Thank you

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A prospective client hires you. You send them a welcome letter, thanking them for choosing you and assuring them you’ll do a good job for them.

Well done.

What about prospective clients who don’t hire you? Or who meet with you and haven’t yet decided to go forward? Do you send them anything, a thank you note for meeting with you and considering you?

You should.

Not only is it good manners, it is an easy way to show people your character and professionalism, and convey to the would-be client that you want to work with them.

Smart job candidates send a thank you note after their interview with a recruiter or hiring manager. When a prospective client meets with you, they’re interviewing you for the job, aren’t they?

Send a letter, an email, or both. Tell them you appreciate being considered, say something positive about something they said or about their case or company, showing that you understand their situation and believe you can help them.

You might consider a hand-written thank you note because few people do that anymore.

Actually, few lawyers send a thank you note of any kind after their first meeting with a prospective client. That’s another reason you should. It is a simple but effective way to get prospective clients to put you on their short list.

Thank you for reading this message. I appreciate that you took a few minutes from your busy day to read my words. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.

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I might not be the right lawyer for you

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Scrivener is my favorite writing app for long documents. I use it on two Windows machines and my iPhone. 

But Scrivener has a flaw.

Because of the way the software is built, you can’t use iCloud to sync between devices, you have to use Dropbox. 

(Funny, I use another writing app that doesn’t play well with Dropbox; I have to use iCloud to sync.)

Anyway, on the App store, Scrivener generally gets great reviews, but there is a chorus of complaints from customers who want to sync via iCloud and are PO’d that they cannot. So they give Scrivener one- or two-star reviews and call it a day.

The sales page says that syncing “requires a Dropbox account (not compatible with iCloud” but it’s a footnote and, apparently, a lot of folks miss it. 

If I was in charge, I would put the “no iCloud”disclaimer up front and center.

I would explain the technical reason why you can’t use iCloud and talk about why had to do it this way so that customers could get certain unique features that are key to Scrivener’s greatness. 

This will cut down on bad reviews but it should also lead to more sales to customers who are intrigued enough by the unique features of the app that they’re willing to switch to Dropbox to get them. 

In sales, this is known as “admitting your flaws”. It’s designed to reduce objections, buyer’s remorse, and bad reviews. Telling customers the flaws of your product or service before they discover them on their own builds trust and allows you to turn a weakness into a strength.

It works the same whether you’re selling software, houses, or legal services. 

I heard from an immigration attorney recently who isn’t an “accredited specialist” in his country because he doesn’t do the type of work that the accreditation accredits. He wanted to know how he should handle this on his website and other marketing. 

He should be upfront about it.

Admit his “flaw”. Explain that he specializes in a different area of immigration law and that accreditation isn’t required to practice in this area. 

He should do this because some prospective clients are no doubt wondering why he isn’t accredited, as they see other lawyers are. 

Give them a good explanation and most of them will not only be satisfied, they’ll see that you specialize in precisely the services they need (instead of everything) and thus see you as the better choice. 

He added, “It’s interesting because just yesterday I was reading the website of a competitor who is an accredited specialist and I was more drawn to his personal story about why he does migration than his credentials. If I was a potential client of his that’s what would get me.”

Me too. 

What to put on your website

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When a prospective client says you charge too much

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What do you say to a prospective client who says you charge too much or you charge more than other lawyers for the same work?

If you don’t at least occasionally hear this, you may not be charging enough. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Anyway, what do you tell the client who balks at your fees?

One thing you can do is explain what you don’t charge for.

Tell them about free services or extras you provide, at no additional charge. This will not only increase the perceived value of your services, it will imply that other lawyers don’t include those things, even if they do.

For example, you might tell them that instead of having an employee meet with them, you will personally meet with them and go through the documents (discovery, etc.), explaining everything, answering all of their questions, and making sure everything is done right.

Or, tell them that when they hire you to do X, they also get Y.

Turn a potential negative into a selling point. A reason to choose you instead of any other attorney they might find.

But don’t wait for clients to complain about your fees or ask why you charge so much. They might not bother to ask and just call someone else.

Instead, post information on your website describing all the value and extra services you provide your clients. Tell them what’s included, and don’t scrimp on the details. Explain this at the first appointment, too.

You want clients to think, “She may charge a bit more but I can see that she’s worth it,” and this is a simple way to do that.

How to prepare invoices that get paid promptly

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I want your case

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According to HR professionals, few job applicants say the one thing they should say in an interview to give themselves the edge as a candidate for the job.

They don’t say, “I want this job.”

Employers want to know you want what they have to offer. They want to know that you’re excited about working at the company and eager to get started.

Why should they hire you if you’re not?

Anyway, I was thinking about how lawyers are in the same position with prospective clients. Clients want to know that we want them as a client.

Does that mean we should tell them we want their case or that we want to be their lawyer?

No. We shouldn’t say that. But we should tell them this nevertheless.

Through our body language, the questions we ask and the comments we make, we should let them know that we are enthusiastic about working with them or that we understand their pain and want to help them alleviate it.

We need to tell prospective clients that we are not only ready, willing, and able to help them, we want to.

Yes you can get more referrals

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Don’t show all your cards to prospective clients

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You have an appointment with a prospective client. You plan to tell them everything you will do to help them with their problem. You’ll describe all of your services and give them a list of the many deliverables they can expect.

Before you tell them everything, you might want to hold something back.

Instead of telling them about A, B, and C, maybe only tell them about A and B. Because if you spill your guts the first time you speak with prospective clients, you won’t have anything left to offer them later.

  • To offer as a bonus for signing up TODAY (e.g., at your seminar, this week only, etc.) instead of waiting
  • To get them off the fence when they want to think about it, talk to someone, or otherwise put it off
  • As an incentive: buy A and B, get C, at no additional cost
  • As an upsell (an optional service they can also “buy”)
  • As an unannounced bonus, to surprise them with after they sign up

You hold things back when you negotiate on behalf of clients, right? Same concept.

If you don’t have anything you can hold back, create something. A voucher they can use on another matter or a service provided by another professional.

Hold something back. You never know when you might need it.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula

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When to qualify prospective clients for money

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Some clients can’t afford you. They need your help, they trust you and want to sign up, they just don’t have the money, or they have it but don’t want to spend it.

When would you like to find that out?

Before they meet with you, or after you’ve spent a lot of time talking to them about their problem and your solution?

If you talk to them and they don’t hire you, is that a complete waste of time?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe they’ll realize they have to do something and they will beg, borrow, or steal the money to pay you. Maybe they’ll hire another lawyer who will mess things up and they’ll come back to you to fix things, at greater cost. Or, maybe they can’t afford your primary service right now but they can afford one of your “entry level” services and get more help later.

Maybe they won’t ever hire you but they will appreciate you for meeting with them and send you referrals.

So, it depends.

Clearly, however, you can’t spend all your time talking to people who don’t have any money. You need to weed them out in advance.

How do you do that?

By promoting your services to target markets and prospective clients who have money and avoiding the ones who don’t.

By educating your referral services about your ideal client and including something about fees and retainers.

By giving prospective clients (on your website, in your ads or other marketing materials), a general idea of what they will need to pay up front.

And, when you meet with prospective clients, qualifying them as to their ability to pay.

How do you the latter? Early on, say something like this:

“I’ll need to get more information, of course, before I can tell you what I can do for you. If I can help you, you need to know that my minimum fee is X [I’ll need a retainer of X]. Would that be a problem for you?”

If they say it won’t be a problem, mazeltov. If they say it might be a problem, or their body language tells you it is, you can explore that subject further or head in a different direction.

How to get referrals from people who don’t hire you

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Why you need to offer more than one option

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Your prospective client balks at signing up for your $15,000 “Standard” package. What do you do?

  1. Show him why he needs it and why it is a good value?
  2. Show him your $9,000 “Basic” package?
  3. Show him your $22,000 “Deluxe” package?
  4. Show him the door because you don’t have any other packages?

Some say that you should “drop down” to the lower priced package because it will appear more affordable next to the more expensive option you first showed him. Others say that if you do that, the prospect will be more likely to see the lesser-priced option as inferior and “buy” nothing.

They say that instead of moving down in price, you should move up.

Moving up in price, that is, from your $15,000 package to your $22,000 package will get the prospect thinking in terms of value instead of price, they say. If money is truly a factor for him, your $15,000 package may now seem more attractive.

My thoughts:

  • Clients are always concerned about price but they are more concerned about making a mistake. If they can afford it, they would rather pay more and make the right decision.
  • It’s not just the price that’s important, it is the perceived value. A more expensive option that includes a lot of “nice to have but not essential” elements is different than a package of “critically important” elements, which is different than a package of “important but can wait” elements.
  • What you should do depends on what you’re offering and what other options the client has, i.e., other lawyers, waiting. Try both strategies (higher then lower, and lower then higher) and see which one works best.
  • If the client still can’t decide and is ready to walk, having an undisclosed third option ($9,000/Basic) might allow you to save the sale.
  • In some circumstances, it might be best to offer all three options to the client right from the beginning.

How’s that for a lawyer-like answer?

One thing is certain: not having at least one other option should never be an option. Always have something else to offer a would-be client because showing them the door isn’t a good option for either of you.

You’ll get more clients signing up when they are referrals

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I need to think about it

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There are lots of reasons why a prospective client might hesitate to sign up. Here are some of the thoughts going through their mind:

  • Do I really need this service?
  • Can I wait?
  • Can I fix this myself?
  • Will this solve my problem?
  • Is this the right attorney for the job? How do I know they can handle this?
  • Does she have a lower-priced service?
  • Why do I need to pay upfront/retainer?
  • Are there any additional charges? Hidden expenses?
  • Why do I have to pay by the hour? Why not a flat fee?
  • Can I negotiate the fee?
  • Maybe other lawyers charge less per hour or offer a flat fee
  • Should I talk to [someone] first?
  • Is there a different legal service that would be good enough?
  • Can I trust this lawyer? Will he overcharge me? Cheat me? Let me down?
  • Do I need all of these services at once or can I get started with one or two?
  • Am I making a mistake?
  • What will [someone else] think about my decision?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • What if X happens? Will I have to come back and pay more?
  • What if she does a bad job? Do I have any recourse?
  • If I tell her X, how do I know she won’t tell [someone else]?

You should be prepared for all of these, and more.

Your best bet is to anticipate these questions and concerns and address them before they are voiced. Do that in your marketing materials, FAQ’s, website, presentations, and consultations.

Explain your policies and your process. Give examples in “if/then” language. Share stories to illustrate.

Inevitably, you’ll still be asked these kinds of questions and you should practice delivering your responses. Also, practice how you will smoothly transition to the next step—getting your agreement signed and payment tendered.

You should know exactly what you will say the next time a prospective client says, “I need to think about it”.

Prospective clients are nervous and afraid of making a mistake. Being prepared to patiently and calmly answer their questions and address their concerns will go a long way towards getting them to take the next step.

Referred clients are easier to sign up

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A confused mind says no

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Most lawyers give prospective clients two choices: hire me or don’t. There are no other options. Too often, the prospect chooses to go elsewhere, wait, or do nothing.

If you want to increase your intake of new clients and maximize your revenue, give people more options to work with you or move your relationship forward.

Here are a few examples:

  • Service A or Service B
  • Service A and Service B (at a small discount, with extra free services or other benefits)
  • Package A or Package B (with different services, features, benefits and price points)
  • Hire me or schedule a free consultation
  • Schedule a free consultation or call me with questions
  • Hire me today or download/review this (web pages, articles, your report, your planning guide, etc.)
  • Attend my free webinar/seminar this week or next month
  • Hire me or follow me (and watch my videos or read my posts)
  • Hire me today or sign up for my newsletter so I can send you valuable information

Give folks more options and you’ll increase the chances that they will choose something that’s good for you.

On the other hand, don’t make the mistake of giving people too many options. If you do that, you run the risk that the prospect won’t be able to choose and will wander (or run) away. It’s called “decision fatigue” and it’s a well-documented phenomenon.

In one study, researchers at Columbia University posed as employees at a grocery store and offered passerby samples of jams. When the researchers used six varities, 30% who tried a sample purchased a jar. When researchers offered 24 varieties, however, only 3% bought something.

Of course, hiring a lawyer is a far more complex, expensive, and intimidating transaction than buying jelly. The risks of overwhelming prospects is much greater.

Offer a few options, not dozens. But give them more options besides “hire me or don’t”.

More

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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.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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