It’s not just what you say, but when you say it


It’s called “staging” and it makes your written or spoken message more effective by putting your points in the most effective order. 

For example, you stage your material when you start an article or presentation with the problem, not the solution, and follow that by explaining the risks of ignoring the problem or choosing a poor solution. 

After you describe the risks, you build on that with examples of what might happen, the costs, delays, pain and suffering, and secondary problems that can occur. 

Now, you have your reader’s attention and the desire to hear the solution. When you then describe the solution, e.g., your services, they’re all ears and ready to know what to do to get this solution. 

You tell them what to do, e.g., call, fill out a form, etc., and to seal the deal, you tell them the benefits of taking that next step—clarity, relief, a proven plan of action, saving money, etc. 

That’s staging. That’s using a logical order to improve your audience’s understanding, build tension, and show them a way to release that tension precisely when your reader or listener is most likely to do it.

But staging isn’t just the order in which you present the elements of your message. It’s also about how you transition from one element to the next. 

Want an example? (There, “Want an example?” is an example of a transitional phrase that pulls the reader forward to the next element, in this case, an example).

Transitional phrases keep readers reading and listeners listening. They do that by asking questions and painting pictures in their mind with statements that get them to focus on an image or feeling, ready to hear more.

There are many ways to accomplish this. For example, you can ask, “What do you think might happen if. . ?” and letting their imagination do the rest. Or, “Imagine how you’ll feel when you no longer have. . .”. 

You can also use transitional phrases to transition to your call to action or close. 

A few examples:

“At this point, there are 3 questions you should be asking yourself. . .”

“When I show this to people, they usually tell me/ask me. . .”

“Here are your options. . . which one makes the most sense to you?” 

“If this describes your situation, here’s what I recommend. . .”

Think of this type of transitional phrase as a palate cleanser, making the reader ready for the next course. 

Anyway, this is just a brief introduction to staging and transitional phrases. You don’t need to be a marketing expert or copywriter to use them. But do pay attention to how others use them in their writing and presentations, and consider how you might use them in yours.


It never stops


You may not want to hear this, but here it is: lawyers sell legal services. 

Yes, you’re a professional and tiy are hired to provide professional services. No, you’re not a salesperson. But when a new client signs up, or an existing client hires you again, a sale has taken place, and you made that happen. 

And guess what? Selling doesn’t stop when they sign the retainer agreement. In fact, it never stops. 

You sell them on hiring you and then you sell them on staying with you.

You sell them on upgrading to your deluxe package or signing up for your monthly plan. 

You sell them on coming back to you after the initial case.

You sell them on giving you their other legal work. All of it, now and forever. (Or at least asking you about it so you can introduce them to other lawyers who can do the job).

You sell them on sending you referrals. And, once they’ve done that, on sending you more referrals. 

You sell them on introducing you to other professionals and influential people they know and work with. 

You sell them on providing you with reviews and testimonials, sending traffic to your site, promoting your events, and passing out your business card and brochure. 

And you sell them on having reasonable expectations about the outcome of their case (so you can exceed their expectation).

Of course, it’s not just prospects and clients you sell. You also sell insurance adjusters, opposing counsel, co-counsel, judges and juries, your client’s partners, directors and officers, and everyone else in your world. 

It’s all selling. And it never stops. 

And that’s a good thing because that’s how you build a more successful practice.


This post might not be right for you


There’s a phrase you should use in your marketing that might make your services more desirable. It’s based on the concept of exclusivity, that what you offer isn’t for everyone.

And that’s the phrase.

Tell people that “it” (your services, offers, seminars, etc.) isn’t for everyone.

First, because that’s true. And your candidness is refreshing.

Second, because it makes what you’re offering more specialized, valuable, and desirable.

It’s a type of takeaway which is powerful in marketing because people want what they can’t have, especially when they had it but it was taken away. That might happen when they see your offer, think it’s for everyone, and then learn it might not be for them.

It makes people wonder if “it” is right for them and then take steps to find out. 

If it isn’t for them, they don’t need to waste their time (which is good for you as well as them). If it is right for them, they often feel the need to act immediately, to get what they need and not miss out. And if they’re not sure, they realize they need to get more information or ask questions, which is also good for both of you.

So when you say “it’s not for everyone” you might also suggest they read something or contact you to find out.

Telling folks it’s not for everyone or “it might be right for you” makes you more credible, especially compared to those who make it look like what they do is for anyone.

It can also make you more in demand because people want what others have and they might stick around long enough to find out if they can get or should get it too.


Selling legal services, et. al.


Let’s clear this up once and for all: Lawyers sell legal services.

There, I said it.

It doesn’t make you a salesperson, but you can’t deny the fact that when someone hires you, a sale takes place.

The more of your services you sell, the more you earn. Pure and simple.

But that’s not all you sell.

Clients pay for your legal services, but what they want and expect you to deliver, what they really pay for, are solutions to their problems.

They hire you to get the benefits you deliver.

Get better at selling those solutions and benefits and you will sell more of your services.

Hold on. We’re not done.

You also sell clients the “experience” of working with you. How your clients feel having you in their corner, how you treat them and make them feel appreciated, and everything else under the ‘client relations’ banner.

Do a good job of this and your clients will stick around, return, and tell others. Mess up and they won’t.

It’s all selling.

But before clients can see any of this, before they hire you, there’s something else they buy (and you sell).

Your reputation.

You’re judged by your record of accomplishments and the things people say about you.

Even when your reputation is stellar, you still need to sell it because many clients can’t discern this. To most clients, we all look alike.

It’s called “reputation management” but it’s really just more selling.

I’ve got one more for you. Something else you sell.

You sell information.

About the law, problems and solutions, the how-to’s,—via your articles and posts, reports and books, presentations and other content.

Clients don’t pay for this information but you need to sell them on reading or listening, because this information shows them you know what you’re doing and can deliver the solutions they want.

Get better at selling this information and you get more leads and prospective clients contacting you, pre-sold on hiring you.

In fact, if your information is good enough, it will do most of the selling for you.

Which is why I repeatedly tell you to create a blog and newsletter.


Sell me your legal services


You do it every day. You do it so well and so often you may not realize you’re doing it, or want to admit it. 

But you do. You sell your legal services.

You do that by following 5 steps:

  1. Questions. You ask lots of them, to get the information you need to diagnose the client’s problem and prescribe the solution. 
  2. Listen. You do that to make sure you understand what the client says, what they don’t say, what they want and what they don’t want.
  3. Options. You tell the would-be client what you can do to help them, and what might happen if they delay or do nothing. 
  4. Objections. They tell you why they aren’t ready, don’t have the money, or otherwise can’t get started, and you respond by helping them understand why they can and should. 
  5. Close. You ask them what they want to do, or you’ve done a good job of the preceding steps and they tell you. 

And, just like that, you have a new client. 

Or you don’t. They may not need your help or be ready and able to hire you. So you stay in touch with them until they are ready, or they have another matter for you, or a referral. 

Yes, that’s selling. That’s what you do. And while you’re good at it, why not get better?

Work on improving all the steps, but especially number 2. 

Listening is not only important for understanding, it shows the client you care about them and what they’re telling you. It’s how you validate the client and their problem, which is why it is arguably the most important step.

So, you make eye contact. Let them speak without interruption. Ask follow-up questions. And repeat back to them what you heard them say, to make sure.

You also let them see you write down what they say, because what they say is important and because you are thorough and pay attention to details.

Listening is an art. When you’re good at it, the client often sells themself. 

Marketing (and selling legal services) is easier when you know The Formula


Never say this to a client


You’re good at what you do. Perhaps very good. You’ve won a lot of cases, helped a lot of clients get great outcomes, and, objectively speaking, you are a damn fine lawyer.

Keep that to yourself.

Yes, you should be proud of your accomplishments, and you certainly want the world to know about them. But they shouldn’t hear about them from you.

Because saying these things makes you look bad.

You sound like you’re bragging, and nobody likes that, even if it’s true. Or you sound weak and needy, and that’s even worse.

You want your clients and prospective clients and professional contacts to know you are the best of the best. But they should hear it from other people.

Let them hear about your prowess via testimonials, endorsements, reviews, and world of mouth. Let them find out about your awards and glorious victories via third party articles about you and introductions of you prior to your presentations and interviews.

You can (and should) post everything on your website, but never utter the words yourself.

If you ever find yourself inclined to share your greatness with anyone, let it be in the form of a story—about your client or the case. You’re “in the picture,” of course, and it’s obvious that you were the facilitator of the win, but be the narrator, not the protagonist.


I’ve had two physicians say to me, “I’m really good at (the procedure they were trying to convince me to get)”. I rejected both of them, not because of what they were selling but because they were selling.

People like to buy but they don’t like being sold.

The best way to sell a client on your abilities is to have the client sell themselves. And that’s best done before the appointment.

Which is why we post everything on our website and equip our clients and contacts with information so they can do the selling for us.

When you’re speaking to anyone, the only selling you should do about yourself should be done by how you comport yourself.

Show the client you understand their situation. Restate the facts, explain the law, point out their risks and their options. If any of those options are risky or expensive, clearly explain the what and why and how.

Be clear and thorough. Most of all, be confident.

Because your confidence tells the client you’re good at what you do. And because if you’re confident, they will be confident. And they won’t need you to tell them you’re good at your job.


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


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.


I smashed a Like button and had to go to the ER


Clicking isn’t good enough, it seems. Everyone wants you to smash the “Like” button. They also want you to subscribe, hit the notification bell, and share the link to their post or channel with everyone you know or have ever met.

Sorry, Charlie, I’ve got other things to do.

Besides, you haven’t told me why I should do any of those things.

What’s in it for me?

Science tells us people are more likely to do what you ask of them if you give them a reason. It doesn’t have to be a good reason, any reason will do.

Tell people it helps your channel or it helps other people looking for this type of content to find it or, simply tell them you appreciate their support.

But while any reason works better than no reason, telling people the benefits they get for doing what you ask works even better.

Click the button so I know you want to see more free content like this.

Download this report, watch this presentation, go to this page, and you’ll learn (some valuable things).

Call to schedule an appointment so you can find out if you have a case and get your questions answered.

Tell people why.

Something else. Don’t ask for everything under the sun. Ask for one thing, maybe two. But not everything.

Ask them to Like (and tell them why) and you might get more Likes. Ask them to Like and subscribe and share and you might get none of the above.

Ask a visitor to your website to download your report (and tell them why) and you might get more downloads (and subscribers). Asking them to also share your post, read another article and sign up for your seminar, and many visitors will simply leave.

The same goes for your services. Talk about one of your services, offers, or packages, don’t give them a menu of everything you do.

Because when you ask people to do too much, or you give them too many options, they get confused and a confused mind usually says no.

Telling people what to do is good marketing and you should do it. But if you want more people to do what you ask, ask for one thing at a time (and tell them why).

Like this:

Please forward this post to a lawyer you know who might want to get more clients. They’ll appreciate you for thinking of them, and so will I.


Stop pitching and start listening


Prospective clients want to know what you can do to solve their problem or achieve their goal. What they don’t want is for you to make the conversation all about yourself.

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective client. You’re talking to an attorney about your legal matter. Would you want to hear how successful the attorney is, or would you be more interested in hearing what they can do for you?

Many attorneys rely on telling prospective clients about their experience and capabilities and try to impress them with what they’ve done for others. Experience and capabilities are important, but when you make that the focus of your conversation, prospects eventually tune out.

They want to talk about themselves, so let them. Encourage them to do that. Ask questions and let them do most of the talking.

Even when you understand their situation and are ready to present a solution, let them continue to vent and share their pain and frustrations.

And then, ask more questions.

Look for secondary problems caused by their legal situation–a loss of revenue or sleepless nights, for example, that may have caused their business or family to suffer.

Get them to tell you all about it, and listen to every word.

You listen to learn the facts, of course, but listening also shows the prospect that you care about them and truly want to help.

Show them you are listening by making eye contact, asking follow-up questions, repeating back to them what you heard and understand, and letting them see you take lots of notes.

Then, give them their options and tell them what you recommend. Follow that by describing the specific steps you will take to solve their problem and alleviate their pain.

When you let them do most of the talking, they’ll tell you what you need to say and do to get them to choose you as their attorney.

If you do it right, you may not need to talk about your experience and capabilities.


“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”


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