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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The Bandwagon Effect

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Psychologists tell us most people tend to think or act a certain way when they believe others are doing the same. They don’t want to make a mistake or miss out so they usually follow the crowd.

The “Bandwagon Effect” is a cognitive bias that causes people to buy a certain product or act a certain way because it is the more popular option.

Prospective clients often choose the attorney who appears busier for the same reason.

You can use this innate cognitive bias in your conversations and presentations with prospective clients.

When you present two or more options to a prospective client, e.g., Package A (your “starter” service) and Package B (your bigger service), for example, before you ask what they’d like to do or which option they prefer, tell them which option is more popular: “Most of my clients prefer Package B” (if that’s true) and tell them why.

You can do something similar in your articles and blog posts, and in your sales materials.

“Most of the people I talk to about [issue] tell me they don’t want to wait, they want to take care of this immediately because. . .”

Most people want to follow the ostensibly safer and better path chosen by others, so make sure you tell people what most people usually do.

Ready to make this year your best year ever? This will help

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The best marketing requires THIS

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I talked to a business associate today. She’s getting leads via email on LinkedIn, getting some inquires, and wanted to know what I recommend she do to follow up.

We talked about what she was doing and what she wanted to happen, and then I told her something I know she knew but needed to be reminded of.

I told her she needs to talk to these people.

You can use LinkedIn (or whatever) to get people to hold up their hand and ask for information, but if you want to sell them something (she does), the best thing you can do is transition from email or text chat to the phone, a video chat, or an in-person meeting.

It’s not the only way to sell (or get clients), by far. But it is the most effective.

You need to hear their voice and they need to hear yours. You need to ask questions and answer theirs. You need to see their body language and they need to see yours.

You need to connect with them and have a real conversation, because marketing is more than just delivering information.

When you talk to people, you can weed out the lookers and focus on the serious prospects. You can find out what they really want and what they’re willing to do about it. You can overcome objections and sign up more clients more quickly.

And if they’re not ready to hire you, you can set the stage for the time when they will be, and make sure they come back to you because they got to know you, like you, and trust you.

I’ve sold a lot of products and services without speaking to anyone. I’ll take that business all day, every day. But if I really needed to make a sale or sign up a new client, if my life literally depended on it, I’d take my fingers off the keyboard and call someone.

How to get your website to do most of the selling for you

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Your fees are too high

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What do you say to a client or prospective client who says your fees are too high?

Do you negotiate? Offer to reduce your fees?

Yeah, don’t do that.

Do you tell them that’s what you charge and they can take it or leave it?

Don’t do that, either.

Instead, say something like, “When you say my fees are too high, what are you comparing this to?”

Let them tell you about other lawyers who charge less.

And then show them why you charge more because you are worth more–to them.

Show the client what they get with you they won’t get from other attorneys.

The best way to do that, of course, is to let your other clients do it for you. Show them your positive reviews and testimonials and share success stories about what you’ve done for other clients.

But maybe the client doesn’t have anyone they’re comparing you with, they think all lawyers fees are too high.

In that case, go over their current problem or situation and ask how much this is costing them now, in terms of time and money and mental anguish.

Let them see how they will be better off hiring you than continuing to live with their current situation.

Finally, if they can’t see things your way, say something like this:

“I don’t want to take your money if you don’t think this is going to work for you. I understand you want to solve this problem but I don’t want to work with you if you’re not committed to working with me to solve it”.

C’mon, you know you want to.

Referred clients make the best clients. Here’s how to get more

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Closing the deal

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Lawyers need to be good closers, right? There are many sales techniques and scripts we can use to do that.

But most lawyers don’t use them.

Most lawyers simply deliver information to the prospective client, showing them what they do and how they can help them.

They tell them about the features and benefits of the services they offer, they tell them their options, they share some examples or stories and answer frequently asked questions.

But they don’t close.

No scripts, no techniques. At most, after they’ve presented the information, they ask the client, “What would you like to do?”

But you know what? That’s a closing question. A soft one, to be sure, but if you’ve done a good job of educating the client about what’s at stake and what you can do to help them, you probably don’t need anything else.

Are you relieved?

You can let the client sell (and close) themselves.

Besides, you don’t want clients who feel like they “got sold” or who regret signing up, do you? If they’re a good candidate for your services, they’ll make the right decision for them, which is also the right decision for you.

On the other hand, every lawyer should learn some basic sales skills, including how to close.

Because not every prospective client will do a good job of selling themselves and may need a little help from you.

And that’s really what sales is about: helping people make good decisions.

When you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing. . .

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