner comes to the appointment with them.

In fact, you might insist on it.

Tell them you have a policy of meeting both spouses (partners, decision makers, etc.) before you take on a new client. Share a story or two that explains why you have this policy. Help them understand why this is better for them, too.

If you don’t want to “insist,” at least tell them you “strongly recommend”. And if you don’t want to do that, or it looks like they won’t be able to get the other person to come with them, at least send them home with lots of information.

“Don’t try to explain everything, just give them this information. If they have any questions, get me on the phone and I’ll be happy to speak with them.”

No, it’s not as good as having the other decision maker at the first appointment. Not by a long shot. But sometimes, a long shot is the only shot you have.

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