Calendar showing June 1“I need more phone calls.” This is the first thing most attorneys say when I speak with them for the first time. Lawyers want the phone to ring more than it does from their current marketing/referral sources. They spend money on things such as Google Adwords and other advertising to get those phone calls. The simple, and expensive, truth is that the bulk of attorneys shouldn’t start with a focus on increasing phone volume (which is something we’ll do over the coming month). They need to convert the calls they are already getting. Right now you’re saying “I’m good at conversions.” Chances are you suck at converting phone calls into clients and don’t even realize it.

I co-founded SEO for Lawyers in August of 2013, after having helped several colleagues get their law offices into high gear. In early 2013 I helped a family law attorney in town who thought his entire problem was a lack of phone volume (which is what most attorneys think is they’re only problem). He ran a small operation and was doing about $10,000 a month in revenue. In my first week of consulting we focused on converting the calls he was already getting and that week yielded $7,000 in revenue (70 percent of his typical monthly total). The first month I was there his revenue was well in excess of $20,000. He asked what I had done to get the extra phone calls. After wanting to pull all my hair out (fortunately I haven’t started losing my hair as I’ve gotten older) I explained to him that we converted the calls he was already getting into consultations.

I’ve had conversations with lawyers since then who say they need more calls. I ask if they’re following the conversion methods we’ll talk about this week. They typically say “no” and tell me they’re good converters. Then they get a rude awakening. Now ask yourself a question – if it turns out you’re not converting the calls you’re already getting then why would you waste money to get more phone calls that you are not going to convert anyway? Let’s keep you from spending needlessly and increase your revenue at the same time. I hope you’re not opposed to prosperity.

Lawyers need to facilitate the retention process for potential clients

burning hoopIf I wanted to simply hand you several thousand dollars would you make it difficult for me to do so? If you’re like many lawyers then you’re doing this by making people jump through the hoops to the left just to get into your office. Let’s look at examples.

I’ve worked with attorneys receiving a high number of email inquiries through their websites. Many respond by telling the person how he/she can help, provide a few specifics, and then tell the person to call the office to schedule a consultation. WRONG! That potential client was on their website, and had a choice of calling the website’s phone number or sending an email- they chose their preferred communication method. So even though they’ve reached out to the lawyer once, they are being forced to do so again. If someone called you on the phone (their preferred communication method), I hope you wouldn’t tell them to email you instead to schedule the consult because it’s the exact same thing. This is just one example of making someone jump through hoops to get scheduled. People calling you want to pay you money – don’t put the onus on them to get scheduled.

If someone emails you through your website, and they provide a phone number, then your office should pick up the phone and call them- not the other way around. If they don’t provide a phone number then the response should be to get them in the door and not to tell them to call you.

This isn’t the only way in which attorneys fail to facilitate being retained. First, many lawyers don’t confirm their appointments at all, which is a mistake. People are nervous about the prospect of seeing a lawyer. They have apprehensions about how much it will cost or, in some areas such as family law, are afraid to initiate legal proceedings. They may call your office and schedule a consult but still be on the fence. Getting that confirmation request nudges them in the door. They might otherwise blow you off. When you book the consult let them know you’ll confirm the day before and ask if they prefer a text message or a phone call. Most will prefer a text.

“But texting a client to confirm is unprofessional!” This is what a lot of lawyers say about the idea of texting to confirm. Texting has become many people’s preferred communication method and, again, lawyers are making it difficult for the potential client to communicate. Most people will be more likely to respond to a text. Finally, people aren’t going to have your number in their cell phone and likely won’t know who is calling when their phone rings from your office. Many people ignore calls from an unknown number (so they won’t even know you’re calling to confirm). You can leave these people, who prefer to text, a voicemail but who the hell checks their voicemail anymore?

These are two glaring examples of how attorneys ignore what people prefer and make the process difficult. While making it easy for people to communicate with one’s office may seem like common sense, I’ve learned that common sense is not necessarily common. The next big step in facilitating retentions, where attorneys get it wrong, is how offices handle telephone and email inquiries. We’ll look at those tomorrow. Before you say “we’re good on the phone and know how to talk to people,” you may want to consider that the attorney I mentioned above (who doubled his revenue in a month) said the same thing.

Day 1 action items for attorneys wanting more business

Each post in this series is going to end with daily “action items” to get your firm humming along. At the end of this 30 day blog series plenty of attorneys will implement some of the action items. Those will be the people who get some of the results. How successful you are is up to you.

Before you spend money on additional advertising, implement these two things:

  1. Be proactive when a client reaches out to you. Don’t put the onus on a potential client to contact you. If they reach out to you it is now up to you to “guide” them into the office.
  2. Start confirming your consults the day before. When you book the consult ask the client if they would prefer a text, phone call, or smoke signal (just kidding). Conform to their preferred method of communication.

See you tomorrow when we work on your “pitch.”