Ask prospective clients this question before their first appointment

Share

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

Share

It’s time for you to come out

Share

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

Share

I love the smell of electrons in the morning

Share

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

 

Share

Four keys to selling more legal services

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

More conversations equals more clients

Share

Yesterday, I urged you to take steps to weed out non-buyers, price shoppers, and problem clients before you speak with them. Clearly, some will slip through.

That’s okay. You want to talk to them, even if ultimately they don’t hire you, because the more conversations you have with prospective clients, the more clients you’ll get.

True, you’ll talk to people you don’t want to work with. You’ll also talk to people who are harder to land. But math is math.

More conversations equals more clients.

In fact, daily or weekly conversations should be a metric you focus on increasing. Talk to more prospective clients this week than last week and your practice will grow.

You want to talk to people so you can ask questions, diagnose their problem, and propose a solution.

You want to find out their pain so you can show them how you can alleviate it.

You want to build rapport and show them that you care about helping them.

And you want to help them to focus on making the decision to hire you (or come in to see you) if that’s what’s best for them, or if they’re not ready to do that, to feel good about you and remember you when they are ready.

Some of this can be done via email and filling out forms. But nothing beats a conversation.

I’m guessing you’re pretty good at having these conversations, that is, you have a high sign-up ratio. If not, you’ve got some work to do to get better at weeding out prospects who aren’t a good fit for you or closing the ones who are.

If you already sign up a high percentage of the people you talk to, your weekly task is to ask yourself what you can do to have more conversations. Because more conversations equals more clients.

Marketing by the book

Share

If you sell legal services does that make you a sales person?

Share

Yesterday I spoke with a trial lawyer about a business idea he was contemplating. He wanted to know my thoughts about it. During our conversation, I had to chuckle when he said he didn’t know if he would be good at it because he wasn’t a sales person.

“After 20 years of trial work,” I said, “I’m pretty sure there are a few judges and jurors who disagree with that assessment.”

Let’s face it, lawyers sell. We sell our clients’ claims to judges and juries, and to opposing counsel and insurance adjusters. When we negotiate a contract, we’re selling. When we do a presentation, we’re selling the audience on booking an appointment. When we meet with prospective clients, we’re selling them on hiring us.

Lawyers sell. Every day, and twice on Wednesdays. But that doesn’t mean we’re sales people.

We don’t cold call, we don’t go door to door, and we don’t make appointments and sit at someone’s kitchen table (usually). But we do qualify prospective clients, show them how we can help them, overcome their objections, and close. We may not be good at it but we do it.

We sell. Get over it. Make a full confession. Once you do, you can learn how to get better at it.

You do want to get better, don’t you? If you currently close 7 out of 10 prospective clients, wouldn’t you want to close 8?

The mechanics of selling aren’t difficult to learn. And with practice, you can get better. What’s difficult is overcoming your fear, but you can learn how to do that, too.

It starts by admitting to yourself that you sell legal services. Even if you’re not a sales person.

Let your website do most of the (pre-)selling for you. Here’s how

Share

Why you should always assume the sale

Share

Whether you’re talking to a prospective client, speaking to a jury, or negotiating any kind of deal, you should always assume that you will get what you want.

Assume that you’ll win the case or get the best deal. Assume that the prospect will sign up, and not just for your entry level offering but for your “full package”.

Always assume the best possible outcome because assuming the sale will help you close it.

Aren’t you setting yourself (and your client) for disappointment? I didn’t say you should tell the client what you expect. In fact, you should do just the opposite. Do your best to lower their expectations, so that (a) if you get what you want, you will exceed their expectations and made them very happy, and (b) if you don’t get what you want, they won’t think that you blew it.

Okay. But shouldn’t you also lower your expectations? Don’t you need to be realistic?

No.

Assume the sale. Assume great things will happen. Assume you will win. Because when you do, you’ll “act as if,” meaning you’ll act the way you would if you knew you would be successful, and that makes it more likely that you will be.

When you act as if you expect to win, you’ll have more confidence. You’ll say things that would be said by someone who expected to win. Your decisions, timing, and body language will be consistent with closing the deal.

Your believe in a successful outcome will help you create that outcome.

Your confidence will influence the parties with whom you are dealing. Even the most hardened negotiator or judge will perceive the spring in your step and the gleam in your eye, no matter how subtle those cues might be, and they can’t help but be affected by it.

Consider the alternative. Consider what a judge might think if you come into his courtroom with body language that bespeaks a lack of confidence in your argument.

Am I saying you should lie to yourself, tell yourself things are going to work out a certain way, even if the facts and logic tell you otherwise?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Because assuming the sale helps you close it.

Don’t be reckless. You have to have contingency plans in place and be prepared to respond to other outcomes. But once you’ve done that, put on a happy face and go out and conquer the world.

Always assume your clients will give you more referrals. Here’s how to get them

Share

Should you “sell” in every email?

Share

You have an email list. You regularly mail to clients and prospects. Should every email promote (sell) something?

Yes.

You have services that provide solutions to problems. You owe it your subscribers to do everything you can to persuade them to avail themselves of those services. If you don’t, their problems and their pain will continue. They won’t get what they want and need.

So yes, sell your services in every email. But that doesn’t mean every email should be a full-on sales letter.

You can sell your services by educating subscribers about problems and solutions and providing a link where they can get more information. You can sell yourself as the provider of those services by sharing ideas and information that show people how you think and how you do what you do.

Every email should sell, but come at the sale in different ways.

Talk about your clients. Tell stories about where they were before they found you and where they are today. Talk about people who chose other solutions, or waited too long before they came to you, and made their situation worse.

Talk about things you do outside of the office, about your passions and hobbies, and about the important people in your life, to show people what makes you tick and what it would be like to know and work with you.

With some emails, you should overtly talk about the four corners of your services and why people need them. In other emails, just mention your services and provide a link so people can find out more.

Because I email frequently, most of my emails are designed to show subscribers that I know what I’m doing and that I can help them. A little education, a little entertainment, and a link to something in a P.S.

When I release a new product or service, I send out emails that talk about nothing else.

But every email sells something.

You want to get more clients and increase your income, yes? Here’s how to get more referrals 

Share

How to quote your fee and get more clients to say yes

Share

Here’s an interesting tidbit about how to quote your fee.

According to an article on pricing strategies, researchers have found that “prices” that contained more syllables were perceived by consumers as drastically higher than their fewer-syllable counterparts. Their findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology:

When these pricing structures were shown to subjects:

* $1,499.00
* $1,499
* $1499

… the top two prices seemed far higher to consumers than the third price. This effect occurs because of the way one would express the number verbally: “One thousand four hundred and ninety-nine,” for the comma versions versus “fourteen ninety-nine” for the unpunctuated version. This effect even occurs when the number is evaluated internally, or not spoken aloud.

I know that when I hear prices or fees quoted verbally in a commercial or presentation, I listen to how that fee sounds and think about whether there’s a better way to say it. “Two-hundred and ninety-nine dollars” sounds like a lot more than “two ninety nine”.

I do my best to use this in my marketing, but there was this one time when it caused a bit of confusion.

My secretary was on the phone with an attorney who wanted to know the cost for a product we were offering. Per my counsel, she told him “one-ninety-five” based on a price of $195.  Sure enough, a week later, we got a check in the mail in the amount of $1.95.

So be careful. Especially with lawyers.

The least you need to know about fees, billing, and collection

Share