Make it easier for clients to say ‘yes’

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According to a number of studies, giving customers too many options makes it less likely they will buy anything. In one oft-cited experiment, grocery shoppers were given the choice of a dozen flavors of jam to choose during a promotion. They sold more jam overall, however, when they gave shoppers fewer choices.

Too many options tend to lower response, ostensibly because shoppers get overwhelmed and can’t decide which to choose. Too many choices, apparently, means too many chances to make a poor choice.

But if too many options lower response (and profits), can the same be said about giving customers too few options? 

Most lawyers give prospective clients only two choices—hire me or don’t. What would happen if they offered more options? 

If you handle estate planning, for example, you might offer a basic estate planning package and a more comprehensive package. Does this make it more likely clients will hire you? Will you generate more revenue if you give clients two choices instead of one?

When I sold my referral marketing course, I started by offering one option. You could buy the course or not. When I added a Deluxe version, I got more sales and more revenue. (60% bought the higher-priced Deluxe package).

Two options were much more lucrative than one. 

But selling courses and selling legal services aren’t the same thing. The only way to know what is best for you is to test different offers and see what happens. 

Try one option, e.g., buy or don’t, vs. two options, e.g., Basic or Comprehensive, and three options, e.g., Basic, Comprehensive, and something in between. 

Crunch the numbers. 

But keep in mind that getting more new clients might not be as profitable as getting fewer new clients who pay a higher fee. And don’t forget the “back end”–the lifetime value of a client via repeat business and referrals. 

So, it’s complicated. But worth testing different options. Just not too many. 

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Quality doesn’t come cheap

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At least that’s what most people believe. They’ve learned that when something looks too good to be true, it probably is. So, even if it was otherwise a good idea (and it’s not), don’t compete on fees. You’ll scare off as many clients as you attract. At least the good ones. 

For professional services, high fees is the better way to go. That’s what “good” attorneys charge.

But right now, the economy is in the tank, competition abounds, and even if your clients and prospects love you to pieces, getting paid more than most is a tough sell. In this environment, how can you keep your existing clients happy and attract new ones? 

By offering more value than most attorneys offer.

That can come as additional services or benefits included in your fees. You’re expensive, but worth it, right?

But value can come in different flavors. 

One way to offer more value is to be the attorney who provides more information. More (helpful) articles, more forms or checklists people can use to improve their business or personal life, more onboarding guidance, more of everything a client might want to know.

Most attorneys don’t.

You can also deliver more value with a cleaner and leaner and more modern website. Think “Apple”. Easy to navigate, professional graphics, and devoid of anything extraneous or old and crusty. 

But not just a pretty face.  

Your website should have a compelling About page, forms that work, pages that are easy to find (and read), good answers to FAQs—things that make a visitor conclude you know what you’re doing and can be trusted to do it well. 

Clients want an attorney who is vouched for not only by their other clients but also by their success.

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Why you need to offer a “deluxe” package of services

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I used to sell a course in two versions: “Basic” and “Deluxe”. The Deluxe version had more value at a higher price. Customers got more services and “stuff” and I earned more revenue. 

You should do something similar in your practice. 

Bundle or package your services in ways that are attractive to clients because they get more value and/or the convenience of getting everything they will need from you sooner rather than later, all at an attractive “price”. 

For example, if you have a typical fee package that goes for $5000, consider putting together a higher-priced package that sells for $6500. 

If you don’t offer flat fee billing, consider it, at least for some of your services. Clients like the certainty of paying a flat fee rather than paying by the hour, and you may find more clients signing up (at a higher flat fee) for that reason alone. 

There’s another reason for offering higher-priced packages, however. It often generates more sales of your lower-priced or “regular” package because of a phenomenon known as “price anchoring”. 

It’s about perceived value. 

Your $5000 package appears more “affordable” because the client compares it to the $6500 alternative. If you only offer the $5000 bundle, however, the client has the choice of paying that or paying nothing, e.g., telling you they’ll think about it. 

Even if nobody signs up for your “Deluxe” package, you will often earn more due to the increased sales of your lower-priced package. 

Reason enough to get to work on your Deluxe package. 

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How to get new clients to pay you more

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Actually, you can do this with existing clients, too. Anyone who is about to hire you or authorize you to do some work. Before you hand them the retainer or ask for the go ahead, ask them one more thing:

“Do you want fries with that?”

That simple question sells more fast food and it can sell more legal services. 

It’s called an upsell, and it’s an effective way to get clients to hire you to do more than they originally contemplated. 

It’s good for them, because they get something else they need but might have postponed. It’s good for you because you get paid more, but also because it’s one less thing to ask them about later. 

It works because the client is in “buying mode”. They’ve already decided to hire you for something and thus are more likely to hire you for something else. 

Instead of asking if they “also” want your additional service or add-on (your fries) you can ask if they want to upgrade their entire “purchase.” If you offer a basic service and a deluxe version, explain why they should consider the upgrade—the additional protection they get, the convenience of not coming back for more later, and, if (if you want), that they will save money by buying the package instead of getting all of your services separately. 

You could instead position the extra services or addons as a free bonus for electing your deluxe package.

Another option for you is to “cross-sell” instead of “upsell”. Bundle your other unrelated services, or the services of another lawyer in your firm, and give the client reasons to get everything at the same time.

Upsells and cross-sells are simple ways to get clients to pay you more (and be happy about it). 

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Expensive? Damn right!

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When you look through the app store, you see more than a few complaints about certain apps being too expensive. They’ll tell you why and compare the app to others that are available for less.  

Guess which apps sell the most? Which apps are the most profitable? 

Yep. The “expensive” apps.

People may complain but they want high quality and they’re willing to pay more to get it. The’ll tell you why, right there in their review. They say,“It’s expensive, but worth every penny.” 

Which just happens to be what you want your clients to say about you. 

Of course, you have to get the “worth it” part right first. You can’t raise your fees and expect clients to pay top dollar for services that aren’t “worth it”. But if you are worth more, you should charge more.

You will lose some clients who can’t afford you, it’s true. But more than make up for that loss by higher revenue from the ones who stick and the new ones to ome along.

What could you do to increase your value so you can justify higher fees?

That’s what you have to figure out.The good news is it doesn’t take as much as you think.

In marketing, perception is everything. You don’t have to get the highest verdicts and settlements or have the most prestigious clients to qualify. Other factors come in to play. The things your clients say about you, the people you associate with, the causes with which you are identified, are also important. So are the articles you write, the interviews you give, your videos and podcast and presentations..

They are all part of how people perceive you and thus part of the value you offer.

And guess what? Your fees are part of that, too. Charge more and people assume there is a reason. They assume that if other people pay those higher fees, you must be worth it, because people associate price with quality.

Bottom line, increase your fees and do what you can to get everyone to say you’re worth it. If enough people say it, it must be true.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Deal or no deal?

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When you have a client or prospective client who wants to negotiate on fees, you know what to do. Firmly and politely tell them no. 

But tell them why. 

Explain that your fees are reasonable, you do good work and deliver great value, your clients are happy, and if you were to give one client a lower fee than everyone else, it would be unfair to your other clients, and to you. 

You might explain that yes, your fees are higher than other lawyers, because you have more experience, so you are worth it. And give them proof—verdicts, testimonials, endorsements, awards—and how this translates to better results for your clients.

You could offer a payment plan, or get set up to accept credit cards. Or ask if they have someone who might lend them the funds or co-sign for them on a bank loan. 

You could suggest that you do part of the work they need or want, at a lower fee, and they can get the rest later. Or you could talk to them about waiting on everything until they’re able to get started. 

Finally, if they just can’t do it, offer to refer them to a colleague you know who charges less.

If these don’t work for them, or for you, thank them for considering you and wish them well. 

This kind of honesty, directness, and posture will often cause the client to figure out a way to say yes. 

Many people have the money but do their best to “get a bargain”. Nothing wrong with that. Smile and tell them no deal. 

You may lose a client or two but you’ll be better offer overall. 

If more than the occasional prospect or client tells you no, however, don’t even think about lowering your fees across the board. You’re not expensive. You just need a different niche or group of clients who can afford what you’re worth.

Getting the Check: Stress-free legal billing and collection

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You cost more because you’re worth more

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If you can show prospective clients why it costs them more to NOT hire you, do you think more clients would choose you? 

I do too. 

One way to do that is to show them how “doing nothing,” i.e., ignoring their legal problem, or trying to fix it themselves, often costs them more in the long run. Their problems can worsen, they can develop secondary issues, and the additional damages they incur, and the additional legal fees that come with them, can be fear greater than what they might pay by taking care of the problem immediately.

Give them examples of people who waited and it cost them.

(Note, it is a better overall strategy to focus on prospective clients who know they need an attorney and are willing and able to pay them, and ignore the ones who don’t. But sometimes you might need to have a conversation with someone about “why legal fees are so high,” etc.)

Then, show them why they should choose you instead of any other lawyer. Show them that you cost more than other lawyers because you’re worth more.

Show them you have greater skills, experience, higher settlements and judgements, and more success stories. Show them that you “specialize” in their industry or niche, and your reputation and contacts can deliver better results for your clients.

You can also show them how your clients get additional benefits other lawyers don’t provide.

Extra services, better payment terms, and how you keep your clients informed, might not be the sole reason a client will choose you, but it can tip the balance in your favor if they are comparing you to other lawyers who don’t offer these benefits.

Show prospective clients that while it costs more to hire you than other attorneys, it actually costs more to NOT hire you.

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How much should you charge?

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How much should you charge for your services? Well, how much are your services worth?

You don’t want to charge less than what you’re worth. That’s not fair to you or your kids.

But you can’t charge more than you’re worth because that’s not fair to your clients (or sustainable).

When it comes to fees, follow The Goldilocks Rule: Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold (but how much is ‘just right’?)

Well, you have to consider:

  • The size and complexity of the problem or goal
  • Clients’ willingness to pay to solve that problem or achieve that goal
  • Clients’ ability to pay
  • Urgency (deadlines, risks, pain, associated problems)
  • Your experience and reputation
  • The clients’ sophistication and experience in working with lawyers
  • How much other lawyers charge
  • The economy
  • And other factors

Yeah, it’s complicated. You can’t figure this out with a spreadsheet. So, let the market give you the answer.

It starts with you. How much do you want? Quote a fee and see what clients are willing to pay.

Willing buyer, willing seller.

If most clients complain or try to negotiate, if they hire you once and never again, you may be asking more than your services are (or appear to be) worth.

If most clients pay without blinking, however, you may be asking less than you could. A common affliction among our kind.

But if most clients pay what you ask, readily hire you again and refer others, your fees are probably about right.

But that doesn’t mean you should set them and forget them.

Over time, your kids (and creditors) want you to increase your fees and continue doing that until the market tells you no more.

But that’s not necessarily the last word on the subject.

If you want to increase your fees but the market says “too much,” you have three options:

  1. Add more value so more clients are willing to pay more
  2. Improve your marketing and salesmanship and increase the perceived value of your services
  3. Target a different market

The market tells you how much you can charge. But you have to ask. And listen.

The lawyers’ guide to stress-free billing and collection

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Your fees are too high

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Ever heard that? Maybe not. A lot of prospective clients will simply tell you they want to think about it, or some such, and not tell you what they really think.

But what about those who do?

How do you respond when they say you charge too much?

I’d find out if they understand what’s at stake. Talk to them about what it could cost them if they don’t hire an attorney, i.e., do nothing,, wait, or try to fix the problem themselves.

How much would it cost if the other party got a judgement against them or the tax man cometh and taketh away?

And what’s the value of knowing the problem is being properly taken care of and they can stop worrying about it and get on with other things?

More than anything, we sell peace of mind.

There’s a cost to hiring an attorney, but there’s also a cost of not hiring an attorney. So when someone talks about your fees being too high, show them what it might cost if they don’t hire you.

But suppose they mean your fees are too high compared to what other attorneys charge?

How do you respond?

I’d tell them it’s true, you don’t have the lowest fees in town, that you’re actually higher than most.

And then I’d tell them why.

You have more experience; you provide more benefits than other lawyers; you deliver better outcomes; you charge flat fees so they know up front what it’s going to cost (unlike other firms). . .

You charge more and you’re worth it.

I’d prove this by providing a boatload of testimonials and reviews attesting to your wonderfulness.

I’d follow that by offering to refer them to one or two other lawyers who charge less (because they don’t have as much experience or whatever) and might be a better fit for their budget.

They’ll see you aren’t defensive, you don’t try to talk them into anything, and you don’t negotiate.

Refreshing, isn’t it? Damn good posture.

You’ll often find that this is all you need to do to win the hearts and minds and retainers of prospective clients.

Here’s how to write your bill to show them they made the right decision.

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A simple way to lose clients

You want to increase your fees. It’s time, you deserve more, but, like many lawyers, you’re nervous about it because you don’t want to lose any clients who can’t or won’t pay more.

Understood.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The wrong way is to do what a certain app company did not long ago when they wanted to increase their revenue. They alienated a large percentage of their customers by taking away from them a bundle of features those customers were used to getting free and would henceforth have to pay for.

That’s a no.

Don’t take things from customers because when you do, you’re taking away something they already own (even if they got it free).

The company lost a lot of customers, suffered a slew of bad reviews and a loss of good will. Apple told them that they had violated their terms of service and they were forced to reverse course and come up with a different plan.

And that’s the plan I’m going to recommend to you.

Grandfather in existing customers (clients) and charge new customers or clients the higher rate (or make them pay for things your old clients got free.) Who says you have to charge all clients the same rate?

New clients won’t know and old clients won’t care.

You keep your old clients happy, at least until a suitable point in the future when you can justify raising rates for them, too. But whatever you do, don’t take away from any client anything that’s “theirs”.

Get the Check: Stress-Free Legal Billing and Collection

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