Upward graphThis is the next post in my series on how attorneys can build a multi-million dollar practice. My last article discussed the need for attorneys to ditch the flawed law firm business model. Instead of trying to get “big” clients which are simply an opportunity to do more work, lawyers should identify the activities which pay the most per hour of labor. They should then focus on doing more of those activities. Taking this approach will allow a law firm to scale up – which is a process that, for reasons beyond my understanding, is foreign to most attorneys. In this article I’ll discuss a big issue on which, in my not so humble opinion, many firms take the wrong approach. That issue is the most efficient and cost effective way to bring in business. Let’s get to it.

I often, often, often, often……..often hear the same thing from attorneys. Many lawyers say that they get phone calls but that those leads are “just calling around,” that they “don’t have any money,” or that they’re “not serious.” These attorneys then spend more money to get more phone calls. This approach is a one way trip to the bankruptcy court. Instead, these attorneys need to focus more on conversions and, just as importantly, turning one phone call into multiple clients. Let’s look at each of these ideas.

Multi-million dollar law firms do a better job of converting marginal calls into clients

I’ve written often on how attorneys can rapidly increase business by focusing on conversions. Many firms, however, think the problem is in the “quality” of the calls they get and not in how they handle those phone calls. The truth of the matter, however, is that the truly successful lawyers do not get more calls from people saying “I would like to schedule a consultation and money is no object.” The truly successful firms are, in fact, much better at turning those marginal leads into consultations and retainers. In other words, the good firms sign up the people who many attorneys say are “just calling around” an who “have no money.” In other words, the good firms get more out of the phone calls they’re already getting.

I’ve written a lot on the idea of conversions. A recent experience, however, really put this in perspective. It’s very, very, very, very (very) seldom that I mention something personal in my writing – but this drives the point home. My wife (who still laughs at just under fifty percent of my four jokes after our years of marriage) has a doctorate in clinical psychology. She decided that therapy wasn’t her bag. She recently got licensed as a real estate agent and is really enjoying it. The story of her first sale may be the ultimate example of turning marginal calls into clients. As you probably know, agents work off of commissions. She received a call from someone who essentially asked her to show them a house so their friend, who was also an agent, could write an offer on it (apparently the friend didn’t want to take the time to show it). In other words, she was asked to take her time to help sell a house for which someone else would get the commission. My better half said she was happy to do it. When she went to the showing, she took a printout of other homes that were similar to the one being viewed, just in case the individual didn’t like the one they were viewing. The short and skinny of it is that my wife wound up selling the person a house and making a commission off of it. I’ve told this story to a few different attorneys, each of whom responded “I probably wouldn’t have even called someone back if they called me with something like that.” This buyer had already been rejected by several realtors as to her request for them to show her a house, just so someone else could make the commission. In other words, my wife took a marginal phone call, provided above average service, and turned it into a sale.

I can cite many examples of instances I’ve seen where attorneys quickly grow revenue simply by changing how they handle the calls they’re already receiving. To keep this article from becoming War and Peace, I’ll spare you from repeated storytelling. I spent a significant amount of time, in my “30 days to a better law firm” series, discussing how lawyers can convert more of the calls, which they already receive, into clients. A few of those articles are linked to here:

Just remember – many of the clients who are “calling around” are doing so because they haven’t spoken with a firm who was able to get them in the door. Also, surprisingly often, someone saying that “they don’t have any money” can mean that they have the money, they’re just not going to give it to the firm they just spoke with. The multi-million dollar firms understand this and they do a better job of converting those marginal leads.

Multi-million dollar law firms convert one phone call into multiple clients

Multi-million dollar practices exceed their competitors in a key area – they turn one phone call into multiple clients. The way they do this is simple. they provide their current clients with the highest level of service. They then ask those clients to leave positive online reviews. This, in two ways, leads to clients the attorney otherwise would not have had. Let’s look at each of these two ways.

Providing your client with a level of service, which exceeds that of other firms, does one important thing. It turns them into a referral source. Do a great job for client “A” and they will refer you “B.” Do a great job for B and now A and B are both referral sources. This leads to additional referrals and so on and so on. Ask yourself this simple question – how many attorneys do you know that spend more time talking about how to market themselves than they do talking about how they can provide better service to their clients? Successful firms don’t focus on getting thirty phone calls so they can have thirty clients. Their first focus is on their existing clients and their second focus is on an issue such as marketing. The best source of other referrals isn’t other professionals (such as a bail bondsman who may refer someone to a criminal attorney), it’s your former clients. So, give yourself a simple test. That test is to ask yourself if the number of referrals you receive from former clients is going up every year. If it’s not then your customer service policies/procedures need work.

I recently corresponded with a criminal defense attorney who has built up a substantial record expungement practice. He said about twenty-five percent of cases coming in the door are referrals from former clients. That shows the importance of quality service. These articles offer up some steps that will help to improve the client experience:

There’s another way in which providing a top notch client experience leads to additional clients. Those who receive a quality experience are then more willing to leave you a good review. It amazes me that so many attorneys don’t recognize that they need good online reviews. Those who do recognize this, and build up their reviews, will get “X” number of phone calls from “Y” amount of traffic while those without reviews will get less than X even though they still have Y traffic. In other words, you would be getting more phone calls if you got good reviews. Those reviews require the provision of quality service to your clients. Here are some tips on how attorneys can get more online reviews.

In sum, high quality service leads to an exponential growth in your referral business as well as improved conversions of the web traffic you already get. This is how firms get to the next level. In my next article I’ll touch on a crucial point that most firms miss – the need to leverage technology.

Why do you feel that so many firms fail to focus on conversions and providing quality service to their clients? Please chime in through the comment form below.