Charging clients more because you are worth more


I heard from an attorney who says he gets tongue tied speaking with prospective clients about fees and tends to lean towards charging less. Even then, he’s afraid they will think he charges too much.

I told him to write out what he would say to them if he was confident about his fees–why he charges what he does, the benefits he offers, why he’s worth more than other lawyers, and so on.

Write it, read it, contemplate it. And then post it, or a version thereof, on your website so that prospective clients will be able to read it before they ever speak to you. They will understand that you charge a bit more but you’re worth it.

You might want to try this, too. Write down all that you do for your clients, from soup to nuts. Write down all the little things you do to make their experience with you as comfortable as possible. Write down all of the things you do to help them achieve a successful outcome.

You don’t have to post all of this on your site but you do need to see the value in what you do. You need to understand why you are worth more.

But what if you don’t believe you are worth more?

Then you have work to do. Because if you want to charge higher fees than you currently charge, if you want to charge more than other lawyers charge, you have to believe that you are worth more.

If you believe it, you won’t have any trouble talking about fees. You will do it confidently. It is a selling point for you. You want clients to know that when they hire you they get incredible value for what they pay.

Charging clients more comes down to believing you are worth more.

But keep in mind that when it comes to something as abstract as fees for professional services, value is relative and perception is everything. You’re worth what clients are willing to pay and you’re willing to accept.

No more and no less.


Would you like to get started today or is next week better for you?


In sales, the “alternative choice close” is a well known technique for getting the client to buy something, rather than nothing. You ask them if they want “A” or “B” and no matter which one they choose, they’re buying something.

“Credit card or check?” “Deluxe package or basic package?” “Would you like to come in at noon or 4:30?”

Clients want you to help them make a decision. They know they might procrastinate and never get the work done. When you help them take action and get the benefits they want and need, you’re acting in their best interest.

And did I mention you’ll also get more clients?

Anyway, you can also use the “alternative choice” concept to improve your own decision making and productivity. It can help you reduce procrastination.

The idea is to always have more than one project you’re working on, or could be.

Writer Geoff Dyer put it this way:

Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other.

If you find yourself procrastinating on Project A, you can turn to Project B. Or Project C. When you find yourself resisting something, work on something else.

You probably do this now with client files. When you are frustrated or bored or unsure of what to do next on a given file, you put it aside and work another.

I do this with blog post and other writing projects. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire and when I run out of steam on something, I’ve always got something else I can work on.

I also do this with reading books. I have thousands of books in my Kindle and I usually read two or three of them at a time. When I find myself losing interest with one, I turn to another.

You can use the “alternative choice” concept for anything you’re working on, or should be. Calls, letters, documents (drafting or reviewing), even errands. Always have something else lined up, because doing “A” or “B” will always be better than doing nothing.


Why didn’t the client hire you?


You’ve met with a prospective client. You’ve given them a free consultation or done the dog-and-pony show. It’s decision time for them and unfortunately, the decision is “no”. You didn’t get the job.

You need to find out why.

Ask them why they chose someone else.

In your presentation or conversation, did you forget to say something they wanted to hear?

Did they think you don’t have enough experience? The right experience? What would have made a difference?

Did they see a bad review online or talk to someone who said negative things about you?

Were they unable to afford your fee? Would they have said yes if you offered a payment plan or accepted credit cards?

Were they expecting you to be more solicitous and comforting? Did you do something during the consultation they didn’t like (e.g., taking calls, checking texts, not making eye contact)?

Was it your website, or lack thereof? Were you lacking in content that proved you are good at what you do and have helped others?

Or was everything “okay” but other lawyers looked better or offered more? Clients have been known to hire the lawyer who offers free parking over the equally qualified one who doesn’t.

You need to know. If you made a mistake, if you don’t offer something clients want, if your bedside manner needs improvement, you’ll want to fix that so it doesn’t happen again.

So ask: why didn’t we get the job?

But here’s the thing. When they DO hire you, you should also ask why. What are you doing right? Why did they choose you instead of others?

Fixing your mistakes and neutralizing your weaknesses are important, but it’s even more important to maximize your strengths.

If new clients consistently tell you they like all the great content on your website, for example, that it helped them see the depth of your knowledge and experience and get a sense of what it would be like to work with you, you’ll want to do more of the same. If they chose you because of a referral from another professional, you’ll want to thank that person, reciprocate, and find more like them.

Clients will tell you why they did or did not hire you and their feedback is invaluable. But you won’t get that feedback unless you ask.

Turn your website into a client magnet. Here’s how.


The best way to end an email


What’s the best way to end an email?

The same thing you do at the end of any closing argument, presentation, meeting, pleading, report, blog post, or other persuasive communication.

Tell the reader what to do.

Tell them to buy. Sign up. Click here. Remember these three things. Go here. Do this.

When you tell people what to do, more people do it.

Can’t they decide for themselves? Sure. And they will. You’re not forcing them to do anything, you’re just pointing the way. Instead of leaving things up in the air and asking the reader to figure out what you want, you’re telling them.

And guess what? People want you to tell them. The judge wants to know what you want. The audience wants to know what you’re selling. The client wants to know what you advise. When you tell people what to do, you’re making things easier for them.

Of course somewhere in your opus you should tell them why. You have to back up your call to action with some substance. Tell them how they benefit, why it’s the right decision, what will happen if they don’t.

The call to action doesn’t literally have to be the last thing you say. You could tell them what to do and follow that with a memorable quote, a short story, or additional bullet points in support of your request. But don’t walk off the stage or sign your letter until you’ve told them what to do next.

You’re not in the entertainment business, you’re in the persuasion business. Do your job. Tell people what to do, and why.

Like this:

If you want to get more clients and increase your income, go to this page and buy everything.


Is your marketing message like a horror movie? I hope so.


Suppose you went to a horror movie and it was 90 minutes of non-stop slashing and killing. No plot, no character development, no suspense. You see the bad guy in action from start to finish. You know what’s going to happen next (more blood and guts) and you don’t care.

Bad script.

A good script plays with your emotions. It makes you think something might happen to someone you care about, but you’re not sure what it is or when it will happen. It tells a story, so that you can feel what the characters feel and get scared right along with them. There is a rhythm to the film, with highs and lows and twists and turns which keeps the story moving towards a satisfying ending.

You need to tell a similar story in your marketing.

Let’s say you handle divorce and you have an email list. Prospective clients subscribe because they are interested in learning more about divorce and haven’t made up their mind about what to do. So, you start emailing. What do you say?

Many lawyers send their list an endless message depicting the client’s pain (bad marriage) and the ultimate solution (divorce). Every email is basically the same.


Bad movie. Your audience is more than likely to walk out (un-subscribe).

Nobody wants to listen to a non stop recitation of painful thoughts, any more than they want to watch 90 minutes of evisceration. Give your readers a dose of pain and problems, but then give them some relief before you go at it again.

Tell them about the problem and the solution you offer. Then, talk about something else. Tell them about one of your clients–what they went through and how they came out okay. After that, tell them another client story with a happy ending. Ah, just when they are feeling good and forgetting about their pain, boom, you remind them again about what might happen if they don’t take action.

The problems is still there. It’s not going away. They need to do something.

Next message, you might talk about alternative solutions. Mediation, counseling, marriage encounter.

Options. Relief. Something else that might work. Give them information, ideas, links.

Then, maybe something completely off topic. Talk about the wind chimes on your patio and how relaxing it is to watch the sunset and listen to the chimes after a hard day at work. Your list sees that you are a real person with problems and stress in your life, just like them.

Then you might talk about wills and trusts. This might not be one of your practice areas but everyone needs to know something about this, including people thinking about divorce. Give them a few tips. Refer them to a good estate planning lawyer you know.

Next up, more pain. They thought you had forgotten about that. They were trying to forget about it, but there you are, reminding them again. And you’re right. The problem isn’t going to go away by itself. They have to do something.

You mention that you have a questionnaire on your website that might help them put their situation into perspective. They fill it out. They see that you offer to speak with them, no charge or obligation, to answer their questions and tell them more about their options. They’ve been hearing from you for awhile. They trust you. They call.

Marketing is like dating. You don’t clobber the girl with a club and drag her to your cave. You court her. You let her know something about you and what you have to offer. You give her time to get to know you. You back off and let things develop naturally.

When she’s ready, she’ll let you know.

Learn how to build an email list and use it to get clients. Get this.


The two stages of following up with prospective clients


So, someone is interested. You talked to them about how you can help them, they came to a seminar, or requested information. You may or may not know where they are in terms of hiring you (or not), but you understand that following up with prospective clients can bring you a lot of business.

What do you do?

Following up with prospective clients (and this can include former clients who have inquired about another one of your services) should be done in two stages.

Stage one takes place soon after the initial conversation, consultation, or request for information. How soon depends on the nature of their problem. For most legal issues we’re talking days, not months.

In stage one, you contact them frequently and send them lots of information.

Your letters and emails (and calls, possibly) have an element of urgency. If you have made an offer for a free or discounted service, there is a deadline, the clock is ticking, and you remind them about this often, right up until the deadline has expired.

You or someone in your office should call them. Ask if they want to schedule an appointment to get started. Ask if they reviewed the information you sent. Ask if they have any questions. You have to assume they will be making a decision soon and that they have or will talk to other attorneys. You want them to choose you.

Stage two follow-up is for prospective clients who went through stage one but did not hire you. They may have hired another lawyer or done nothing. The legal situation that precipitated their first contact with you has either passed or is under control. They may hire you for that matter at some point in the future, or for something else.

Stage two is your “drip list”.

You contact them less frequently, and with less urgency. You send them a little bit of information (about your services, about their legal issues) from time to time. You don’t wait months but you don’t send them something every day.

You might invite them to another event, offer them a free or discounted service (or renew your original offer), or encourage them to call with questions. You gently remind them that you are still handling the kinds of matters they first inquired about, and you tell them about your other services or practice areas.

Stage one follow-up runs its course in matter of days or weeks. Stage two follow-up takes place forever. Someone who talked to you today may hire you ten years from now, if you stay in touch with them. They may never hire you but send referrals.

Your might fold your drip list into your newsletter list. After all, they have the same purpose.

Learn more about following up with email and how to Make the Phone Ring


When prospective clients interview you for the job


I once had a client interview me before hiring me. It only happened once in my career, probably because 99% of my clients came from referrals. (She didn’t hire me. I never found out why. It was thirty years ago. I’m over it, now.)

Today, many clients find lawyers through the Internet and other means, and because there are so many articles and blog posts educating them about what to ask a lawyer before they hire them, if you haven’t been interviewed for the job, there’s a good chance you will.

Will you be ready?

One way to get ready is to post content on your website that addresses the questions prospective clients typically ask. The process of writing that content will also prepare you to answer those questions in the event someone bypasses your website. It also helps you codify your philosophies, policies, and procedures, forcing you to examine what you do so you can make improvements.

I read an article recently, for employers interviewing job candidates, that presented “killer questions” to ask to eliminate the duds. I thought the first question was applicable to clients hiring lawyers:

‘Tell me about a work achievement you are most proud of?’

Clients may not ask this per se, but isn’t this something lawyers should be prepared to answer?

Take 30 minutes this week and write three paragraphs about something in your career that you are especially proud of. What was your most gratifying or challenging case? If you were writing your obituary or eulogy, what would you like to be said about your work.

Post this on your website. When prospective clients interview you for the job, or a reporter or blogger interviews you for an article, you’ll be ready.

Did you know, Make The Phone Ring shows you how to create great content for your website? Check it out on this page.


Trust me, I’m a lawyer


We all know that if people don’t trust you, they won’t hire you. And trust is not automatic. You have to earn it. 

Many people will give you the benefit of the doubt, at first, especially if you were referred to them. But their trust can be lost in a heartbeat.

My wife used a referral service she likes to have some roofers come out for an inspection. First one, great. On time, friendly, plain spoken. He showed her photos of some minor issues that need work and gave her an estimate. She liked what he said and he’s in the running.

Yesterday, the second one showed up (from the same referral service), but there was a problem. He couldn’t get up on the roof. It seems he had a short, fold-up ladder, which he transported in the trunk of his car, and it wouldn’t reach. When my wife asked why he didn’t bring a longer ladder, he explained that he would need to drive a truck and the gas would be too expensive.

Done. My wife instantly knew this guy wouldn’t get the job.

He said he could send someone with the truck later in the week. Right, after waiting for this guy to show up and experiencing his bewildering lack of preparedness, my wife will happily sit around waiting for one of his guys to show up. Guess again.

“I don’t trust him,” she told me. And I don’t blame her.

So now, he’s not getting the job and he’ll get a bad review on the referral service website.


Prospective clients aren’t looking for a reason to hire you so much as they are looking for a reason to disqualify you. And it doesn’t take much. If you are unprepared, if you squawk about your costs of doing business (build the gas money into your fees, bub), if you do anything that says “unprofessional,” that’s it. You’re off the list.

Anything can knock you out of the running. Someone doesn’t like your photo on your website because you look mean, or there is no photo on your website so they can’t look at your eyes, or you didn’t call them back right away, or you yawned on the phone and sounded like you didn’t care.


Am I saying you have to meet certain minimum standards to even be in the running? Yes. Getting the basics right only gets you in the game. If you want to get the job, you have to do even more.

Yes, it’s hard. You have to be ever vigilant and pay attention to detail. When you are in a service business or a profession, it’s not just the quality of your work, it’s about the entire client experience.

But hey, you’re lucky. At least you don’t have to schlep a ladder.

Want more referrals? Get The 30 Day Referral Blitz


What to do when a potential client says no


You meet with a prospective client, diagnose their problem, propose a solution, and quote a fee. They need your help, but tell you they want to think about it. They don’t call.

What should you do? How can you get them to hire you?

Sorry, bub. It’s probably too late. “I want to think about it” usually means no. It’s an excuse for some other objection.

They aren’t convinced they need a lawyer’s help. They aren’t convinced you’re the one they should choose. They don’t have the money. Or they need some else’s permission.

By and large, these objections should be dealt with before the client calls for an appointment or before they meet you.

You post information on your website, so they know why they need a lawyer and why they should choose you. You post detailed answers to FAQ’s, about your area of the law and the available options you offer.

You don’t quote fees online (or on the phone), but provide guidelines, so people have a general idea of how much they can expect to pay and what payment options you offer. They know they can’t hire you for $1,000 but it won’t cost them $100,000. They know they don’t need to pay 100% up front but they know they have to pay something.

Do this and when they call, they will already know that they need a lawyer and that you’re the one they want. They’ll know they will probably be able to afford your fees.

When they call to make an appointment, you make sure they bring their spouse or partner or other decision maker, or that they otherwise have the authority to hire you.

Now, when they’re in the office and you diagnose their problem, propose a solution, and quote a fee, you have eliminated most or all of their reasons to say no. If there are any remaining objections, you find out about them and deal them when they’re sitting in your office.

This way, they don’t have to think about it.

You deal with objections before they arise. You eliminate reasons to say no before they are said. After the fact, there’s not a lot you can do.

When a potential client says no, or I want to think about, or otherwise does not hire you, don’t blame them, and don’t chase them. Put them on your mailing list and stay in touch with them because they may hire you some day or refer business some day. But probably not today.

Learn what to put on your website to eliminate objections before they arise. Click here.


How to get more legal clients with promotions


In many ways, selling legal services is like selling any product or service. You tell people what you can do to help them solve a problem or achieve an objective, you tell them your “price,” and they make a decision. They hire you or they don’t.

Many of the ones who don’t hire you are on the fence. They’re not sure if they can afford it, they’re not sure if they should choose you or another attorney, or they’re not sure if they really need to hire anyone right now.

There are many fence sitters on your list. People you have talked to or sent some information, people who heard you speak or saw your video, prospective clients who almost hired you, but didn’t. One of the easiest ways to get more clients is to offer those fence sitters a special incentive that tips the scale in favor of hiring you.

There are two key elements to this offer. The first is value. Something extra for saying yes: a discount, a bonus (i.e., a free extra service), recognition on your website or in your newsletter, enhanced access to you, or an entry into a drawing for a special prize. Another example: Announce an impending fee increase and allow them to lock in the current rate.

The second element is scarcity: a time limit or limited quantity. A date when the offer expires or a limit on how many you will accept.

The second element is the more important of the two. Remember, they were already interested in your services. They don’t really need anything extra. It is the time limit (or fixed quantity) that gets them off the fence.

Fear of losing the special offer gets them to decide.

Promotions can help you sign up a lot of business. In addition to getting fence sitters off the fence, they can get prospects to choose you instead of your competition, get former clients to return, and get new clients to sign up for more services than they originally contemplated.

Find something you can promote. Add a deadline or limited quantity. Promote it.

Promoting is much more than announcing. Promoting means dramatizing the benefits of the special offer (as well as the core services). It means telling them what they will gain and also, what they will lose if they don’t accept the offer.

Promoting means repeating the special offer frequently, reminding prospects of the benefits and the impending deadline. It means telling them there are “only 48 hours left” or “only three spots remaining” and that the clock is ticking.

You don’t have to look beyond your email inbox to see examples of promotions. You’ve gotten them from me and from others, and no doubt purchased many products and services about which you were previously on the fence.

Promotions work, and you can use them to sell more of your legal services.

By the way, if you’re thinking a promotion might be unseemly or inappropriate for your practice, here’s what I suggest. Tie your promotion to a charity or worthy cause.

You might run a holiday promotion. For every new client who signs up before December 10th, you’ll donate $100 worth of new, unwrapped toys to your local “Toys for Tots”. C’mon folks, do it for the kids.

Marketing is simple. If you want to know how to get more legal clients, this is how. Create a special offer, put a time limit on it, and promote it to your list.

Want more referrals? Get The 30 Day Referral Blitz.