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


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


Do you get nervous when quoting fees?


You’ve met with the prospective client, diagnosed their situation, and told them what you can do to help. You’ve got your retainer agreement ready and it’s time to quote a fee.

How do you feel at that very moment?

If you’re like many attorneys, you’re nervous. You’re afraid they will say no or try to haggle. They’ll balk at signing up and you won’t know what to do next.

Maybe they sign up, maybe they don’t, but the next time you quote a fee, you’ll remember that feeling and your apprehension will grow.

It doesn’t get better over time, it gets worse. It gets worse because deep inside you may believe that your fees really are too high and you telegraph that to the client.

What’s the solution?

Reduce your fees. Lower them until that uneasy feeling goes away and you feel that you are offering them a great deal.

Hey, if YOU believe your fees are too high, they’re too high.

Think about it. If you truly believe that what you are proposing to do for the client is worth more than what you’re asking them to pay, if you truly believe that you deliver immense value and the client would foolish to turn you down, you would have no trouble looking the client in the eye and telling them that. No nerves, no doubts, no hesitation.

Okay, okay, you want to know if there is another solution.

Sure. Instead of lowering your fees, increase the value of your services.

Look at what other lawyers do and do more. Provide better service, bonuses, guarantees, payments options, and other tangible and intangible deliverables that make the totality of what you do worth more to the client.

When quoting fees, you’ll be able to tell the client the advantages of hiring you. You’re worth more so you can charge more.

What’s that? You believe your fees are fair? You’re nervous because you think the client won’t understand.

Ah, but they will understand. You just have to do a better job of selling your services.

Don’t just show them the “features” of what they get–the documents, the process, the work product–show them the “benefits”. Show them how they will be better off as a result of hiring you. Show them how they will save money, increase their profits, protect their business or family, minimize risk, or achieve peace of mind.

Features are what you do. Benefits are what they get as a result of your doing it.

Don’t hold back. Tell them what could happen if they don’t fix the problem. Give them both barrels, right between the eyes.

Tell stories about other people who tried to fix that problem themselves, hired the wrong attorney, or waited too long, and suffered the consequences. And then tell them success stories of clients you’ve helped get the benefits you offer.

Give them a vivid picture of how things could be if they hire you, and how they might be if they don’t.

Sales is about the transference of belief. If you believe in the value of what you do, and you transfer that belief to your prospective clients, you’ll sign up more of them and never get nervous quoting fees.

For more about using features and benefits to sell your services, get The Formula


Why you should stop selling your legal services


If you’re selling your legal services, you’ve got to stop. Nobody wants to buy them. Nobody wants your work product.

What they want are the benefits your services provide. Money, freedom, safety, peace of mind. That’s what clients want and pay for.

So when you talk to prospective clients about your services, they really don’t care that much. Those are just details. Your services are merely the tools you use to create and deliver benefits.

I’m not saying that your services, skills, and experience are unimportant. Not at all. But to the client, nothing is more important than what you can do to improve their life.

We sell hope. We sell the promise of a better future.

When a client is in trouble, when they are scared or confused, when they want something but don’t know how they can possibly get it, you need to give them hope.

It’s the most precious thing you sell.

How to sell the benefits your services provide: The Attorney Marketing Formula


Selling legal services doesn’t make you a sales person


I was at a seminar on Saturday and one of the speakers briefly outlined a six-step process for selling anything. Of course that includes selling legal services.

The process is the same whether you’re sitting down with a client and selling him on giving you a check, networking with corporate bigwigs and selling them on discussing their legal needs, and everything in between. To some extent, the process is the same when you are selling legal services from the stage or in print.

Here are the six steps with my comments in parentheses:


  • Make a personal commitment to the process. (If you look down on selling as beneath you, if you dismiss it and say, “that’s not why I went to law school,” you’re missing the point. Lawyers sell legal services. That doesn’t mean we are sales people.)
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time oriented. (What do you want to accomplish? When? How will you know if you did or did not achieve your goal?)
  • Define “why”: what’s the big picture for you that makes the effort worthwhile. (When you’re not getting the results you want, you need to remember why you opened your own office.)


  • Adjust your attitude. (Selling is helping people get what they want by removing obstacles. Be proud of what you’re doing.)
  • Work on your skills. (Read, practice, learn from your mistakes.)
  • Add to your knowledge. (Learn about sales, human psychology, and your client’s industry or interests.)


  • Appearance. (Make sure everything you do is done professionally.)
  • Approach. (Don’t always leave it up to them. When appropriate, take the initiate. Make the call.)
  • Rapport. (Build trust before you show them what you can do.)


  • Observe. (What are their problems? What do they want to achieve?)
  • Ask. (Learn more by asking open ended questions. Find out what they want, what they have tried before, what you need to say or do to persuade them that you are the best choice.)
  • Listen. (20% asking, 80% listening.)


  • Timing. (Not too soon, not too late. Look for signs they are ready. If you’re not sure, ask for permission.)
  • Solutions. (We get paid to solve problems and achieve results. Show them what’s possible. Tell them how you have helped others in similar situations.)
  • Use their language. (Mirror their style, pace, and lexicon. Refer to your notes and reflect back to them what they told you they wanted and needed.)


  • Ask for the sale. (Tell them what to do to get the benefits they want.)
  • Overcome objections. (“I need to think about it” is never the real objection. Find out the real reason(s) and show them why the benefits you deliver trump those reasons.)
  • Support. (If they sign up, plug them into your support system so they feel easy about what will happen and what to do if they have questions. If they don’t sign up, plug them into your follow-up system.)
  • Referrals. (Always ask for referrals, even if they’re not ready to get started.)

Selling legal services is a skill and it can be learned. The better you get, the more people you can help. Last I heard, that’s at least one of the reasons’ you went to law school.

Marketing is everything we do to get and keep clients. Start here.


Selling legal services like Apple sells iPhones


I went to the Apple store this weekend. As you can imagine, it was packed, buzzing with people who were playing with iPads and Airs and Macs. They were asking about the new iPhone 5. And they were buying.

After the Apple store, I went to a Windows store on the same floor of the mall. Like the Apple store, it was spacious and nicely laid out. There were lots of toys to play with and friendly employees to answer your questions. But unlike the Apple store, there were very few customers. The store was almost empty.

Why the difference?

Nobody needs an Apple product. Everything you need in a computer or tablet or phone you can get from another company, usually for less. So why is Apple poised to become the first trillion dollar company in history?


Apple knows that people buy what they want, not what they need, and so Apple doesn’t spend time talking about how their products are better or that over time, you’ll save money buying a Mac versus a PC. They don’t say Apple is safer or has a shorter learning curve or make a fuss about the quality of their customer service. They know these things are important and they don’t ignore them, but they also know that these aren’t why people buy Apple.

People buy Apple because it’s cool.

But legal services aren’t cool. Nobody stands in line at the door of a law office. This is why Apple is about to become the first trillion dollar company and your firm isn’t.

But you can learn something from Apple and apply it to your marketing.

Apple doesn’t try to convince people they need a computer, a smart phone or tablet. They target people who are already looking for a computer, a smart phone, or tablet. They appeal to people who want the “best” (coolest) and are willing to pay for it.

You should do the same.

Focus on people who know they need a lawyer and are trying to choose the right one. Focus on clients who want the “best” and are willing to pay for it.

Yes, you can also educate your market as to why they need the type of legal services you offer, but spend most of your time and energy on the low hanging fruit: the ones who know they need help and are ready to get it.

Then, show them why they should choose you. Give them all of the reasons. Show them why you are the Apple of legal services. They may not stand in line outside your office but they will want what you offer and pay top dollar to get it.

Want to know how to get clients to choose you? Read The Attorney Marketing Formula and find out.