Our Attorneys Marketing Mantra: Never Be Needy
The attorneys marketing with Rainmaker Lawyer Consulting come from many different backgrounds and practice in many different areas but they all agree on one thing: Never appear needy.
Here’s what I mean:
All of us have, at various times in our business careers, needed to close a deal. Maybe we needed money and the client sitting across the desk from us was the last chance for us to make our rent payment on time. Or maybe we wanted to purchase something and the person on the phone was willing to retain us and we gave in to a weak attempt at negotiation in order to “get his money in the door.”
Sometimes we do things we regret because we need money. These things include; taking bad clients, negotiating fees without negotiating value, or saying something ridiculously desperate to curry favor with a prospective client.
What many attorneys marketing their services don’t realize is that prospective clients can smell the stink on neediness on you. This stench, like a rotting corpse in your office, repels clients and their money.
Nobody works with a needy lawyer. Even through we’ve all needed to “close the next deal” at some time, neediness is not attractive.
So listen up all you attorneys studying marketing…Rainmaker Lawyer students are not only confident in their legal prowess but they also never give off the appearance of being needy.
What Did You Sell Today?
I have a profitable little habit I want to share with you.
It’s a habit I picked up out of necessity. You know – the need to eat – the need to feed my kids.
Every day I make it my mission to sell something to someone.
I am in the business of helping lawyers make a great living and live a great life, which means I usually have to sell something to a lawyer.
Each day I must come to an agreement with someone to help them in exchange for legal tender.
Most days this is easy. People call on the phone with a problem, question, concern or need. Together we come to an agreement on whether or not I can help them. That’s selling.
Some days nobody calls. On those days I reach out to past clients, referral sources or influential people in the community. I ask them to introduce me to a lawyer (or lawyers) who may need my services. Sometimes I ask them to help me get in touch with people who put attorney conventions together or edit articles in law firm trade magazines. That is also selling.
Now you may be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you. After all, you are a lawyer. You are a professional. And professionals – particularly lawyers – don’t sell.
In spite of what some of folks will tell you, a sale is made every time you interact with a potential client or referral source. Either you sell them on why you should be their lawyer or they sell themselves on why you shouldn’t.
Think about that for a minute.
Every time you meet with a potential client, speak with a potential client on the phone, meet with a referral source, have lunch with another lawyer or talk to someone who could refer you business, you are selling.
If you make the sale, you’ll get the client. If not, the other person has sold himself on why you are NOT going to get his case or his referral.
Still think lawyers don’t sell?
Have you ever argued a case in front of a jury? Made an argument to a court or magistrate? Ever tried to get your wife to agree to go see that new action adventure flick? Ever try to get your kid to clean his room? Ever try to get your mother-in-law to go away, on vacation, for a lengthy period of time?
A sale is made in each of these examples.
You sell. I sell. Everyone sells. Every day.
You can choose to become adept at it. You can choose to make it a habit. You can choose to live well.
Or you can choose to bury your head in the sand and continue to believe that lawyers don’t sell and that selling is evil.
As for me, I have a couple of calls to make. I like helping people. The way I help people is by sharing my knowledge and expertise with them.
What did you sell today?
Law Firm Marketing: What to Do vs. How to Do It
The other day I met with an attorney who has been practicing for over 20 years. We were meeting to determine if I could help him. Under his arm he had a file full of my weekly emails (he is a subscriber to The Rainmaker Minute). The conversation started like this:
Attorney: “I don’t know how much more you can do for me. I am doing everything you talk about in The Rainmaker Minute”.
Me: “You’re probably right. I probably cannot help you. But just for fun, tell me about one of the things you did.”
Attorney: “The hand written notes.”
Me: “What about them?”
Attorney: “I sent them out and I didn’t get any clients.”
Me: “How many notes did you send out, to whom, and over how many months?”
Attorney: “Uh…last Tuesday I sent three handwritten notes to past clients.”
Me: “Just one time, on one day?”
Attorney: “Yeah. And it took 20 minutes and I got noting from it.”
Obviously this guy did not follow the process as I designed it. Sending a hand written note is supposed to be the beginning of an on-going follow-up system in which you build a relationship with your prospective client or referral source. This is a long term strategy. Relationships take time to build. Apparently, this guy missed that point.
Nevertheless, that was a real conversation with a real attorney. And it is not atypical. I hear that sort of thing often. People think because they know WHAT to do, they know HOW to do it.
Back in my early years I went to culinary school. There I learned how to cook. I know WHAT to do in order to make a meal. However, unless you want to be deathly ill, you do not want me to make you something to eat…ever. I am not good at it because I do not know HOW to cook.
Here is the moral of this story: When it comes to anything, especially law firm marketing, just because you know what to do, that doesn’t mean you know how to do it correctly.
I often compare law firm marketing to sex. Everybody knows what to do but few people take the time to do it properly.
Attorney Marketing for the Solo: The Basics Are Still Missing
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s third annual law firm practice management workshop. It was a terrific event organized by F.A.C.D. L. President Brian Tannebaum.
This event was a huge success because of the engagement level of the participants. Almost every attorney in attendance was hanging on the words of every speaker. Several successful attorneys disclosed their methods for everything from greeting a client to managing attorney client privilege with the parents of defendants.
My presentation covered the basics of attorney marketing and business strategy. I challenged the criminal attorneys to focus on developing relationships with referral sources rather than spending large sums of money on direct-to-consumer marketing initiatives. I challenged them to have enough confidence in their legal ability to always charge a consultation fee. I challenged them to spend more time on business strategy and marketing than they currently have allocated. And I gave them a couple of specific things they could implement on Monday back in their law firms.
Overall I think the presentation was well received. There were lots of questions afterward (which is always a good sign). But there was a noticeable disconnect. It was almost like 30% of the room was speaking a different language.
The most telling moment of the event for me was when one of the speakers asked the audience how many of them had a blog. About a dozen of the 150 lawyers in the room raised their hands. The rest of the group just seemed confused by the reference. Blogs have been around for the better part of 10 years but lawyers have yet to embrace them as a mainstream marketing tool.
But that is not my point. Forget about technology, I could not even find 10 lawyers who took a referral source to lunch once a week. Or sent a hand-written note to a colleague after he passed them a referral. Or thought about the return on investment before spending money on an advertising gimmick.
The point I am trying to make is that attorney marketing basics are not being taught anywhere.
Brian Tannebaum’s event was fantastic in that it gets attorneys interested in investing time on marketing and business strategy.
At lunch, in his keynote speech, the great Roy Black actually said that lawyers should stop reading trial guides and should start reading business books. He then went on to say that lawyers needed to become salespeople and he told them to “get over it” if they thought that selling was beneath them.
The criminal defense attorneys who were at the F.A.C.D.L. event now have an idea of what it takes to build a successful law firm. The question remains: Where will they go to find the foundational attorney marketing skills necessary to build the law firms they each deserve?
Attorney Marketing: How to Get Clients to Say Yes
A couple of weeks ago I was with a lawyer who, even after 15 years of practice, was amazed that a client did not instantly engage him. In the mind of the lawyer, there was a clear need, the client had money and the situation had to be handled immediately. Yet my client was not selected as the attorney to do the job.
This happens to all of us. And it happens more often than we would like. Recognizing the four reasons why this happens will help us understand how to prevent it from happening in the future.
This means the client does not see the need in hiring a lawyer to handle this situation. It happens in EVERY practice area. I have seen people facing criminal charges refuse to accept the assistance of a lawyer.
Of course this does not mean they REALLY have no need for your services. It means you must help them realize that they need your services.
One of the best ways to help the client see the need is through education. You must walk them through the potential steps involved in the process they face. You must show them the expertise required to navigate the maze of legal issues. You should make sure they feel the complexity involved in handling their particular matter. And you must do all of these things in a generic way. In other words you must promote the hiring of a lawyer without promoting yourself.
Often a lawyer will not view a situation as complex because he has been through it dozens or even hundreds of times. But for the non-lawyer, even handling a traffic ticket can have overwhelming complexity. We must be ever mindful of knowledge gap (between the non-lawyer and someone who has faced this before) and address it with the client in a non-threatening way.
In this case the client is in no rush to retain a lawyer. Maybe he feels as though taking a wait-and-see approach will make things better. Maybe he does not realize the gravity of the situation. Maybe he is uneducated on the potential consequences of delaying action.
In all of these scenarios, the lack of urgency can be addressed in much the same way as the client who perceives there to be little or no need.
One of the best ways to help the client feel the urgency is by presenting similar situations and the adverse consequences of not hiring an attorney. While this may seem like the perfect time to present facts and figures, it is not. This is the time to make the worst case scenario real for the client. You must emotionally engage him in thinking about how bad things could be.
If the client shows the proper respect for the potential adverse consequences of his situation, he will realize the urgency.
In most cases when the client says they have no money this really means they do not see the value in hiring you. I have had clients tell me they have no money and then go out buy a new car or a new home or go on an expensive vacation the day after our meeting.
The best thing to do when you hear a client say they have no money is to immediately challenge that statement. A great question that gives people perspective is: “We value things we believe to be a priority. Why is this not a priority for you?”
This is also an educational opportunity. Help the client understand how their situation will improve as a result of hiring a lawyer. He them see how they can regain (or improve) their personal status. Focus on the goals and desires of the buyer. If you link spending to the desired outcome you will break through this barrier.
This is one of the biggest areas of misconception among lawyers. Going to law school does not immediately make you trustworthy. Yet many lawyers feel that clients should trust them immediately because they are “trained professionals”.
Do not rush a business relationship. Make sure you take the time to understand the client’s situation. Make sure you really listen for issues behind the words. Reflect that understanding back to the client. Sometimes this takes hours, days, weeks, months or years.
Trust is a foundational need. If you do not have trust, you have no chance of engaging the client.
The common thread running through the solutions to each of these objections is maintaining an external orientation. The attorney must focus on the client and his issues 100% of the time during this process. This is counterintuitive as attorneys typically respond with their biography and qualifications when they are presented with a challenge or objection during the marketing process.
How will you respond the next time a client says “NO” to you?
Attorney Marketing Advice: Never Quit
Things are tough for lawyers. Although many will blame the economy for their lack of success, the truth is that a lack of persistent aggressive activity is really to blame.
Consider these statistics from a business study conducted by Notre Dame University:
- 2% of all sales are made on the 1st attempt
- 3% of all sales are made on the 2nd attempt
- 5% of all sales are made on the 3rd attempt
- 10% of all sales are made on the 4th attempt
- 80% of all sales are made after the 5th attempt
This supports the assertion that marketing efforts must be persistent. It also supports the theory that business development requires patience and persistence.
Now in the face of those statistics, consider the following information (also from the same study):
- 44% of sales people quit trying after the first call
- 24% of sales people quit after the second call
- 14% of sales people quit after the third call
- 12% of sales people quit after the fourth call
This means 94% of people looking for new business quit after the fourth call.
Those are sales people. We are talking about people who are trained to gain the interest of a prospective client and engage them to do business. And THEY are giving up after the fourth call.
How long do you think the average lawyer persists until he gets business from a client? How many mailing pieces do you think the average lawyer sends to a prospective client?
How many emails are in the average lawyers email sequence to his client base?
How many months does the average lawyer send out his newsletter before he gives up?
If you want to get clients as a lawyer you have to be able to sell. You can use various marketing techniques to help you get clients to come to you but ultimately selling is your job. If you give up before the fifth, sixth or seventh opportunity, you are going to miss out on many significant chances to represent good clients.
What to Do with This Information
Here is what you should do with this information: Build persistence into your marketing. Set up follow-up systems that engage EVERYONE you meet. Make sure your message gets in front of them at least once a week.
This gives you 52 opportunities every year. It is 52 attempts to get them to consider working with you.
You have to be interesting and each approach should be slightly different. But ultimately, if you quit, you miss will many, many opportunities. Start today and never, ever stop.
Do you have what it takes t be successful?
The Truth About Law Firm Marketing Feedback
Let’s say you’re sitting around the office with a few of your lawyer buddies and you begin to talk about law firm marketing. You start talking about follow-up systems and referral systems and value based billing and positioning. You are basically teaching a marketing clinic to your buddies. You’re showing them all the stuff you learn here.
As the conversation heats up you start pulling out some of your marketing material. You’re feeling good about yourself because the guys you are talking to have no clue what real marketing is.
Then it happens. You show them your stuff and they start to tear it apart. They start to talk about how they know someone who tried that once and it didn’t work. And they know people who have used those strategies and they wasted a lot of money. And they say that someone’s uncle got disbarred for using that particular tactic…
All of a sudden your marketing love-fest became a funeral home. You’re depressed, your buddies think you are foolish and everyone walks away a little less confident than they were a few minutes ago.
This illustrates the problem of sharing good marketing information with the average, untrained lawyer. Most lawyers do not have the slightest clue about law firm marketing. They are not qualified to evaluate your marketing strategy. (They are probably not qualified to give interior design advice either but somehow we never take their thoughts on the color of the rug seriously.)
The moral of the story is: Only seek law firm marketing feedback from people who know about law firm marketing. If you want legal advice call a lawyer. If you want to learn about law firm marketing, call The Rainmaker.
Why Is It So Easy To Hire You?
Every so often I will point out things I think are worth reading for people interested in law firm marketing. This week I came across a post by Seth Godin on open buying and open selling. Seth is talking about the ease of getting something and its true value to the end user. This is a concept that is near and dear to me. If something is easy to get, how much could it be worth?
Let’s say you need to see a heart surgeon. It’s not an emergency but your doctor has detected an irregular heartbeat. The doctor doesn’t give you a referral (he doesn’t believe in them). So you are forced to find a heart surgeon on your own.
You go to the Internet and you call the heart surgeon who comes up on top in a Google search. You call the office at 9AM and get an appointment for 11AM. After a FREE consultation, you shake the doctor’s hand and he agrees to operate on you at 1PM.
What do you think? Is that guy most likely a good doctor or a bad doctor?
I know that sounds ludicrous but that’s what happens with many lawyers.
You can pick up the phone at 9AM, make an appointment for today at 11, go to the office for a FREE consultation and have an attorney retained by 1PM.
And the attorneys who operate this way wonder why they have so many clients who shop around.
It is not easy to hire a good lawyer. Good lawyers are selective in the clients they accept. Good lawyers are always busy…too busy to handle same day appointments or walk-ins…too busy to offer FREE consultations.
If you want quality clients you need to have a process in place to select them. If you want clients to listen to your advice they must perceive it as valuable. Law firm marketing helps influence that perception but commonsense must also have a role.
Clients get what they pay for…and they know it.
How One Law Firm Created a Culture of Sales Success
Have you ever wondered why some firms struggle just to get by during an economic downturn while others flourish?
One of my clients, Phil, was promoted to Managing Director of a medium size law firm in South Florida a little more than a year ago. His firm was heavily into representing condominium associations and real estate transactional work. Phil was the only “business law guy” (his description) in the firm so it was a bit of a shock to the team when the management committee selected him to become the top dog.
To make matters worse, the firm was decimated by the loss of several senior partners when two former shareholders basically raided the firm and took the “top talent” with them. Two members of the five member management committee were also calling it quits – one went to work for a client and the other thought he could do better on his own. The firm seemed destined to be absorbed by another, larger law firm. Phil’s partners agreed to give him a year to turn the place around or they would also bail out.
So Phil earned this promotion just over a year ago, and his task was clear: Shift the focus of the firm from a real estate shop to a business-focused firm as quickly as possible. (For those of you who have been living under a rock, real estate in South Florida is deader than Elvis). Phil was left with a core team of associates who had little business transaction experience and a few paralegals who had worked exclusively on real estate management and transaction issues.
Fourteen months later, Phil’s firm has doubled its billings. At a recent gathering of my clients, I asked him to give a presentation to the group and talk about how he did it. Here are his Million-Dollar secrets:
Cultivate potential. Phil said that he thought the main problem with his firm was that the associates were unmotivated. They had been losing for so long that they felt like losers and generally exerted minimal effort. Phil’s first goal was to foster a sense of value and purpose among his colleagues. He offered incentives for reaching and exceeding monthly billing quotas. He met with each employee regularly to give positive feedback on business development techniques that were working. Phil’s positive attitude extended beyond him and influenced everyone who worked for him. Billing and new matter origination began to climb.
Build a team. One of the incentives for exceeding the monthly billing quota was an evening out at the bar, with an open tab which Phil would cover. He strongly encouraged all associates to attend, and almost all of them did. Spending time in a relaxed setting with each other helped develop a sense of community and common purpose, and being recognized for their work motivated each individual member of the firm to excel. Revenue continued to increase along with moral.
“Wow” our clients. Phil says that it’s his mission to make sure every client will recommend the firm to others. He stops at nothing to make sure their needs are met, and, not surprisingly, he has gotten tremendous positive feedback from them and enjoyed the referrals they have sent his way. Phil does his best to get along with everybody and understand his unique concerns. Making a connection with the client, tuning in to his needs, and making sure he is wowed is Phil’s absolute top priority, he says. His motivation is derived from a desire to provide excellent value and service. Many clients remark that they have never heard that from a law firm.
Constantly improve. Phil expects a lot of himself, his associates, and his firm. He never stops working on ideas to improve what’s already great. From client service to presentation to administration, Phil works hard to stay on top of the game. He keeps his associates busy with their regular case loads as well as business development projects. He is open to their suggestions for improvement, and implements many of these ideas. He is never satisfied merely to skate by. He is firmly committed to excellence, and he’s determined to do the best he can.
Emphasize value. Phil is a happy person and a positive thinker. When interacting with clients, he places primary focus on the value of the case work and service the company provides. He demonstrates his readiness to provide outstanding service and makes the client feel secure in his investment in the firm. He shares compelling facts about the firm’s success with the team, demonstrating his pride in working where he does. In the presentation he gave to our client group, he emphasized what a fantastic job his team was doing. Though he had been the catalyst for turning them around, he gave the credit for the hard work and upward billing trends to them. Of course, this reveals a personal security and confidence that is magnetic to everyone.
A little over a year ago Phil was left with a core team of associates who had little business transaction experience and a few paralegals who had worked exclusively on real estate management and transaction issues. His aggressive style and his attitude helped turn around a firm that had been lagging for years before the real estate market in South Florida crashed.
Phil says he can summarize his success in building a culture of sales success with the following statement: Whatever you do, do it well. If you don’t love what you do and you are not rewarded by your work, look elsewhere. Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s by performing half-heartedly. Follow your passion, and find work in which you can make a difference.
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain - Wrap Up
This article is part of an article series on How to Get Clients as a Lawyer.
The Series Is titled: Remove the Pain for Financial Gain
Here are links to all the articles in the series:
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Part 1: Introduction
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Part 2: The Process
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Part 3: The Interview
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Part 4: The Diagnosis
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Part 5: The Agitation
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Part 6: The Prescription
Remove the Pain for Financial Gain: Wrap-up
We just finished up a series on the consultative sales model that many attorneys are using effectively to develop relationships with their clients.
I used the acronym IDAP to help the attorneys I work with remember the different steps of the process.
This series of articles was designed to serve as an introduction to IDAP. Here’s what we covered in each article.
In part 1 we discussed the fact that attorneys are in the pain relief business. Many attorneys are hooked on process and procedure. They are not focused on the client. The best way to begin a relationship with a client is to see things from his perspective.
After you have the client’s perspective firmly in focus you must look at all the ways to solve the client’s problem. Your job is to identify and take away the pain the client feels.
In part 2 we introduce the IDAP process. IDAP stands for Interview, Diagnose, Agitate, Prescribe. Part 2 spells out how this process works and how attorneys can effectively use it to build strong client relationships.
In part 3 we examine the art of the interview. A good interview can help you uncover the client’s true pain. In the interview stage the attorney must be able to uncover the client’s pain while not appearing to interrogate him. Part 3 outlines how to do this.
Part 4 describes how a client will actually diagnose his own problem for the attorney. This is important because it helps generate buy-in on the part of the client. He is buying in to the fact that he has a problem and he needs to solve it.
Part 5 outlines how to take that issue and create some urgency in the mind of the client toward solving the problem NOW. Many engagements are viewed almost as “elective” work for the client – they don’t realize how badly they need to get the matter resolved. The agitation process outlined in part five demonstrates how to help the client understand the need to solve this problem now.
Finally in part 6 we covered how and when to present a solution to a client. It is critically important that this be handled in exactly the right way. If you don’t keep your client engaged as you do your work, you may not develop any follow-up business from him.
These six articles serve as a good introduction to the consultative sales process that helps attorneys build big businesses.
“Sales” is not a dirty word. It is an essential part of your business development arsenal. Learn how to sell and you will control your own destiny.