Shark Tank


I confess, I’ve never seen an episode but just read an article recommending it, not just for entertainment but to observe the dynamics of the pitches made by guests seeking investors. In particular, the author noted the brevity of the pitches (90 seconds) and how that is enough to garner investments in the millions. 

A lesson for lawyers, don’t you think? We don’t need, and should probably avoid, lengthy presentations on our clients’ behalf, or on behalf of ourself and our services. Good ideas, well presented, are enough to win hearts and minds and millions. Get attention, highlight the benefits of our offer or position, and ask for the sale (or verdict). 

A good lesson for blog posts and articles as well. 

The author also pointed out how the best pitches tell a story, to emphasize the need for the product or service, show how they work, and dramatize how the benefits thereof can change lives. 

Also good advice for legal beagles. 

Many lawyers bristle at the idea, but it is incontrovertible: lawyers sell. And the better we do that, the better are the lives of our clients, and our own. 


When do prospective clients decide to hire you?


By the time most prospective clients meet you or speak to you, they’ve already decided to hire you. Or not.

They usually know something about you—from your website, your ad or mailing, a review, or a friend who referred them. When they speak to you, their gut tells them yes or no.  

You can give them more information about yourself, about their case and what you can do to help them. But they’ve usually already decided. They use the information you give them to confirm their decision or to see if there’s a reason to override it.

Which means you don’t have to give them a lot of information or go hard trying to persuade them.

If, based on first impressions, they’ve decided they want to hire you, you only need to tell them enough so they can justify their decision. If you give them more, you risk overwhelming or confusing them, giving them more things to think about or question, and talking yourself out of the sale. 

On the other hand, if they initially decided to not hire you, loading them up with information is unlikely to get them to change their mind. 

People don’t like changing their minds.

Give them basic information and not too much of it. If they want more, they’ll ask for more. 

Hey, this is good news. Since the sale is made before you speak to the prospective client, you just have to say enough to not screw it up.


Talk less


All of the marketing and advertising you do is merely a prequel to having a conversation with a prospective client. 

During that conversation, they want to know what you think about their situation or question; they want to know if you can help them; and they want to know what it will take for you to do that. 

So, you ask questions. And listen. 

You listen so you can diagnose their problem or need and tell them how you can help them and what it will cost. If they like what you say, they begin to trust you and move closer to taking the next step. 

But they might not be ready. They might have more questions. 

Questions are good. It means they’re interested. 

But the key to reaching agreement isn’t for you to do all the talking. They key is to get them to do most of the talking. 

Which means asking them more questions. 

You want them to tell you more about their situation, what they want and what they fear. As you validate what they say, through your words and body language (and additional questions), they see that not only are you knowledgeable about their situation and capable of helping them, you want to.

But don’t let them wander. You must control the conversation by narrowing the scope of their questions and keeping them focused on the solutions they need and want. Answer their question and ask your own:

Does that make sense? Is that what you want? Would (this) be better for you or would (that)?

When you see that they might be ready to take that next step, ask a “closing” question. If you’ve answered their questions and told them what you can do to help them, your closing question might be as simple as, “Are you ready to get started?” 

Talk less. Listen more. They’ll tell you what they want—and what you need to say to get them to say “yes”.


Bad breath  


If a prospective client doesn’t connect with your presentation or sales material, if they don’t relate to your “style” or approach, if they don’t like what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, it will be difficult for you to convince them to take the next step. 

Which is why you need to do whatever you can to speak to your prospects in a way they understand and accept.

To do that, you need to know as much about them as possible. 

Before the presentation or conversation, do your homework. Research their industry or business, have them fill out a form on your website or in your waiting room, and ask lots of questions to learn about their background and experience, what’s important to them, and what isn’t. 

You want to know how they found you, who referred them, how they know them, and what they told them about you.

You want to know the search terms they used to find you, what they read or listened to on your website or elsewhere, and what convinced them to make an appointment.  

Watch their body language. Are they nodding, taking notes, watching and listening, or fidgeting in their seat and looking at the door? 

Get them talking. Ask questions, see if they understand and accept what you’re saying. 

Everyone has a different “buying” style. Some want you to lead with the big picture—the benefits, risks, the timetable, and cost. The details can come later. 

Others want to know everything now. 

Some want to get to know you before they listen to what you offer. They want to see that you understand them (not just their legal matter) and care about helping them, not just the work.

Some want just the facts. Some want to hear about other people you’ve helped. Some want to know what you do, some want to know how you do it.

Some want you to guide them in making a decision. Some want to have a conversation.  

If you have a standard presentation and talk to every prospect the same way, you’ll get some who like your message and hire you on the spot, and some who don’t like you and tell you they have to think about it (but don’t).

Figure out what’s best for each prospective client—and give it to them. 


You can’t sell your services without answering three 3 questions


Prospective clients (and the people who refer them) won’t hire (or recommend) you unless you answer some fundamental questions about yourself and what you offer. 

(1) Why should I give you any of my time?  

I’m busy, I have problems and a life or business. Why should I download your report, watch your video, visit your website, or sign up for your webinar? Why should I listen to you or talk to you?

What will I learn? How will I be better off?

(2) Why should I hire you (now)? 

What can an attorney do for me I can’t do myself? 

What problems do you solve? What risks will you help me reduce? Why should I hire you now instead of waiting?

Will you save me money? Time? What other benefits will you help me get?

There are lots of attorneys who would like my business—why should I choose you? What do you do other attorneys don’t do? What do you do better or faster? 

(3) Why should I trust you?

I don’t know you. I’ve been burned by attorneys in the past. Can you prove what you’re telling me? 

What are your capabilities and experience? What resources do you have? What is your track record?

Do you have testimonials, reviews, endorsements, or awards attesting to your abilities and “service”? 

When you address these questions in advance, you clarify need, increase trust, reduce objections, and get more prospective clients to hire you or take the next step.

Think of these questions as the agenda for all of your marketing and you won’t go wrong.


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