More conversations equals more clients

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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

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

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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

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Why you should always assume the sale

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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

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Should you “sell” in every email?

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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 

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

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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

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Tell clients why you’re worth more than other lawyers

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You’re not the cheapest lawyer in town. That’s good. You don’t want clients who want the cheapest lawyer in town, you want clients who understand that they get what they pay for and who are willing to pay more to get more.

Have you explained this to your clients and prospects? If not, you should.

On your website, in your marketing materials, when you are speaking to a prospective client, tell them that you’re not lowest guy or gal in town. Tell them you cost more than other lawyers and then tell them why you are worth it.

First, tell them why low-cost legal fees aren’t always what they seem. Tell them that some lawyers hold down costs by

  • Using lower paid staff to do much of the work, increasing the chances of errors or poor results
  • Advertising only part of the work the client will need, when they often need more
  • Billing separately for costs and other things that drive up the overall cost
  • Cutting corners in terms of customer service

Of course you’ll also mention that most lawyer who charge lower fees do so because they have less experience.

Then tell them why you are the better choice:

  • You have more experience (years practicing, number of clients, prestige clients)
  • Your staff has been with you for X years and are smart, efficient, and your clients love them
  • You get better results (verdicts, settlements, notable wins, endorsements, testimonials, awards)
  • You are top dog (you teach CLE, Judge Pro Tem, arbitrator, mediator, articles by you, articles about you, books you’ve written, speaking)
  • You specialize (so you are better at what you do, and more efficient)
  • You specialize in your client types (so you know their business, their issues, their problems, etc.)
  • You offer something others don’t (your unique selling proposition)
  • You offer flat fees or other alternatives to hourly billing, so your clients know in advance what they will pay

Also tell them what you do to keep your expenses down: you aren’t on Rodeo Drive, you don’t advertise, you have systems in place that allow you to do your work more quickly and efficiently, and so on.

If you want clients who willingly pay higher fees, tell clients why you’re worth more than other lawyers.

How to write a bill clients WANT to pay

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How to get more clients with “The Puppy Dog Close”

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The Puppy Dog Close is a well-known concept in marketing and sales. Here’s the skinny:

You go into a pet store, just to look. The salesman sees you playing with the puppies in the window. You’re almost there, but the salesman can tell you’re not sure. So he says, “Why don’t you take one of these little fellas home for the weekend. No charge. If it doesn’t work out, bring him back on Monday.”

You bring the puppy home, give him a name and fall in love. There’s no way you’re bringing him back.

The salesman didn’t have to close you, you closed yourself.

You may recognize this approach when you go looking at new cars. The test drive is a form of The Puppy Dog Close.

Okay, so you don’t sell puppies or cars. How can you use this approach in your practice?

The odds are, you already do.

Think about it. Aren’t you giving people a “free sample” of your wisdom when you do a seminar or other presentation? When you write articles or blog posts or give away reports or videos, aren’t you showing people how you think and giving them a sense of what it might be like to work with you?

You also do it when you network. As people get to know you, they begin to like and trust you, and that leads to hiring you or sending you referrals.

If you offer free consultations, prospective clients get a chance to try you out and fall in love with you, or at least the benefits you offer. You help them gain clarity about their problems and the available solutions. You help them see a way out and a way forward and they like you for it. It’s hard for them to walk away from that.

You might want to take this up a notch. In addition to offering free consultations, you might offer a free entry-level service. Prepare a free simple Will, for example, as a gateway to doing a trust or other estate planning services. Give prospective divorce clients the first hour free, so they can see how much value you deliver.

Once a prospective client tries you for an hour, they’re probably not going to take you back to the lawyer store.

Crazy talk? I don’t know. How about giving this idea a try before you say it’s not for you. You might fall in love with this puppy.

To learn more about promoting trial, get The Formula

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Another example of email done wrong

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I got an email yesterday that said “Hey David, I just came across your LinkedIn profile and decided to reach out.”

Alrighty, but he didn’t send the email to the email address I have with LinkedIn. Lying in the first sentence? I don’t know, but we’re not off to a good start.

Oh, and addressing me by first name instead of waiting for permission? Manners, please.

He introduced himself: “I’m with [company]–we connect entrepreneurs like you with the marketing talent that can grow your business.”

A sales pitch already? That didn’t take long. And, did he even read my profile or go to my website? If he had, he might have noticed that I’m in the marketing game myself.

Onward.

“I hope you don’t mind the cold outreach, but I thought you’d be interested and decided to go for it. Here is the link” and he provided a link to his website.

Interested in what? He didn’t say. He didn’t give me a reason to click the link.

I wouldn’t necessarily mind a cold email, but not done this way. How about earning my trust, first? How about giving me a reason to pay attention? How about a little finesse?

He closed the email and “signed” it with his first name as the CTO of his company. Again, he thinks we’re on a first name basis. And, you want me to trust you but you haven’t told me your full name.

Sup wit dat?

More bad vibes: There’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email, which means he went ahead and subscribed me to his list without my permission. A one-time cold email is something I can live with. A subscription without permission and you’re going straight to Internet jail (spam).

Look, it’s okay to send email to people you don’t know. But don’t lie to them or pitch them right out of the box. Say something that lets them know you are a real person who wants to introduce themselves and that you are someone who might be worth knowing.

The recipient knows you’ve got an agenda of some sort. Everyone does. Put it in your back pocket for now and take the time to turn a cold name and email into a warm prospect.

As a lawyer, you might think that you would never send a cold email to someone you don’t know, particularly someone you would like to have as a client. I wouldn’t contact consumers unless I had been invited to do so, but you can contact professionals you’d like to know. You could also contact potential business clients, if you do it right.

Start by showing them you know something about them and what they do and that you’re not sending spam to the masses. Compliment them on something you like, tell them how you are similar in your interests or your work, or ask them a question.

Your motto: “friends first”.

Then, offer something they might find valuable and relevant. A blog post, video, report, or something else that’s free and easy to access. Don’t make them go to your website to see if you have anything interesting, tell me what it is, how it would benefit them, and where to get it.

But maybe you should save that for your next email.

For more on email marketing, get Make the Phone Ring

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Are you too good at your job?

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Your clients want you to solve their problems. The quicker you can do that, the better, right?

Maybe not.

If you’re too good at your work, if you finish too quickly and display an apparent lack of effort, your clients may not appreciate your superior ability and may object to the amount you charge.

Psychologist Dan Ariely tells a story about a locksmith who told him that as he got better at his job, his customers didn’t value what he was able to do.

“He was tipped better when he was an apprentice and it took him longer to pick a lock,” he said. “Now that it takes him only a moment, his customers complain that he is overcharging and they don’t tip him.”

“What this reveals is that consumers don’t value goods and services solely by their utility, benefit from the service, but also a sense of fairness relating to how much effort was exerted,” Ariely explains.

So what should you do if you’re too good at your job?

Perform some magic. A little slight of hand.

Don’t let clients know that you did the work without breaking a sweat. If you can prepare a document in 30 minutes, because you have the forms and because you’ve done it 100 times before, consider holding onto it for a few days before sending it to the client. Let them think that you worked and re-worked the document to get it just right.

Caveat number one: Don’t lie. It’s okay if they think you took three days to do it, but don’t tell them you did. Also, if you bill by the hour, obviously you shouldn’t bill for more time than you actually took. (Yet another argument in favor of jettisoning the billable hour.)

Caveat number two: Don’t overdo it. Many clients do see a benefit to your ability to get the work done quickly. In fact, quick turnaround might be a marketing point of differentiation for you. So don’t drag things out.

The best course of action is to manage your clients’ expectations. Under-promise so you can over-deliver. If you can do it in 30 minutes, promise to deliver it in a week. Then, deliver it in three or four days.

Marketing legal services is easier when you have a plan

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Everyone is an entrepreneur. Including you.

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re employed or self-employed, you are an entrepreneur.

Deal with it.

You are an entrepreneur because every day, you take risks with your career. You may get fired today. Your partnership may break up. Your biggest client may leave you.

You are in sales, too. You sell your services (and yourself) to an employer or to individual clients. Every day, you sell or re-sell yourself on getting and staying hired.

But every day you also have the opportunity for gain. You may get a raise. You may get a big case. You may start to embrace marketing and double your income.

Risk and reward. The yin and yang of the entrepreneur. The only question is, how much risk are you willing to take?

You do know that a job doesn’t mean safety or security? In fact, it means just the opposite. You don’t control your fate. Others do. Just ask people who lost their job two years ago and are still unemployed.

Starting your own practice or business isn’t risk free, of course, but if you fail, you will at least have a skill set that allows you to start over.

In fact, the very act of failing makes you more likely to succeed the next time. The greatest risks are often borne by those who have never failed.

Venture capitalist Ben Narasin says that he sometimes funds startups run by people who have never failed at anything. He says,

Sometimes these prove to be the founders most likely to fail. They’re likely to fail exactly because they are afraid of doing so. They’re so used to winning, so used to the orderly, structured, achievable goals… conquerable by brain power and effort alone, that they are ill-prepared for the entirely messy reality of entrepreneurship.

Being an entrepreneur is messy. You might fail. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Building a law practice is easier when you know The Formula

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