You had one job

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You had one job. You still do, and you always will.

I’m talking about persuading prospective clients who need your help to choose you as their lawyer and to sign up. Now, not someday/maybe.

If you don’t do that job, you’re letting them go their way without getting the help they need (and want, but may hesitate to get).

If you don’t persuade them to take action, their problems might worsen. Become more painful, more difficult to solve, and more expensive. They might also lead to secondary problems.

Yeah, a mess.

If you don’t do everything you can to make the case, create urgency, and make it easy to say “yes,” you’re doing them a disservice. (You’re not doing yourself any good, either).

Don’t wait for them to figure it out. Tell them. Give it all you’ve got. Tell them how it is and how it might be, without sugarcoating or equivocating. They need to hear this from you and hear it often.

They need to hear it in your posts and articles. They need to hear it in your presentations. They need to hear it when you speak with them and write to them.

Give them the facts, tell them what to do, and why.

That doesn’t mean being obnoxious or sounding like a broken record. You should talk to them as you would a friend who is in trouble, or might be, and needs your advice and help.

It also doesn’t mean showering them with nothing but doom and gloom. A litany of what might happen if they don’t act, try to fix it themselves, hire the wrong attorney, or wait too long.

Important points, but nobody wants to listen to a never-ending stream of awfulness. Too much of that and people shut down. And unsubscribe.

So make sure you also give them a healthy dose of benefits and happy endings. The good things that happen when take the action you recommend.

The trick is to know how much of each and how often. The answer to that is a big fat “it depends”.

But you need both. The bad and the good, the warnings and the solutions.

And you need to keep at it until they hire you.

Their future (and yours) depends on it.

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Getting to “yes”

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Do you have any clients or prospective clients who need one or more of your services but can’t seem to pull the trigger?

Of course you do.

They might have legitimate reasons for waiting and one day surprise you with the go ahead.

They didn’t have the funds, and now they do. They didn’t trust you (enough) and now they know you better. They needed approval from someone and finally got their blessing.

On the other hand, they might want to do it, plan to do it, but never get around to doing it.

Because they don’t feel the urgency to do it.

They might never feel that urgency. Unless you tell them something that tips the scale in favor of “now”.

Which is why you drip on them, via your newsletter or other mechanisms, providing them with reasons and social proof, and reminding them of the need to do it by continuing to show up in their mailbox.

Drip, drip, drip, and one day, they’re ready.

That’s a great plan. But there’s something else you can do to help them reach the tipping point.

And it’s pretty darn simple.

If they don’t yet feel the urgency, you can create that urgency through the use of scarcity.

Find a way to trigger their innate FOMO, their fear of missing out, by limiting the quantity of your offer or the dates when it is available.

Even something as simple as “There’s only one appointment left this week” can work.

Now before you say, “that’s manipulate and I won’t do it,” remember, these folks need what you’re offering, want to say yes, and plan to say yes, but have been dragging their feet.

You’re doing them a favor by giving them a reason to do what they want (and need) to do sooner rather than (possibly) never.

You and your little friend, FOMO.

Email is the best way to drip

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Stop talking and sign me up

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You’re sitting with a prospective client, discussing their situation. You describe the options, risks, and benefits of each solution and answer their questions. You can tell they’re interested, but when it comes time to do the paperwork, they tell you they want to think about it.

What went wrong?

It could be a lot of things. But sometimes, it’s because you kept talking.

They were interested and ready to go, but instead of handing them a pen and showing them where to sign, you kept giving them more information. You gave them more to think about and they got confused or frightened and backed away.

It happens. We have an obligation to make sure they know everything they need to know so they can make an informed decision.. And we don’t want to pressure them.

But when the client is ready, we have to STFU and hand them a pen.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to a phone store to get some information about one of their plans. We walked out with a new plan and two new phones.

In part, because the salesman knew when to stop talking.

At one point, he told us about the cameras in the different models. When I told him this wasn’t important to us, he stopped talking about them. When he told us about the extended care option and I shook my head, he moved on.

He didn’t push. He didn’t tell us what he wanted us to know, he listened and told us what we wanted to know. And when we were ready, he handed us a pen. (A stylus, actually).

The client tells you what you need to know and what you need to say to make the sale. We just have to listen.

Sometimes, that’s hard to do for people who earn their living explaining and persuading, but that’s the challenge.

Get it right and we get a new client. Get it wrong and they say they want to think about it.

Here’s the formula for building a successful practice

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The easiest way to sell legal services

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It’s funny, you’re in the persuasion business, but you don’t like persuading people to hire you.

You can “sell” a jury on finding for your client, negotiate a better deal for them, or write an article advocating for a social cause, but you are reluctant to use your persuasive abilities to get anyone to choose you as their attorney.

Seems like a waste of talent, doesn’t it?

But I get it. You don’t want to look like you’re bragging or desperate for work. You think it’s better for clients to choose you because someone else said you have a lot of experience, keep your promises, and deliver great results.

And you would be right to think this.

It is better to have someone else say those things. Because if you say it, people can doubt it; if someone else says it, it must be true.

Praise from third parties is the best and easiest way to sell your services.

What could be easier than getting some good reviews and quoting them or linking to them?

What could be easier than getting testimonials from satisfied clients along with permission to share them?

What could be easier than quoting other attorneys who speak about your good character, work ethic, and track record?

The answer is “nothing”.

Nothing is easier. Or better.

So, if you’re not doing this already, make it a priority to collect and use the positive things people say about you. Post them on your website, put them in your brochures and marketing materials, put them in your bio, and let other people sing your praises.

These aren’t difficult to get. But people are busy, so you need to prompt them.

When a client sends you an email thanking you for (something), tell them you appreciate their saying so and ask for permission to quote them. Disguise their name if need be, but showcase their words.

Send new clients a survey at the end of the case and ask them how you did. If they thought you were the bees’ knees, yep, ask to quote them. Or ask them to post a review online.

The next time you get a referral from a fellow professional, thank them and ask them why they chose you. When they say nice things about you, ask if you may quote them in your marketing.

If you already do this, do it more. Build a portfolio of praise from clients and professionals and put it front and center.

When you do, you should notice two things happening.

First, you should see more clients and business contacts willing to provide testimonials and positive reviews. It’s the bandwagon effect. The more praise you get, the more people want to jump on board.

Second, you should see a higher percentage of prospective clients signing up. When they see how much your clients like you and the work you did for them, they will be more likely to see you as the best option for them.

Because, while most attorneys have happy clients, they don’t have clients who are happy enough to put it in writing.

The Attorney Marketing Formula: it’s a formula, so you know it works

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How to get ‘em to sign up

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You don’t need to be salesy to get clients to sign up. But you do need to close the sale.

For the client’s sake and for yours.

You don’t need to follow a formal process to get there, however. You can do it organically, by asking questions.

No doubt you know the power of asking questions and use them every day in your work. You know that questions allow you to control the conversation and find out what you need to know.

Questions also allow you to guide the client towards signing up. They do that by helping you to:

  • Assess the problem and/or what the client needs and wants
  • Assess their personal urgency and readiness to do something
  • Give you key points you can repeat back to them, to show them you listened and understood, and to let them hear, in their own words, why they need your help
  • Make sure they understand their options
  • Make sure they understand the risks of waiting or not taking action
  • Find out about their ability to pay and/or if anyone else needs to approve hiring you
  • Find out if they’re ready to sign up, need more information, or have any objections

All of which helps you to move them forward, from problem to solution, from first meeting to new client.

If you do it right, the client might signify they want to get started, or at least ask the kinds of questions someone would ask if they are ready to do that. If they don’t, or if you’re not sure, ask more questions.

Closing questions don’t have to be complicated. You can ask

  • Are you ready to get started?
  • Is there anything else you need to know before we get started?
  • Would you like me to start today or next week?

Or, simply, “What do you think?”

You find out what they think and what they want to do. You sign them up, continue the conversation, or, if they’re not ready, schedule a follow-up.

You can also “assume the sale”—hand them the paperwork and a pen and see what happens.

If you’ve asked the right questions, and answered theirs, that’s often all it takes.

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You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to

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FBI hostage negotiators supposedly use a strategy that makes hostage-takers more likely to cooperate. The idea is that people are more apt to agree with something we propose when we affirmatively give them permission to say ‘no’.

You can use this when negotiating with another party or with your clients.

You might be talking to a client about the opposition’s offer and say, “I know you wanted more and if you don’t want to accept the offer, just tell me; I’ll understand.”

They might give you a hard no, but they also might soften their position and be willing to discuss it.

Or, instead of using an “alternative choice” close, e.g., “Do you want to get started today or is next week better for you?” you might say, “Are you ready to get started? If you want to wait, that’s fine.”

However you word it, you give them an out. They know they can say no, but telling them they can do that apparently makes it more likely they won’t.

Why does giving someone permission to say no make it more likely they’ll say yes?

Because people like to buy but don’t like to be sold.

Nobody likes to be pushed or told what to do. When you move forward towards them, they move back. When you back off and let them make the call, however, it empowers them. They relax and open to other options.

I’m not saying this is always the way to go. But it’s nice to have another tool in the toolbox.

Of course, you don’t have to use this approach if you don’t want to.

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Why should anyone hire you?

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On your website, in your marketing materials, when you speak with a prospective client, your top priority is to tell people why they should hire you.

(1) Tell them why they need a lawyer.

If you haven’t spoken to them, use if/then language. Ask rhetorical questions, tell them their risks and their options, and make the case for hiring an attorney instead of doing nothing or trying to fix the problem themselves.

If you are speaking to them, find out what they want (don’t assume it), and explain how an attorney can help them get what they want.

(2) Tell them why that lawyer should be you.

Spell out your qualifications, explain why you are a better choice than other attorneys, tell them about your solutions/services and the pros and cons and costs of each.

Of course it’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it and how you make them feel, so make sure you:

  • Build rapport, to help them relax, feel your strength and self-confidence, and build likeability and trust
  • Get the client to talk about themselves—what they think, how they feel, what they want to happen, and why. What’s at stake for them? The more they talk, the more they are likely to sell themselves on taking the next step
  • Ask appropriate questions, to show them you have experience with their problem, and show you care about helping them
  • Share stories of clients you’ve represented in the same or similar situation, to illustrate how an attorney can help them and show them how you have helped others
  • Confirm their understanding of each point before you go on to the next one, to eliminate potential misunderstandings and show them your thoroughness and patience
  • Answer their questions and handle their objections before they raise them, and invite them to ask you more

And then, when they have no more questions, ask them what they want to do.

Yes, you can assume the sale and hand them (or send them) the paperwork to sign, but it’s much better when they tell you they want to get started. They’ll be more likely to do that when you show them they need you rather than telling them.

New here? Start here

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How to sell your services when you don’t have experience

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You’re new. Or venturing into a new practice area or market. You want clients to hire you but you don’t have enough (or any) experience with the issues they present.

How do you show them you can do the job?

The key: confidence. That’s what they’ll buy.

If you look and sound like you can do the job, you’ll at least be in the running.

Am I saying you can fake it? Yes, and no.

You need to know enough to ask the right questions and identify the issues. You need to know what you’ll have to do to get started. But you don’t need to know everything—that’s what research is for—and you (probably) don’t need years of experience with that matter.

You sell your confidence in your problem-solving abilities. You sell your experience doing similar work.

Don’t lie. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. But if you look and sound like you know what you’re doing, if you comport yourself as confident and capable, the question about how much experience you have with the specific matter usually won’t come up.

If you’re hired and find yourself over your head, get help. Talk to someone who knows what to do, burn the midnight oil, and get yourself up to speed.

You can earn while you learn.

On the other hand, if you know from the beginning that you don’t have nearly enough knowledge or experience or resources to handle the case, if you can’t do the work without taking undue risk, admit it and ask the client for permission to associate with another lawyer or firm.

That’s what I did when I was a new pup and had big cases I wasn’t ready to handle.

I told the client they would benefit from the resources and experience of the other firm, and also be able to work personally with me at no additional cost.

I didn’t apologize or show weakness. I was matter-of-fact about it, as though this was a very common arrangement, and confidently explained the benefits of having two lawyers working for them

And never had a client turn me down.

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Some do, some don’t

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A prospective client is sitting in your office, telling you about their situation. You listen, ask questions, tell them what you think, and share a story about a client who had a similar situation. You tell them what you did for them and how it worked out.

Your analysis and opinion help them to better understand their problem and the possible solutions. Your story inspires them or comforts them, and convinces them that you can help.

And they sign up.

Well done.

Another example of the adage, “Facts tell but stories sell.”

You see another prospective client with a similar problem. You tell them what you think and share the same story. They don’t relate to your story but hire you anyway, because they like how you explained the law and what you advised them to do made sense.

People are different. Some people won’t relate to some of your stories.

No matter how many other people do.

I bought a book the other day. It has hundreds of 5 star reviews. Many of the reviewers mentioned how they loved the author’s stories. One said, “I really liked the motivational stories, they added depth and background to the theme of the book which is to find ways to start.”

Another reviewer didn’t like the stories. He gave the book 1 star and asked, “Can I get a refund?” He said, “If I wanted to know his life story I would have just read his blogs.”

Some do, some don’t.

Lessons:

  1. Encourage feedback from your clients and readers. You want to hear what they like and don’t like, about your stories and all of your content. They may relate to your stories but think you have too many or they are too long. Or they might love your stories and want more.
  2. Sometimes, one story is enough; sometimes, two or three is the right number. Some people will like certain stories more than others. Keep a file of stories you can use in different situations. Experiment to find the right stories and the right number.
  3. Don’t leave out the meat and potatoes. Talk about the facts, the law, the procedure, and use stories to illustrate your points. People make decisions, e.g., to hire you, based on emotions, and justify their decision based on logic, e.g., the facts. You need both.

Finally, practice your delivery. There’s nothing worse than a good story that goes too long or misses the point. There’s nothing better than an average story that is well told.

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“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”

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Marketing legal services is often defined as “everything you do to get and keep good clients”.

That covers a lot of ground.

Everything from lead generation to getting prospects to sign up to getting repeat business and referrals, and a lot more.

It includes prospecting, qualifying, presenting, overcoming objections, and closing. Yes, pure salesmanship, for many attorneys, the bugaboo of legal marketing.

But selling your services doesn’t mean becoming a salesperson. You don’t have to use unseemly tactics to get people to do things they don’t want to do.

If your marketing is effective, you don’t have to do much selling at all.

Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”

When you do a good job of marketing your services, clients sell themselves.

Prospective clients learn what you do and how you can help them, and see proof of what you’ve done for others. They learn about your experience and abilities and get a sense of what would be like to work with you. And then, on their own, they decide whether to take the next step.

They make an appointment or contact you to ask questions or request more information. Eventually, they either sign up or they don’t.

Without you having to sell them.

Don’t misunderstand, it’s useful to know what to say when a prospective client hesitates. Knowing how to overcome objections and close can help them decide to hire you and thus get the benefits they want or need.

But it is your marketing that does the heavy lifting.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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