I’ve sat through many practice-building seminars in the last five years, each one promising that if you follow their tips and tricks, you will grow you practice N-fold. By and large, these seminars describe in detail how to market to referral sources who, they promise, will send you clients with big bucks.
And while there’s nothing wrong with the techniques they teach (usually), there is something fundamental missing in each one.
They do not teach how to engage the clients who do walk in your door. Alexis has always told me that she can teach anyone to get their phone ringing. But no matter how much the phone rings, if the people in front of you don’t say “YES!”, you will go home empty handed and so will they.
That latter part is the critical part. Your prospects will go home without a plan.
Sit with that a bit.
If you’re an estate planner and you’ve had the chance to analyze what would happen to your prospect’s family if they died or were incapacitated, how do YOU feel about them not having a plan?! Are you nonplussed, concerned, terrified? If that person were your mother, father or sibling, how would you feel knowing you let them out of your office without doing your best to make sure they had the right plan in place?
Have you not done that person a huge disservice? I know I have.
For most people who walk in my door, an emergency situation could easily become much, much worse. It could become a disaster. I owe it to my clients to do my best to make sure they have all the information they need to make a good choice and that I make it EASY for them to say yes to me.
Lawyers are told that selling is beneath them. I agree. Selling is…well…sales. Ick. I never wanted to sell myself or my firm. When I started, my biggest hurdle was trying to overcome this block. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.
Because it quickly became clear that the service I was providing my clients was so needed, so important, and that I bring much more than just legal document preparation to my clients. I learned that just having a systematic approach to engaging clients, in a way that felt good to me, and providing a solid, foundational legal education, clients found their own readiness to get their planning done.
Engaging clients is an art and a science and it is NOT taught in law school, nor is it taught in law firms. In fact, many lawyers never experience what it means to engage a client because their firms and firm partners are doing it for them. They’re merely fielding the clients as they come in.
Here’s the rub, engaging clients is the critical skill you must have if you ever want to be free of the big law firm model, if you want to have your own firm, or work in a firm that encourages your highest potential and entrepreneurial spirit. Unfortunately, few law firms can or will teach you to engage effectively… I can get you started, though.
Here are 6 secrets that are essential to implement if you want to engage more clients for your law firm:
- Welcome people into your office warm-heartedly
- Find out if a client is a good match for you and you for them… before your first meeting
- Weed out people who would use law firm time without compensation
- Lay out a series of decision points and meeting structures that help clients discover their own desire to engage you for their planning
- Have a natural conversation that leads to a signed engagement agreement
- Make your legal work emotionally and intellectually accessible and even FUN!
If you’re engaging less than 75% of the people who walk into your office, you most definitely have an engagement problem. And if you’re new to estate planning practice (or any kind of practice, really), client engagement will be the first skill you’ll want to acquire (along with your legal/technical knowledge).
Think about these six secrets, and how you can make them actionable for your own law business… And please comment below if you have any other tips to share with other lawyers.
Want to learn more?