It takes time, money, or both to generate law firm leads. Unfortunately, after making that initial investment, many law firms miss their best opportunities to convert those leads to paying clients. These three key steps will help your law firm make the most of your leads.
When a potential client contacts a law firm, he or she is looking to solve a problem. The problem may be one that just arose, such as an arrest. Or, it may be something that has been on the back burner for some time, such as the need to incorporate a business that has been operating as a sole proprietorship. Either way, when that client picks up the phone or fills out the form on your law firm website, it means she is ready to act now. If you’re not ready to act along with her, chances are very good that she’ll simply click the back arrow and try the next law firm.
The practice of law requires focus, so it makes good business sense for an attorney to set aside tasks like returning telephone calls for the end of the day—as long as someone else is fielding those inquiries. If your law firm is large enough to dedicate a staff member to following up on leads immediately, do so. Every minute that passes after the initial contact is a minute during which that prospect may be connecting with another attorney. If you’re a solo lawyer without in-house staff, seriously consider using an outside service to make initial contact with your leads.
Returning the call immediately or picking up the phone when the lead calls your office is a good start, but it’s not enough. To truly maximize your conversion rate, you must make the investment in connecting with the prospect. Remember that the legal matter triggering this contact is of great importance to your prospective client. You may have handled hundreds of DUI cases, but for the person calling, arrest may be a frightening new experience. Creating a partnership agreement may be routine to you, but it marks the beginning of an exciting (and scary) new professional era for the client.
The person who serves as that potential client’s first point of contact can’t treat the interaction as if the prospect were scheduling an oil change. This initial interaction will set the tone, building trust with the prospect or making him feel like a commodity. Whether the initial point of contact is the attorney, a staff member or an outside service, that person must be professional, competent and compassionate.
Taking the first step can be difficult. In fact, making the decision to seek out an attorney and fill out your contact form may have been difficult. The last thing you want to do is create further obstacles for your potential client. Yet, the businesslike, straight-to-the-point nature of many attorneys leads them to do just that.
It’s easy to inadvertently deter a potential client from moving forward. It may be efficient to provide a prospect with a list of every document and piece of information you’ll need to structure his business entity before your first meeting. Asking the client to bring a specific retainer fee to the first appointment may weed out clients who can’t afford you. But, many people with legal matters to attend to are already feeling overwhelmed and are easily discouraged by extensive “homework” or the request for a chunk of money. Of course, the client will have to commit both effort and money to move the matter forward, but that’s much easier to understand and accept after you’ve explained the process and what the client stands to gain.
Conversion requires a response that is both timely and reassuring. Making quick contact in a way that gives the prospective client confidence in your abilities and your sincere interest in solving his problem can dramatically increase your conversion rate. Converting leads to clients requires an investment, but will quickly pay for itself in new business.
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