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7 Sales Tips for Lawyers
As Austin Lafferty, the new president of the Law Society of Scotland says, all lawyers are now salespeople. With the rise of Alternative Business Structures, increased competition both from within and without the legal services industry and altering consumer expectations, all lawyers, at every level from trainee to senior partner, must become adept at selling. This isn't as hard as you might think, and almost certainly won't involve trudging from door-to-door hawking your services (unless , of course, you want to!). Here are Moore Legal Technology's top 7 sales tips for lawyers.
1. People buy from People.
This is an all-too-often forgotten mantra of sales. As a lawyer, you might think that all the client wants is your service and nothing more. You may feel that your personality is unimportant as long as the job gets done.
Too many sales people simply try to sell their product or service with no focus on what they themselves have to offer, and no focus on the clients needs. Yes, if you race to complete a sale you may win a client, but you are much more likely to ensure repeat business if you invest time and effort in building a rapport and relationship with that client. This is, of course, to say nothing of the word-of-mouth referrals you will get if you tailor your approach to each client and their needs.
What can you do?
First, spend some time with the client that isn't all business. Take an interest, however slight, in getting to know about them and what they need. Second, use the internet to your advantage. The great benefit of social media is that it can bring people together despite them never having met. Using Twitter, LinkedIN, Facebook, Pinterest etc can help build a rapport with a potential client before you meet them. We extol the virtues of social media elsewhere on the site but in pure business generation terms, this is were it is most critical. So, befriend, connect with and follow potential clients (unless you are a criminal defence solicitor). If they feel they know you, they are more likely to buy from you.
2. SPIN your way to a sale.
SPIN Selling is a model of sales based on an influential Salesman, Neil Rackham. Basically, this model posits that there are four types of question in a sales situation and gives advice on how to ask these. The four stages are:
Find out a bit about the potential clients situation. Find out about their background. This ties in with tip 1. Use this time to build rapport.
Here is where you focus the clients mind on their current problem. Ask them about the ramifications of the situation they are in. Use this time to clarify and categorise the legal nature of the problem.
This is the most important line of questioning. Discuss the effects of their problem and explore solutions together. Your goal is to have the customer propose a solution that you can deliver.
Ask questions about the value, utility or usefulness of YOUR particular solution. Get the client to tell YOU about the benefits your solution offers.
3. Be clear and direct.
One crucial thing to remember when dealing with clients is this: You have had years of legal training and experience, they have not. Avoid technical legal language and jargon (and for Deus' sake, don't use latin) The biggest factor that slows down sales is client confusion. If they don't understand it, they won't buy it. Use clear, plain english and explain difficult concepts as succinctly as possible. Answer questions directly and if you don't know, don't guess.
4. Always Be Closing.
Anyone who has seen 'Glengarry Glen Ross' will be familiar with Alec Baldwin's rant on this particular aspect of sales. This might appear to run a little counter to our advice in tip no.1 (build rapport and take an interest in your client) but you should always have a goal in mind and be driving your client towards that. Bring your clients' attention back to their situation and your solution(s) as often as possible. Cross-selling your firm's other legal services is also important. If you don't focus on an outcome, you are just having a pleasant chat.
5. Know when to walk away.
Some clients simply canvass for advice, or shop around. Some are just genuinely vexatious. Some, however, might want to probe every aspect of your service before buying. You need to develop an intuition for which is which. Your time is valuable, so don't waste it with 'cold' clients.
Sometimes, walking away can be the best way of closing a sale. If a client is genuinely interested, they'll most probably tell you to sit back down.
6. Generate leads.
'Leads' or 'prospects' are the raw material from which the future of your business will be built. You will need a steady stream of leads in order to build and grow your client base. As we have said before, the legal services market is changing. People are now seeking out legal/ professional services in a different way, and have different expectations. The internet has replaced the Yellow Pages.
The great thing about the internet is that it allows you to target specific audiences, collect data from and about them, to monitor how many leads you are generating and from which sources and to interact with potential customers before they come to you for advice.
You will always get 'walk-in' leads who come through your door, as well as word-of-mouth referrals, but there is no more powerful tool for generating new business than the internet. For relatively little cost, you can have a mechanism which gathers potential new clients, all of whom have sought out your particular service. A tailored, optimised website, with informative content, set up in such a way that it ranks highly in search engines will drive more people to your business, more often than any other method. See our page on SEO for law firms for more advice.
7. Train your staff and yourself.
As we said at the beginning of this article, it's vital to the success of a business that everyone can sell. Whether this is by sharking your way through a networking session or by chatting over the phone, everyone in your firm should be helping to grow the business. Invest time in training staff to sell your services, and make them aware of the need for them to do so.
Sales, like law, requires a continual topping up of knowledge and experience. The more you invest in training your staff and yourself, the more (and more quickly) your business will grow. If you are a junior lawyer, then developing an ability to bring in new clients will speed you up the career ladder.