We’ve all been there, a prospective client calls our firm or comes in for a meeting and is on the fence. They’re not sure if they’re going to hire you to assist with their matter. How do you convert that prospective lead to a client? In today’s show, I’m going to give you three of the top tips I’ve used over the last 11 years to convert thousands of prospective clients to paying clients for our law firm.
In the 2019 legal marketplace, there is simply more competition and more access to attorneys than consumers have ever had before. The argument is this has been great for consumers. The access to good legal advice has been something that has been needed for years and years and years. For us attorneys, it creates a different problem. All of a sudden, we have a lot of competitors, and there’s a lot of different pricing options and a lot of different service options that clients are faced with when deciding on a lawyer.
When a prospective client comes to your firm or spends 15 or 20 minutes with you on the phone in an initial conversation, how do you convert that lead to a paying client? This is a fundamental question of sales across industries, but in the legal services industry, has unique needs.
I started our law firm in 2008 and have relied almost exclusively on internet-based leads to build our practice. We have up to 12 to 15 different prospective clients calling or emailing our firm daily. We have to have a way of filtering out those leads to prospective clients that we want to deal with and then taking that subset of leads that we want as potential clients and converting them to clients.
So, there are three things I’ve done over the years to convert thousands of leads to paying clients using these three tips.
1. Send thought leadership information
The first tip is to follow up with your thought leadership information. Any lawyer that is going to get the prospective client in is likely to give that prospective client some initial feedback on their case, some potential strategy the lawyer could employ, and you’re probably doing the same thing, and that’s all well and good. But the thing that will separate you from other lawyers is if you have thought leadership pieces that you can then send over to the prospective client to show them that you’ve been here before and that this is not your first rodeo without actually having to say that.
For example, our firm has a repository of videos about various different trademark issues. Whether it’s an issue about the ownership of a trademark, about whether to file with your logo or to not file with your logo, all these different questions that we get from clients can be summed up by sending a video, “Hey look, we actually did a video on this, and it’s a common question we get and we have a really good answer for it.” Or, “Hey, we did a podcast on this type of issue, and we thought you’d find it interesting to listen to.” Or, finally, “Hey, here’s a blog or a column I’ve written for a publication that discusses the types of things we were talking about in our consultation.”
These types of thought leadership pieces reassure the potential client that you are the right person for the job because you’ve been there, you’ve done that, and you’ve even put out information about that particular issue. There are a lot of lawyers out there that simply do not take the time to produce this type of content or have relationships with media where they can get columns posted or quoted in articles.
If you take the time and lay that foundation, it will come back and help you immeasurably on every potential client that you’re trying to convert to a paying client for your practice. So, this may not be something you can go out and start implementing today as far as what you can send your clients, but what you have to do is start laying the groundwork. You have to start recording videos. You have to start writing articles, getting in touch with the media, trying to get yourself quoted in media pieces about your particular subject area.
If you lay this groundwork over the course of several years, then when you get a prospective client and you’re able to push all this information their way and show all the things you’ve done, you’re going to stand head and shoulders amongst your peers. Nobody is going to be able to compete with you because you can’t fake this stuff. You actually have to work and produce the content. It is very difficult and time-consuming to do, and not everybody’s going to do it.
2. Provide Fee Clarity
The second thing you need to do to convert a lead to a paying client for your practice is provide clarity on fees. I think that that’s the number one complaint that most people have about lawyers, in general, is that we charge an arm and a leg. You never know what the bill is going to be, it’s always a surprise. If you can provide your client clarity on fees and confidence that you’re going to handle their matter in a cost-effective way, you are going to develop the trust needed for that client to sign the engagement form.
Now, clarity on fees can come in a number of ways. In our firm, when it comes to doing a trademark filing or a trademark search, we can offer a flat rate to the client for the particular work and the associated consultation time. So, there’s not an egg timer going when we get on the call with a client or a bill for every email they send us.
We let them know that in advance so they can feel comfortable communicating with our firm. They also know what the price will be before they even begin work, and that is something that really lets us have a good relationship with somebody getting things going, is there is not this worry about what the bill is going to look like in 30 days.
Now, you may say, “Well Josh, you know, I have a complicated matter. It’s multiple stages. We don’t exactly know what the fee is going to be because it depends on what the other party does, what the other side does, what opposing counsel may force us to do in discovery.” That’s all well and good. I understand that, too.
You know, we handle trademark trial and appeal board matters, and that is akin to litigation. It’s an administrative court in the trademark office where if somebody files a complaint, you have to file an answer. Then, there’s a discovery conference, then the parties could engage in discovery requests for documents, depositions, that type of thing. It can get really expensive, but the vast majority of those cases are going to settle at some point in early discovery or before.
So, the way we explain the cost structure to clients is, “Look, there’s going to be this initial cost, typically a couple of thousand dollars, to get through the initial phase of the case. This could be the filing of the opposition, the filing of the answer, initial settlement discussions, discovery conference, maybe even preparing the initial discovery request. Then, once we get to the next stage, this is what the cost will look like. It could be $5,000 or $10,000 to respond to discovery, depending on what it is, what the questions are. Do we need to do a deposition?
We can explain to them through the process what the different costs will be, but we will also explain to them where the settlement points are and what is more than likely to happen at each stage in the process. So, while we can’t give the client a definitive answer of what the whole case could cost, we can definitely give them some initial certainty as to what the first few steps will cost and then what the next stages would likely look like and we can revise that quote as we get into them depending on what happens with the case.
There’s not going to be any other lawyer out there that’s going to tell the client, at least not a scrupulous lawyer that’s going to tell a client, “Oh, this case will only cost $5,000 from point A to point Z.” Because nobody really knows that. But by explaining to the client and educating the client as to the different stages of the process, now the client has a guide that they can trust, and they know that, “Look, I’m going into this forest, I don’t know the way, but this lawyer has been through the forest many times before and knows the way and knows the different costs along the way.” And so, as we get to different points in our journey, we can stop and explain to the client where we are, what the costs are, and why those costs exist.
Coming back to converting this lead, when you start at this initial process with a client and can show them very clearly what the first few months or first month will look like fee wise and then what things could get to later on and show them the path you’re likely to take, you’re going to be giving them clarity on fees that they can then use to decide whether or not to engage your services.
Perhaps, most importantly, if the client does sign on the dotted line with you, you’re going to get somebody that’s prepared to pay your fees and not somebody that you’ve logged in with, “Oh, just give me a $500,000 retainer, and then you really need $20,000 to properly execute.” You’re going to get a client relationship that is the one you want where you’re on the same page about what the matter will cost. When they engage you, you’re not going to get a question every 30 days about how you’re spending your time.
3. Ask for the sale
The third point that I’ve used over the years that I think is vastly overlooked by many salespeople, is to ask for the sale. I consider all lawyers salespeople. If you don’t sell and you don’t take the idea that you’re actually selling your services because you’re a lawyer and you’re too good for sales, you’re never going to build a practice. You have to think about everything you’re doing with a potential client as a sales process and what a sales professional would do.
The one thing that every sales professional should do is ask for the sale. If I have a prospective client, and I need to close the deal, and I give them some information, right, as we talked about, “Hey, here’s some articles we’ve done, here’s some information.” Then, I follow up and I give them clarity on fees and I explain to them what the fees will be, the next thing I need to do is I need to say,
Here is our engagement form. It’s going to cost whatever it is to engage us. We always have a retainer to make sure they’re serious, as well as our engagement agreement. The way you engage us is you sign this, and you write a check or you give me a credit card, and we’re off to the races.
By asking for that sale and showing the client exactly what they have to do to engage you, now you’ve created that point that you’re going to convert that lead to a paying client.
And they might not sign on the dotted line the first time you ask. If they don’t, that doesn’t mean you just say, “Oh, I’m not going to pressure them and I’m not going to ask them.” Now, we don’t want to be emailing them every day calling them, “Hey, where’s my engagement letter?” That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about you determine based on the client. Should you follow up in two days, four days, a week?
But follow up, and say, “Hey, I know I sent you my engagement form, did you want to get started? Can you sign it and send it back with the check?” There’s no harm in following up and asking somebody to complete the task you need them to complete to become your client. If you simply wait around for people to call you and ask you for your engagement letter, you’re going to convert significantly less leads to paying clients than you would otherwise if you just simply asked for it and followed up appropriately.
So, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. I hope it got your creative juices flowing about what types of thought leadership pieces you could start building, about how to provide your clients clarity on fees, and how to just follow up and close the sale. If you’d like to talk to me about things you’ve done over the years that have been helpful and share it with our community, please post in the comments below or drop me an email with things that have worked for you so we can have discussions about them on social media.
You can always find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. Feel free to get in touch. I’m always looking for feedback on these episodes or ideas for future shows we could do. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for watching or listening if you’re on our podcast, and I look forward to seeing you next time.