Before I share with you the little-known (by lawyers anyway) secret to attracting more clients predictably and automatically, without selling to them, let’s go through what the average lawyer does to find a new client.
How the average lawyer finds a client
First, the client must have a way to find the lawyer. The lawyer may have a webpage, or have given their card out to this client when they saw them in public. Lots of lawyers I know hand out business cards to anyone and everyone they know – there is absolutely nothing wrong with this strategy. It is a great way to get your name out there to a lot of people, which is what you want.
Where the average lawyer goes wrong is in the next step. The client calls the lawyer’s office, unscheduled. The lawyer stops everything they are doing and takes this call (and any other call that comes in – they don’t want to miss a call from a prospect). They then proceed to talk to this client for 10, 15, 20 minutes, perhaps longer. They go through the facts of the case, maybe even dispense legal advice (a big no-no, by-the-way, for ethical and professional reasons, not marketing ones). At the end of the call, they ask the client to come in for a consultation, which the client typically declines. They got what they needed, after all, which was free legal advice.
But lets say that the lawyer did get the client to schedule an appointment. Sometimes this client will show, sometimes they schedule the appointment to be nice on the phone and then don’t show up. Let’s assume they showed up. The average lawyer does not follow a script for the consult, and most offer the consultation for free. The meeting quickly becomes less about solving the client’s legal problem and more about the lawyer talking up the benefits of hiring the lawyer. Inevitably, the lawyer quotes a fee and the client walks out the door. There is no additional follow-up after the meeting. Sometimes, however, the lawyer quotes a fee that is lower than required for the level of work on the case and gets the client to retain them. These are typically C and D level clients.
What sets successful lawyers apart
The difference between an average lawyer and the truly successful lawyers comes in two words: systems and funnels. Huh? Every successful lawyer uses systems to attract and retain new clients, and these systems involve the use of a “sales funnel”.
Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant.
In other words, you must develop a system for attracting and retaining new clients. A system allows you to achieve predictable and reliable results, consistently.
What does a sales funnel for a successful law firm look like?
To start with, the sales process for a successful lawyer is much longer than the sales process for your average lawyer. As described above, the average lawyer relies on someone deciding they need a lawyer, calling several lawyers that they find online, and then coming in for a meeting to retain that lawyer. This could all happen in a matter of hours.
The successful lawyer recognizes that the best clients do not make snap decisions, especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer. They will take their time with the buying decision, and do their homework on the lawyer they want to hire. When they finally come in for that initial meeting (which they glad pay for), they have already made up their mind that they will be hiring you.
8 Steps in the Successful Lawyers Sales Funnel
- Informative Website. They have an informative and helpful website that the client can use to answer a lot of their basic questions. This website typically includes an “opt-in” form, so that the prospect can exchange their email address for additional information from the lawyer. (I recommend you write a book, but that is a topic for another day).
- Automated Follow-up. Once the prospect receives additional information from the lawyer (which happens automatically), the lawyer will follow-up periodically with additional, helpful information that is useful to the prospect. The lawyer may add them to their mailing list to receive an electronic or print newsletter. The prospect remains on this list until they either ask to be removed, or call to schedule a consultation.
- Receptionist takes the call. When the prospect calls, they talk to the lawyers receptionist, not the lawyer. If you are a solo and just starting out, I highly recommend Ruby Receptionists to handle your incoming calls. They are fantastic, and if you use the link above, you will receive free set-up and a two-week free trial. I’ve used them for several years now.
- Phone Scripts. When you or your receptionist finally talk to the client, you will get basic information from them to determine whether you can help them. Chris Mullins has an excellent book called “Monkey Business For Today’s Phone Weary Office Hear/Speak/See No Evil and Take Friday Off“. Included in this book is a phone script that you can adapt to your law office for every new prospect that calls.
- Pre-meeting correspondence. After the prospect schedules a meeting, they are automatically sent an email with information about the meeting, including a questionnaire for them to complete ahead of time, and directions to the lawyer’s office.
- Warm greeting to the office. Every client that comes into your office is treated the same way – they are greeted promptly by your receptionist. They are offered something to drink, and shown to the conference room where they will meet with you.
- Scripted consult. The successful lawyer has scripted out, for the most part, the initial consultation. How you handle this is up to you, but I recommend that at some point you mention to the client that: 1) lawyers are not inexpensive, 2) you do not know yet whether you can accept the prospect as a client, and 3) at the conclusion of the meeting, if you would be willing to take on the prospect as a client, you will quote them a fee. There are psychological and practical reasons for these comments.
- Post-meeting follow-up. At the end of the meeting, the prospect will hire you or they won’t. Either way, they will receive follow-up from you. If client’s do not hire you, you may want to follow-up by sending them helpful information or having your paralegal call them once a week for 2-3 weeks to check in on them and see if there is anything else they need. If they do hire you, then they will receive additional information and materials from your firm, in addition to follow-up calls once a week, month, etc.
Questions? Comments? An opinion one way or the other? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know about your sales funnel to weed-out and select new clients.