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5 tips for taking full advantage of your firm’s most valuable marketing asset.

Let’s walk through a common scenario. Your comprehensive marketing program is not cheap. You are essentially investing today’s profits with the goal of generating a measurable business increase and solid return on investment. The program is delivering the right initial results, with increased website traffic and phone calls, but client count is flat. What’s going on?

Effective marketing doesn’t end with the phone call

Many firms do a great job of communicating to prospective clients (prospects) through marketing messages, but drop the ball when the phone rings. These prospects are your firm’s most valuable marketing asset. Everything you and your staff do from the initial phone response up to the contract signature registers with the prospect and determines whether you get the business.

What your prospective client is thinking

While some prospects call asking for a specific attorney, most are following a more general research process. They could be checking out several attorneys referred by friends and peers, or just searching the internet for options. This research will continue until the prospect becomes a client. You need to break the cycle to get the client.

Here are 5 ways to turn more prospects into clients:

  1. Answer the phone or email. Show that you are proactive, responsive, and ready to help by answering the phone within 3 rings or forms within 15 minutes. Never place a caller on hold for more than 20 seconds without providing a status update. If you don’t have the resources to support a dedicated receptionist, consider an answering service, or segregate marketing calls so someone can jump whenever the Bat Phone rings. Carefully screen answering service providers. Some are much better than others.
  2. Take charge. Most prospects are looking for a solution. They expect you to quickly guide them down a clear path to that solution, and you want to meet with qualified prospects as quickly as possible. While you may need to get answers to certain questions, keep it brief and simple. Try not to provide too many open-ended options – like choice of lawyer, course of action, or meeting date – that will require additional thought. Assume that the prospects want you to make those recommendations. Get the meeting.
  3. Get leads to lawyers. If a lawyer is not available, at least have someone ask the right questions to determine the validity of the case and schedule an appointment. Consider creating an intake form or client questionnaire for your staff to go over with the prospect. If you have to call back or send the prospect to voice mail, that person will keep calling until he/she reaches some other attorney – not you.
  4. Quickly schedule meetings and consultations. Think about the prospect’s schedule, not yours. If the prospect has an urgent need and you can’t meet for 3 weeks, assign the prospect to another attorney or have a staff member meet immediately. The questionnaire could be helpful again here. The prospect probably doesn’t care if you are busy, and will keep looking for an available attorney. If you have a lot of meeting no-shows, this may be why.
  5. Follow up. Show that you are proactive and interested by (same day) sending a thank you along with any action items, next steps, and due dates. Create a logical set of steps for your prospect to become a client. Keep up the communication by forwarding a relevant article, following up on an action item, or even just sending another thought about your discussion. Just be careful not to enter into an unintended attorney-client relationship.

Have you ever called your own firm?

With apologies to attorneys who don’t like sales analogies, this is as close to a real sales process as you get. The client will engage someone as their attorney, so improve the chances of that someone being you. If you are a firm principal, try contacting your own firm to see how those calls are handled, or record the calls (as applicable) and listen to the recordings. Is the receptionist terse? Are you placed on hold for 5 minutes? Does anyone ever call you back? I bet you’ll find ways improve your prospect-to-client process.

In Part 2 we’ll discuss how to measure your “sales” success.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.SM


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