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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 five reasons why this happens will help us understand how to prevent it from occurring in the future.

No Need
This means the client does not see the need to hire 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.

No Urgency
In this case, the client is in no rush to retain a lawyer. Maybe he feels that 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.

No Money
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. Let 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.

No Trust
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.

Never Quit
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. That 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 will miss many, many opportunities. Start today and never, ever stop.

Do you have what it takes to be successful?

Dave Lorenzo

Dave Lorenzo helps solo attorneys, large law firms and small independent law practices make a great living and live a great life. People say his down-to-earth personality reflects more of his street smarts than his Ivy-League education.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesMarketing

About the Author: Dave Lorenzo helps solo attorneys, large law firms and small independent law practices make a great living and live a great life. People say his down-to-earth personality reflects more of his street smarts than his Ivy-League education.

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