Managing expectations


Years ago, each January, my wife and I attended an “expectation” party which took place at a friend’s home. Everyone found a seat and wrote a letter to their future self, to be read the following year. Instead of writing our goals, we wrote our expectations for the upcoming year, supposedly because expectations are more realistic than goals. They’re based on what we’ve been doing and thus, what we expect to happen—not just what we want.

The next January, we would gather again and read our letters, out loud if we wanted but usually to ourself. And then, write our expectations for the next year. 

Unfortunately, most years I usually didn’t achieve what I expected. Probably because I wrote what I wanted, not what I expected. You want big things to happen in your life. So naturally you set lofty goals (expectations), even if they are unrealistic.

Think big, we’re told. Aim for the sun, the moon, and the stars. If you fall short, you’ll accomplish more than you would if you hadn’t thought big. 

But that’s not the best advice because we usually set goals that are too high (and long term) and continually fail to reach them. We fall short and thus condition ourself to expect to be disappointed. And unhappy. And too often, that’s what happens.

Charlie Munger, said, “If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re going to be miserable all your life.” 

Better than setting big goals and continually failing to meet them is setting small goals and continually reaching them. When we do, we condition ourself to expect to succeed, which is a much better place to be.

If you expect to bring in 5 new clients each month but only bring in 2, you’re disappointed and frustrated. If that happens enough, you start to believe you can’t get more. 

Instead, lower your expectations. Stop trying to accomplish more than what’s realistic and failing. Choose a goal you are reasonably certain you can reach and succeed.

You’ll feel better about yourself and what you can do. You’ll be successful and feel successful, and that’s what will allow you to accomplish more.

Setting and reaching goals, albeit lower goals than you really want, is a recipe for success because you gain confidence in yourself and what you can do. From that platform, you can set incrementally higher goals and realistically expect to reach them.

Taking a gigantic leap sounds good, but you are more likely to get to the top by taking one step at a time.


A powerful tool for your marketing toolkit


Have you ever been interviewed by a writer or blogger or podcaster? If so, are you using that interview as a marketing tool? 

You can post it on your website, use it as a handout or lead magnet, or turn it into a paid eBook that sends you leads. Interviews allow you to describe what you do and answer the types of questions people who are looking for a lawyer usually ask. 

And, in the minds of the people who read the interview, just the fact that you were interviewed says a lot about you. 

Interviews position you as successful and important—an expert in your field. And people want to read these, especially prospective clients. 

Interviews are a great sales tool, and you should use them in your marketing. 

If you don’t have an interview you can use, you can create one in an hour by asking another lawyer to interview you (and offering to interview them in exchange). 

You write the questions you want them to ask and an introduction. Get on the phone or chat, record everything, transcribe the recording, edit, and you’re done. 

I did this with a successful appellate lawyer and turned it into an eBook which is sold online.

Another way to use an interview is when you meet a new business contact or prospective client who asks what you do. Instead of flapping your gums, ask for their email and send them a copy.

You can also send copies to podcasters, bloggers, and meeting planners, to show them why they should book you on their program. 

So yeah, a simple and powerful tool that every lawyer should have in their marketing toolkit. 


Networking cheat sheet


What do you do when you go to a new networking event? Find some new people to meet? Talk to friends and business associates? Pass out cards? Collect them?

Do you have an agenda?

You don’t need one. There’s only one thing you need to do.

Get there early, meet the organizer(s) of the event and offer to help.

Introduce yourself, or ask someone you know to introduce you, and see what they need (door greeter, sign-in guests and pass out badges, help people find the restroom, etc.) and volunteer for something.

That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

The organizers always need help and will appreciate anything you can do to make their life easier and their event better. Even if they have everything covered, they will appreciate your offer and remember you.

Yes, you want to meet new people, but the best way to do that is to show the organizers some love. They know the key people who are attending—who they are and what they do—and can introduce you to them.

And they will.

Follow-up with the organizer after the event, tell them you enjoyed meeting them, liked the speaker, or the chicken, and you look forward to seeing them at the next event.

And send them some information about yourself, with a photo, so they can put your name to your face.

At the next event, get there early, find the organizer, offer to help, and when the dust has settled, ask them if there’s anyone there you should meet.

That’s how it’s done.


How to use your content to get more referrals


Broadly speaking, there are two types of referrals. Direct referrals occur when a client or business contact gives your name and contact information to one of their clients or contacts, and tells them to contact you about their problem or desire. 

It’s all good. And it can lead to a lot of business for you. 

But you might get even more new clients via indirect referrals: 

  • Your clients agree to pass out your “special report,” checklist, tip sheet, or form to their friends, neighbors, co-workers, or clients
  • A referral source mentions your blog post in his newsletter or on social media 
  • A business client puts a supply of your reports or brochures in their waiting room
  • An accountant sends a copy of your latest article to all of his clients or other accountants
  • A business expert co-authors an article, blog post, or book with you
  • A blogger or lawyer in your target market interviews you for their blog, podcast, or channel
  • Your clients and/or referral sources agree to tell their list about your upcoming seminar
  • A lawyer or other professional you know puts copies of your article in his “new client” kit

Many of your clients will distribute your content because they want to help their friends, and/or because you asked. Many of your professional contacts will do it for the same reasons. 

But with professionals, you have another option. You can ask them to distribute your content in exchange for you agreeing to distribute theirs.

In either case, your job is simple: create (more) content. Make it good enough that people will want to (or agree to) share it.

But don’t forget to ask. 


What does your desktop look like? 


My dad was a successful lawyer. You might not have known that if you were in his office and saw the piles of papers and files on top of his desk, on the credenza behind him, and sometimes on the floor. 

I don’t know how, but he got his work done. The mess wasn’t a problem for him. In fact, I’m pretty sure he liked things the way they were. 

Some people thrive in chaos. Not me. I need to have one thing in front of me at a time or I find it difficult to concentrate. 

In my office, I usually had other files on my desk, but I kept them in a neat stack and worked from the top down. That doesn’t mean my office was tidy. I had my share of clutter and knickknacks. I still do. But there isn’t any Work-in-Progress in my line of sight. Or on the desktop of my laptop which is nearly empty most of the time.

I work off my “today” list which allows me to stay organized and prioritize my tasks. This gives me a sense of control and peace of mind. If I did it any other way, (e.g., my father’s way), it would ruin that sense of control, distract me, and become a source of stress.

Call me crazy, but that’s how I work best. 

If you thrive in chaos, bless you. If you’re like me and would like to have more order and peace of mind in your work, try putting everything out of the way except the one thing you’re working on. (And clean off that damn desktop!. Okay, I must be crazy. I’m getting bothered thinking about YOUR desktop). 

Anyway, give it a try. If you miss the mess, you can always go back to the way things were. Just don’t tell me about it. 


Your fees are too high


What do you say to a client or prospective client who says your fees are too high?

Do you negotiate? Offer to reduce your fees?

Yeah, don’t do that.

Do you tell them that’s what you charge and they can take it or leave it?

Don’t do that, either.

Instead, say something like, “When you say my fees are too high, what are you comparing this to?”

Let them tell you about other lawyers who charge less.

And then show them why you charge more because you are worth more–to them.

Show the client what they get with you they won’t get from other attorneys.

The best way to do that, of course, is to let your other clients do it for you. Show them your positive reviews and testimonials and share success stories about what you’ve done for other clients.

But maybe the client doesn’t have anyone they’re comparing you with, they think all lawyers fees are too high.

In that case, go over their current problem or situation and ask how much this is costing them now, in terms of time and money and mental anguish.

Let them see how they will be better off hiring you than continuing to live with their current situation.

Finally, if they can’t see things your way, say something like this:

“I don’t want to take your money if you don’t think this is going to work for you. I understand you want to solve this problem but I don’t want to work with you if you’re not committed to working with me to solve it”.

C’mon, you know you want to.

Referred clients make the best clients. Here’s how to get more


If you don’t like marketing, do this instead


If you’re the kind of attorney who says, “I didn’t go to law school to be a salesperson,” or who just doesn’t like marketing in any shape or form, I have a suggestion.

No, I’m not going to tell you you can stop doing it, or that you can outsource all of it. I’m going to tell you to change the way you think about it.

I’m guessing you don’t actually hate the idea of writing things or talking to people, or even how much time it takes or how much it costs.

What you don’t like is letting anyone see you do it.

Because they might think you need the work.

Thus, my suggestion.

Don’t use the word “marketing”.

Substitute the word “communicating,” because that’s really all you’re doing.

You communicate with clients and former clients, prospective clients and professional contacts, and other people in your warm market–sharing information and updating them about what’s going on with you.

You don’t have to “push” or promote; just stay in touch.

You also communicate in the “cold market,” via ads, social media posts, articles, interviews, networking, and presentations. You don’t know these people, yet, but you can communicate with them just the same.

Telling them something, offering them additional information, asking them to contact you if they questions.

It’s not marketing (okay, it is), but it’s also communicating, something you’re good at.

So, if the word marketing leaves a bad taste in your mouth, take a bite out of the word communicating.

All you have to do is decide with whom you will you communicate, what you will say, and how you will get your message to them.

I suggest you start with your warm market, and use email. You can learn everything you need to know, here.


Marketing legal services made simple


Marketing is complicated–but it doesn’t need to be.

In fact, all you need to do is answer 2 questions.

These are the questions prospective clients want you to answer. Answer them well and you’ll be on your way to signing up a new client.

The first question won’t surprise you:

“Why do I need an attorney?”

Yes, many prospective clients know the answer to this question, but not everyone.

Some think they need an attorney’s help, but they’re not sure.

Some know they probably need an attorney, but tell themselves all kinds of stories to avoid admitting it, or avoid spending the money.

Some think that given enough time, the problem will resolve itself. Some think they can fix it themselves. And some think that if they do nothing, things won’t turn out as badly as they’ve imagined (or been told).

Your job is to answer this first question–on your website, in your presentations, in your articles, and in your conversations with prospective clients and the people who can refer them.

Tell people why they need an attorney and what can happen if they don’t hire one.

Now, as important as this is, an even better marketing strategy is to focus your efforts primarily on people who already know they need an attorney.

They know they have a problem, they know they can’t fix it themselves, and they know that bad things will happen if they don’t have an attorney by their side.

Target people who are in pain, who fear what is happening, or about to, and are actively looking for an attorney.

They make much better prospects, and clients.

Which leads to question number two:

“Why should I choose you?”

People know there are other attorneys who can help them. Your job is to convince them to hire you instead of your competition.

Show them why you are better. Show them how you are different. Show them why they should immediately stop looking and book an appointment with you.

Because when you’re the best, you’re in demand. There’s a long line or people at your door, ready to sign up, but you’re busy and not everyone will get in.

Lots of people want you, but not everyone will get you.

That’s why they should choose you. And that’s why they will.

If you need help answering question number two, start here:


The easiest way to build your list


You’ve got a list of prospective clients, right? Email addresses, newsletter subscribers, social media followers, maybe even a snail mail list.

You want to grow your list, right? Get more people reading your words, seeing your offers, responding to your calls to action.

Because the bigger the list, the bigger your client list will eventually become.

Yes or yes?

But the size of your list is only one factor. You can do more with a small list of the right people, who come to you the right way, than you could with a massive list of the wrong people.

Size matters, but not as much as you think.

Anyway, there are many ways to build your list and while some are better than others, there is one method you should always use.

Because it is not only the easiest way to build your list, it is more likely to bring you more new clients than many other methods.

It’s also free and you can start doing it immediately.

What is this magic elixir of which I speak?

It is to use your existing list to tell people about how you can help them.

Tell people they know about your services, your website, your free report, your offer, your event, your course, your newsletter, or anything else of value that might interest the people they know.

How do you get people to do that?

Ask them: “Please share that link with people who might like/want/need. . .”

Yes, there are other ways to get people to share, but asking them to do it is easy and works well.

If you’re not ready to do that, do this:

Continue to produce good content and trust your list to share it organically–because it is good content and they want people to see it.

“That’s a good idea, David. I know a few lawyers who need to see this. . .”

Yeah, like that.

People will forward your email or share your link, because they know people who would benefit from seeing it.

Anyway, enough said. Go forth and multiply your list.

If you want more ways to do that, check out my email marketing course.


How to handle objections


What’s the best way to handle objections? The best way is to eliminate them before they occur.

That means providing enough information to prospective clients, on your website, in your presentations, and in your client meetings, so that all of their issues and concerns are addressed and there is nothing left to object to.

Give them the facts. Share the stories. Provide FAQ’s that deal with all the objections you commonly hear.

If money is a common objection, make sure you build the value of what they get. Show them how not hiring you would be more costly and explain the payment options you have available.

Deal with this issue in advance and you will get far fewer objections.

You won’t completely eliminate objections, however. What then?

It depends.

Sometimes, the best way to handle an objection is to repeat it back to the prospective client.

People often say things they don’t really mean or haven’t thought through. When they hear their own words repeated back to them, it causes them to re-evaluate their position. As they respond, they often answer their own objection.

Your conversation might go like this:

CLIENT: “I want to think about it”
YOU: “You want to think about it?”
CLIENT: “Yeah, I need a day or two”
YOU: “A day or two?”
CLIENT: “Well, maybe not that long. I need to see if this is something I want to do.”
YOU: “Something you want to do?”
CLIENT: “Well, I know I need to do this but it’s kinda expensive [the true objection reveals itself]. . .”
YOU: “Expensive?”
CLIENT: “Yeah, it’s a lot of money to me. But like I say, I know I need to do this and I guess I can put it on a credit card, so let’s get this going. . .”.

Sometimes, the best way to an handle an objection is to respond to it directly.

When the client tells you they want to think about it and you know the real objection is probably something else, like money, you might say, “I understand completely. It is a big decision and it is a lot of money. But you have to consider what might happen if you ignore this problem. As we discussed. . .” and go over the issues and possible outcomes again.

If you’re not sure what the real objection is, ask them. “What exactly do you want to think about? Is it the need? Is it the fee?”

Handling objections this way is sometimes referred to as “Feel, Felt, Found.” It is a way to validate the client’s position before you respond to and overcome their objection.

So, if they object to the fee, you might say, “I understand how you FEEL. A lot of my clients tell me they FELT the same way when they were in your position. But once we got started, they told me they FOUND that it was money well spent and they were glad they got this taken care of.”

Sometimes, the best way to handle objections is to ignore them.

You’ve handed the client a retainer agreement and pen and he tells says he wants to think about it.

Instead of saying, “Sure, just let me know,” and having him walk out, you say, “I can get started this afternoon and have everything done for you by next Tuesday. You will finally be able to move forward with your life. Today is the 15th; make sure you write the date here” and point to the blank for the date.

You’ll find that clients typically have the same four or five objections, not hundreds. Think about the last few prospective clients who didn’t retain you. What did they say? How did you respond? How might you have handled it differently?

Come up with two or three ways to handle each common objection and the next time they arise, you’ll be ready.

Want to make the phone ring? Here’s my step-by-step system.