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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What to do when “nobody” shows up at your event?

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An attorney was hosting a “lunch and learn” for Chiropractors and didn’t have many RSVPs. She was thinking of canceling but went ahead with it after reading my previous post about how marketing is like riding the bus.

Anyway, she didn’t ask for my advice but I offered her some. I told her to move most of the chairs to the back of the room or to another room so that it doesn’t look like you expected 30 and only a few showed up.

Yes?

But what do you do after the event? And what do you do for your next one?

After the event, you email (or call) everyone who didn’t come and tell them they “missed an incredible event”. (Wasn’t it incredible that so few showed up?) You intimate that they missed something great, making it more likely that they will come next time.

And, next time, don’t announce the event or invite people to it–sell it.

People are busy. You need to persuade them that it’s worth taking their time to come to your event.

Tell them the benefits they will get and make ’em good.

Will they learn something they won’t learn anywhere else? Will they learn how to get more patients, save time, cut costs, or protect themselves? Will they get an edge over their competitors?

Will they get to meet someone special? Meet other DCs who are doing things they need to know about?

Will they be invited to your Facebook or Slack group, where they can network with their colleagues, exchange ideas (and referrals)?

Will they be able to get on a follow-up call or webinar or receive additional information that can help them?

And, share testimonials from their colleagues who attended your previous event.

Tell them you won’t do this again for another x months.

And then, call everyone on your invite list. Ask them to tell you that they will (or won’t) attend. Tell them, “seating is limited and we need to know if we should hold your seat or if it’s okay to give it to someone else”.

Do this and you won’t need to hide chairs, you’ll need to bring in extra.

Want to grow your practice quickly? Here’s what you need

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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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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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You’ve got to make people feel something

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We’re good with facts, you and I. We’re good at explaining the facts and helping people understand what they mean.

That’s important, but marketing requires a different skill.

To get people to hire you, send you business, share your content, sign up for your list, or do anything else you want, you can’t rely on just giving them the facts.

You’ve got to make them feel something.

Make them feel safe, understood, appreciated, or cared for. Talk about the relief they will feel when they hire you and the pain they will feel if they don’t.

You’ve heard the expression, “Facts tell, but stories sell”? Stories sell because they touch people’s emotions. That’s why you tell people about clients who didn’t listen (and got hurt), and about clients who did and got saved.

But don’t ignore the facts. People “buy” for emotional reasons, and justify their purchases based on logic. When you quote a big fee, for example, and tell the prospect what might happen if they don’t take action, you should also show them how they will save money in the long run by taking care of the problem now, before it gets worse.

In your next article or post, or the next time to speak with a prospective client, if you’re telling them to do something you know to be in their best interest, make sure you include an emotional appeal.

If you don’t, and they get hurt, it’s your fault, not theirs. If you do, and they get saved, you’re a hero.

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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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It’s time for you to come out

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I know, you didn’t go to law school to become a sales person. But guess what? That’s exactly what you are.

When a client hires you, money is paid, services are delivered—a sale takes place. You make that happen. You sell legal services.

Be proud.

You help people. You provide solutions to their problems. You remove or ameliorate their pain. You protect them, make their lives better and safer and more prosperous.

Tell people what you do. Don’t make them guess. Don’t make them ask. Tell them.

You don’t have to be pushy. You don’t have to hard sell, manipulate, or unduly frighten anyone into buying your services.

Just tell them what you can do for them.

Tell them about the problems you solve and the benefits you deliver. Tell them how you have helped other people with the same problems. Tell them what happens when they hire you. Tell them why they should hire you instead of anyone else.

Give them information. Encourage them to contact you if they have questions. Tell them what to do when they’re ready to take the next step.

If you’ve told them all this before, tell them again. Never stop telling them because you never know when someone might be ready to take that next step.

Is there more to selling legal services? Sure. There are techniques that can make the process easier for you and for the client. And you should learn some of those techniques.

But the most important part of selling your legal services is continually telling people how you can help them and that you’re only a click or a phone call away.

Learn the basics of attorney marketing

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I love the smell of electrons in the morning

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I can’t remember the last time I printed anything. My work and personal life are now almost completely digital.

And I like it that way.

If you’re like me and your practice is nearly all-digital, there is a time when I encourage you to go retro: When you’re signing up new clients, give them some papers to read, fill out and sign.

There are two reasons.

First, it gives them something to do, which helps to relieve some of the natural tension they experience by being in a lawyer’s office and contemplating their legal situation, not to mention the money they are about to spend to deal with it.

Busying themselves with reading and writing helps distract them from their concerns. There’s something familiar and relaxing about the process of filling out paperwork.

You can do this even if you’re not paperless.

If you or your staff ordinarily do all of the information gathering and paper filling-out for new clients, consider amending that habit somewhat and having your clients do some of it.

The second reason you want the client to fill out at least some of the paperwork is that in doing so, they take a step towards becoming a client. The physical act of filling out paperwork is a subconscious signal that they’re doing so.

Psychologists tell us this makes it more likely that they will act congruently, that is, do whatever else they are asked to do to actually hire you.

Asking them to fill out and sign some paperwork is a form of a “trial close”. It’s like asking during the consultation, “Where would you like us to send copies of your final documents?” If they tell you the address they want to use, they are one step closer to becoming your client.

If you mail prospective clients forms to fill out before their first appointment (or put them on your website), you’re using the same strategy.

Ask prospective clients to do things that are consistent with them hiring you and you’ll get more people hiring you.

Use your website to pre-sell prospective clients. Here’s how

 

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Four keys to selling more legal services

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Yep, I used the “S” word–selling. Because lawyers sell legal services and if you want to sell more of yours, the first thing you need to do is get comfortable with the idea that you are in sales.

Because you are.

You find or attract prospective clients. You qualify them as to interest and ability to pay. You show them what you can do for them and why they should choose you. You handle their questions and objections. And you close them. And if you didn’t do these things, you wouldn’t have any clients.

So, once you catch your breath about this whole sales thing, do yourself a favor and learn to get good at it. You can start with these four keys to selling more of your services.

(1) Sell yourself before you sell your services

Since you sell professional services, you are your product. Clients buy “you” before they buy your services. That means getting good at building rapport with prospective clients and helping them get to “know, like, and trust you”.

One way to do that is to listen more than you talk. Ask questions to get them talking about themselves and their problems and desires. That information not only helps you to diagnose their problems and prescribe solutions, it helps the client see that you understand them and care about helping them.

(2) Sell solutions

Once you have diagnosed the client’s situation, show them a positive outcome or result. Don’t focus on your technical skills and resources, focus on showing them the “better future” they will have when you use those skills and resources.

In other words, sell the benefits they get when they hire you.

(3) Appeal to emotions

Sometimes, prospective clients are on the fence about taking care of their problem. They don’t realize how bad things are or how bad they can get. You’ll sign up more clients who are emotionally involved in their problem and your solution.

If they are angry or fearful about their problem, if they are hopeful and excited about eliminating the problem or achieving their objective, they will be one step closer to hiring you.

Make sure your marketing materials speak to their fears and desires. In consultation, ask how their issue is affecting their business or their personal life, or how it might do that if the problem continues.

(4) Prove it

Don’t just tell them what you can do for them, prove it. Share success stories of other clients you have helped. Use testimonials from satisfied clients and endorsements from lawyers and other prominent people that speak to your abilities, your accomplishments, and your character.

Prove your bona fides by highlighting your awards, speaking engagements, books you have written, classes you have taught, and other third-party indicia of a lawyer who is good at what they do.

Don’t just show prospective clients why they need a lawyer, show them why that lawyer should be you.

Selling legal services is easier when you know the formula

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What to do when a client says they can’t afford your fee

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What do you do when a prospective client tells you they can’t afford you? You have three options:

(1) Help them to see the light

Many clients who say they can’t afford you have the money, they just don’t want to spend it. Others can borrow the money, liquidate a retirement account, sell something, or otherwise find the money to pay you and they will do that, but only if they want to.

Point out the greater expense and/or dire consequences that may arise if they don’t hire you, or the immense benefits they will get if they do. Help them to see that hiring you isn’t an expense, it is an investment in their better future.

You can also show them that while you may be more expensive than other lawyers, you’re worth it. You have more experience, offer something others don’t offer, and provide more value and better “customer service” than other lawyers.

Most of this can be done before you speak to them, that is, via articles and posts on your website and in your marketing documents.

(2) Offer to “work with them”

That is, suggest that they hire you for part of the work today and the rest at a later date. You can make things more attractive for them by allowing them to “lock in” the fee they would have paid had they hired you for everything at once. You can also allow them to use a credit card or other financing options.

(3) Let them go

Tell them, in essence, “I’m sorry, let me know when things change for you”. When they want what you offer enough, they’ll find a way to pay for it. Stay in touch with them and remind them that you can still help them.

You can also offer to refer them to another attorney who charges less, which often helps them to decide that no, they really want you.

What you shouldn’t do is cut your fee.

Quoting fees (and getting them) starts with an unshakeable belief in the value of what you do. You can’t possibly expect clients to see this value if you don’t see it yourself.

Remember, there will always be people who can’t afford you and people who can. Target those who can and you won’t have to worry about the ones who can’t.

How to quote fees, invoice properly, and get paid. Go here

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