In a previous post, I promised to write about how and why client engagement goes off the rails for many attorneys.
As I reflected on that, it dawned on me that there really are only a few reasons people don’t engage with me…
All but one of of which I have some measure of control over.
I’ve found five main factors when we fail to engage a client. They are:
1. Slow Handling of Inquiries/Leads
If someone expresses an interest in your firm, jump on it within 24 hours.
Someone who has reached out to your firm absolutely MUST be contacted immediately because they’ve identified themselves as being a hot lead.
I’ve made this mistake plenty. It’s an easy one to fix. Make it a priority in your firm that inquiries are handled within 24 hours. When we let a lead slide too long, they may go somewhere else.
2. Not Qualifying Leads in Advance
You will not be able to serve everyone well. Figure out who your ideal client is and develop two or three demographic hot points that the ideal client must meet before you’ll meet with them. Embed these hot points into your intake conversation.
“Do you have kids? How many?”
“Do you own your home?”
“What do you think your net worth might be right now?”
These are excellent qualifying questions for your Client Services Director (or YOU if you’re solo) to weave into the initial conversation. This strategy helps keep people who just want free “attorney time” from getting too much of yours. Instead you’ll find you’re meeting only with actual potential clients who can afford your services.
3. Client Experiences Sticker Shock
This is actually the number one reason a person who meets with me doesn’t engage.
But, if I’ve done my job well, I’ve prepared potential clients—as much as possible—for the fee quote to come. I don’t want my potential client shocked at the fee for an attorney-created plan / services. They need to know well in advance of coming into my office what my fee range is.
How do I do that? I make sure each potential client has a chance to hear me speak in person or via webcast. In those presentations, I have the chance to share the depth of knowledge and insight the firm can offer them. In turn I create context for the fee quote. When I speak, I make sure that everyone knows that our fee range is in the thousands… not in the hundreds. That way, clients can self-select out of our firm process before we spend more time and energy investing in someone who will not (or cannot) engage.
Best part is that in the process, they’ve gotten a lot of good information and so feel their time listening to me was well spent, even if they don’t proceed to engagement. This builds goodwill in the community and is a definite factor in our firm’s growth.
4. Not Having Scripts and Systems in Place
I’ve written about this before—when I forget to hit the high notes of the Law Business Mentors’ Client Engagement System, I’m more likely to not engage a client. I periodically go back to this system to see where we may have missed an important point, failed to set expectations properly, not prepared for these meetings thoroughly, or not created a warm, welcoming environment.
If you don’t have or aren’t interested in the CES…
You still need systems in place to efficiently and effectively move clients through the process of lead to engagement.
This includes a script you follow that outlines your services in such a comprehensive way that they truly see the value that you provide. Doing this on the fly is nowhere near as effective as taking the time to map out the presentation, or having a folder with your fee package outlines laid out, offering different levels of service.
5. They Simply Didn’t Want Your Services
This one is probably the hardest to live with as a lawyer. As an estate planner, there are just some people who don’t really want to plan. I’m sure divorce lawyers get looky-loos who aren’t truly ready for a divorce. There is nothing you can do about that.
For me it usually happens when a couple comes in to see me. One of the pair wants to plan, the other just doesn’t. One or the other will win out and sometimes it’s the one who doesn’t actually want to plan.
Aside from this anomaly…
From the moment a potential client reads the name of your firm, to the first interaction with them, to their signature on their final plan or contract, managing their expectations and offering them chances to say “Yes!” to you is fully within your control.
If you’re engaging less than 75% of the people who come in to see you, you can improve.
If you’re engaging less than 50% of the people who come in to see you, please, get help. Now.
You’re leaving a lot money on the table and it’s up to you to figure out where and why that’s happening. To start with—make sure you’re not committing any of the above 4 aspects that are in your control.
Are you ready to really crush it, and make your clients super-happy to be working with you? Start here: