How Law Firms Can Convert More Visitors Into Clients (Without Expensive Hires)
If you fret over every dollar you spend on marketing, you know the challenge that many legal firms face. You got into law to help people, not to stress over marketing campaigns or turn your law firm into a sales firm.
Fortunately, you can potentially improve all of your client intake by converting more leads into clients. And you don’t necessarily have to turn your business into a marketing machine, either. Here’s how to do it.
Understanding “Client Intake” and What It Means for You
You’re a lawyer. And your law degree certainly didn’t cover marketing and sales. But without an effective system for drawing in clients, you won’t have the business to practice law and give people the help they need.
To imagine why this is important, try to put yourself in the position of someone approaching a lawyer for the first time. They’re in a difficult position. They know they need legal help, but they’re inundated with possibilities for hiring lawyers, and they don’t know how to make that decision.
If you were in their position, wouldn’t you want to work with the legal firm that showed the highest commitment to service?
Remember: these people are often coming in cold. Consider that 62% of all legal searches are generic, such as “estate lawyer Milwaukee” rather than entering in a specific firm’s name.
Client intake is the art of making your legal firm not seem like just another name among many.
The Problems Many Legal Firms Have with Client Intake
We promise not to go too in-depth with the marketing terms. But one that’s really important for you to understand is “buyer friction.”
Friction refers to anything that might impede the customer’s—or in this case, the client’s—ability to make their decision.
With client intake, one principle you’ll want to keep in mind is this: the easier it is for the client to make the decision to hire you, the better you’ll do over time.
But what does that mean in practice? Let’s get specific with what many legal firms struggle with when attempting to improve client intake.
“Client Friction”: Overcoming Step Number One
Someone contacting a lawyer for the first time can be intimidated by the process. They not only have complex legal problems giving them headaches, but if they’ve never hired a lawyer before, they might really be struggling. You can succeed if you reduce client friction at every step of the process. What does this mean?
Think of it in the simplest terms possible:
- Avoid legal terminology on your website. Talk about client care. Talk about the benefits clients receive. Speak in simple terms. Use clear, short sentences. The easier your website is to read, the easier it is for someone to hire you.
- Use a virtual receptionist. A virtual receptionist at your website can guide someone to specific web pages if they ask a question. This reduces client friction because it acts as a shortcut between their questions and the pages with the answers.
Make Your Communication as Clear as Possible
A client is under stress. They need clarity and confidence, and they need it now. If your communications are clear and confident, it will only demonstrate that you have exactly what they need: the ability to see things from their point of view, and translate the legal world into something they can understand.
This isn’t to say you should be smarter than clients. You simply have to bring your specific expertise in this field in a way that’s accessible to people who don’t have that specific expertise. You accomplish that with clear, effective communication.
Your communication also has to be available. Do you pick up the phone when they call? Does someone at your firm answer an email when they send it? These small clues into how you handle potential clients will say a lot about how you act when you have paying clients.
Lack of Client Relationship Management
A legal firm can invest in software that makes it easy to track and communicate with potential clients, as well as long-term clients. So why haven’t you invested in any? If you haven’t, there’s a possibility that it shows. You’re a little slower to respond to people than you’d like. You postpone that client email because you know it’s going to take longer than five minutes, and you’ve only got five minutes until lunch.
It may not sound like it, but it adds up to a lot over the course of your work. And potential clients can tell. After all, they’re the only ones you’ll deal with who are also communicating with other legal firms at the same time. If you want to be impressive, invest in the software and systems that make client management easier.
How to Improve Your Client Intake
That all sounds well and good. But how do you achieve better client intake? What are the specific steps? Here are some things you can do to immediately improve your client intake given what we’ve said.
- Design a client intake system. Use a whiteboard. A pen and a pad. Whatever it takes. The point is that client intake is a system, and if you don’t design that system, you’ll never get control over it. Review your client intake process. Find where people are hitting the most hiccups. Brainstorm ideas to overcome those hiccups, such as directing people to an FAQ page about their specific cases, and then include a “contact us” form at the bottom of that FAQ page. If clients are having troubles with your intake process, there is a solution. You just have to identify what it is.
- Create a new standard of communication. You want professional, clear, effective communication at every step of the process. For example, at some point in your client intake system, you’ll get their email. What’s the next step? If it isn’t to immediately follow up with the client with a clear email asking them how you can help, then you have some improvement to do.
- Build honesty and transparency into your new system. One problem many legal firms have with client intake is that they’ll promise the moon just to close the client. Then the realities of the case become known. This is a bad practice, because it means that clients will inevitably come away disappointed with their experience, and they may not refer future work your way.
Optimizing Client Intake
- Run customer relationship management (CRM) software to handle new leads. Customer relationship management may take a little while to get yourself on board. But once you do, you’ll have a dashboard that lets you view all your current leads, which in turn helps you stay on top of every single communication.
- Improve your “closing” abilities. Ultimately, lawyers do have to be salespeople, to a limited extent. Consult with people and let them know exactly what you can do for them. Be generous with your time, be courteous, but remember that they’re looking for a lawyer. The “used car dealer” vibe won’t help you for client intake.
- Analyze your results and adjust. Once you have customer relationship management software helping you to track how many potential clients you turn into paying clients, you can start to get a sense of where your best client intake practices are working. You’ll also see where you can improve some areas.
Do You Have to Hire Anyone to Convert More Visitors into Clients?
No. CRM, a virtual receptionist—these are options that will require a little bit of investment to get the software going. But compared to hiring someone whose job it is to market your legal firm, they can be drastically less expensive. That means your legal intake can improve without you having to do a lot of extra work. Even better, you may not have to add a single employee.
Discover how much more legal intake professionals can do for your firm. Get in touch with Go Answer’s team of experts by calling 888-462-6793 or emailing us at email@example.com. For a free quote, visit us here.