This is a special guest blog from Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute. Make sure to check out the upcoming The Rainmaker Retreat in Tampa Florida on Match 24 - 25. Register today...
The success or failure of your law firm in the next year will not be determined by the quality of your services. It will be determined by you and your team’s ability to convert every possible lead into a paying client. Since 1999, it's been our privilege to work with over 18,000 attorneys to help them generate and convert more prospects into paying clients. One of our primary findings is that your lead generation efforts will be wasted unless you have an automated system to nurture them and a team that can convert them. “I don’t have time” is no longer a valid excuse with the marketing automation software that’s available today. “I can't afford to hire anyone to help with the leads” is not an option, especially when you see what a difference the right person can make.
The average consumer attorney only converts 5-15% of their leads into paying clients (out of 100 leads they sign up 5-15 new clients)! However, by using a systematic approach to lead conversion, you can increase your lead conversion rate to 25%—35%--even 55%. Translated—that means you can double or even triple your revenues without getting any more leads than you're already getting!
Here are six steps you need to implement in order to improve your intake and lead conversion rate:
1. You must have a dedicated intake specialist.
One of the things we have learned from our Rainmaker Intake University™ program (www.RainmakerIntake.com) is the necessity for a culture shift to occur in law firms so that the individuals responsible for doing the work are not the same people who interview and sign up prospects. We have seen this mistake being made over and over again at law firms: the phone rings and your paralegal answers. Their responses to a prospects questions are curt and direct with no rapport building. If they collect any contact information, it's minimal. If they set an appointment, that’s great, but if they don’t, who cares. Why? Because they see answering the phone as an interruption to their day. It keeps them from doing their “real work.” Plus they don’t want any more clients because more clients means more work for them and they don’t make any more money for doing more work. By the way, associates are usually worse. Partners are ok, but they usually try to answer every question posed with a lengthy, detailed response, they give away free legal advice, tend to overeducate prospects, and try not to come across as too “salesy.” These are all a recipe for disaster! No attorney or paralegal will go after a lead with the kind of persistence and dedication it takes to convert them. As much as possible, you want to build a “firewall” between the people who sign up clients and the people who actually do the work.
In our experience of secret shopping over 2,500 law firms we have found that most firms have the wrong people answering calls from potential clients. To grow your firm and convert more leads you need a sales person answering the phone. Yes, I said a sales person. You should call them an Intake Specialist, but their job is to “sell” that prospect on why they cannot do it on their own, why you are the right bankruptcy firm for them, and why they should come into the office for an appointment. If you are getting over 20-30 leads per month, you need to hire a dedicated Intake Specialist and train them to go after leads like a pit bull. If you don’t have the right person answering prospect calls then you are just wasting your money trying to generate more leads.
2. You must have a sense of urgency when following up with every lead.
Research by Velocify.com indicates conversion rates drop precipitously if you fail to follow up within five minutes after a lead comes in. The same study found your lead conversion rate drops by half if your first follow-up attempt increases from five to 10 minutes! You must train whoever answers your phone to have a sense of urgency when following up with leads. When it comes to conversion every minute counts!
Another study by InsideSales.com showed that 35-50% of sales go to the first company who responds to a lead and if you follow up with a lead within five minutes, you’re nine times more likely to convert them.
Fast follow-up is a real stumbling block, especially for solos and firms who rely on attorneys to return a call or email inquiry. This is the first mistake. NEVER have an attorney (or a paralegal) responsible for following up! You may want to, you may intend to, but it rarely happens immediately because of your workload. So what to do? Hire the right people and automate the follow up process! You simply cannot be consistently good at lead conversion unless you have a system in place that sends your prospect an immediate message (text or email) responding to their inquiry.
Every contingency can be planned for in advance with an automated marketing system. A prospect calls in, a staff member obtains a cell phone number or email address, enters it into the system, and that person is immediately sent an educational email or a video or a series of text messages with links. That information encourages them to set an appointment, educates them further about your firm, includes some testimonials from other clients, offers a free consultation, or whatever else you want to happen next. We put the same process in place for our clients when they get leads from their website, blog, live chat program, and social media posts.
An automated marketing system enables you to implement a drip marketing email or text campaign that guides your prospects along the path towards becoming a new client. If they miss their initial appointment, this triggers a series of emails or texts encouraging them to reschedule. If they don’t sign with you after the initial meeting, another series of emails or texts prods them to take that step. All of this can be done with the “click of a button” and without any intervention from busy attorneys and paralegals.
3. Your intake specialist must call every lead a minimum of 7-10 times before giving up.
No, that is not a typo. If you want to convert leads, you will have to work harder than your competitor! There should be three calls made the first day: one within five minutes, a second call within about an hour and the third by the end of the day. Three voice mails should be left (not the same one). Two more calls should be made the next day and two more messages, then two more the day after that, then ideally one per day for the next two-three days. Obviously, if you reach the person and disqualify them on call number two or if the prospect indicates they have already hired a different attorney then you don’t continue to call them.
The reason for this multi-call approach is simple and backed by powerful research showing that:
- 44% of sales people (your intake person) give up after one follow-up (Scripted)
- The average sales person only makes two attempts to reach a prospect (Sirius Decisions)
- 80% of sales require five follow-up phone calls (The Marketing Donut)
4. You must send prospects 3-5 emails or text messages in addition to the phone calls.
These emails/text messages should be educational in nature and subtly inform them of why they should call you and set up an appointment. When you consistently communicate with prospects and give them practical, relevant information, you build the “know, like and trust” factors that can lead to business for you down the road when they are ready to buy.
The first email may consist of a simple "Thank you for contacting us. Here’s a link to our website (or a video) for more information." The second email may be "There are 10 questions you must ask any bankruptcy attorney before you hire them to take your case. Here’s the first two questions…"
On average, people require at least 7-10 meaningful touches to move from being interested in you to being ready to buy from you. Most attorneys stop after one, two, or three touches because they falsely believe they are "bothering" or "chasing" the person. There is plenty of evidence that people are always busy and persistence in your follow up will win you way more clients than hoping that prospects will call you back. As long as you are professional and courteous in your voicemails, text messages and emails, the vast majority of people will perceive your persistence as caring about them and wanting their business, not bothersome.
5. You must track every single lead.
Once a lead comes in, someone must be tasked with keeping track of the lead status so leads do not fall through the cracks. Lost leads are lost opportunities and are akin to leaving money on the table. They also hurt your reputation with your referral sources if they supplied the referral and you didn’t follow through on the lead. People do not like lawyers who they call and leave a message only to never hear back from the attorney. Many of them will go so far as to leave you a negative review online if you don’t get back to them in a timely fashion. The only way you can be sure your team is following up with every lead is to track every single one of them religiously!
You must have a dedicated system for lead tracking and it must be consistently used. We saw this last week when we secret shopped a client’s office. His top paralegal did a great job answering the phone, answered several of our questions, build rapport with us, but never asked for our name, phone number or email address! It would literally be impossible for our client to follow up with that lead since his paralegal never obtained any of our contact information. This happens all the time!
A good lead tracking system should:
- Capture a prospect’s contact information.
- Ask a few basic qualifying questions to see if the firm might be interested.
- Track conversion rates: How many of these leads turn into appointments? How many of your appointments show up? How many sign up at the initial consultation? How many sign up afterward?
- Track the disposition of the lead: Who was responsible for follow up? Did it convert? If it was a referral was the referral source thanked?
- Set the appointment.
By tracking your leads, you can discover the disconnects in your intake process and fix them.
6. You must have software to manage leads.
Once you are consistently getting more than 30 or more leads per month it becomes difficult to keep track of all of them manually, especially if your Intake Specialist is making all the follow up phone calls, text messages, and emails. That’s when automated software can make a huge improvement in your conversion rates. Most of the small firms we consult with have a finite amount of time to dedicate to legal marketing, so having an automated marketing software system in place that nurtures a lead along the path to becoming a client is a game changer.
Consider these facts:
- Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Gartner Research)
- Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. (ANNUITAS Group)
- Companies that nurture leads make 50% more sales at a 33% less cost than non-nurtured leads. (Forrester Research)
First, you should identify the right software to assist in automating the lead management process. The more you can automate this, the lower your costs will be. Tracking software is readily available at a relatively low cost, compared to the expense of doing it manually. Good client-tracking software can be shared across multiple computers and can generate easily interpreted reports for the firm’s decision makers. The automated software we implement for bankruptcy firms does all of this and more.
Second, automate the firm’s follow-up process. Develop follow-up sequences for:
- Direct mail – What used to be a very labor-intensive process can now be highly automated in a way that doesn’t adversely impact busy lawyers’ schedules.
- Autoresponder text messages and/or emails – Develop a series of email messages to be sent at regularly scheduled intervals that can convey your messaging in a timely manner to your prospects. You can develop autoresponders for every phase of the lead nurturing process, including emails for when a prospect calls and doesn’t make an appointment, when someone misses an appointment, and when a prospect fails to hire you after the initial consultation.
- Phone call follow ups – Develop a schedule of calls so that leads don’t fall through the cracks. Some of the tracking software can automatically place them into a calendar for your intake team to follow up.
If you would like to find out more information about the Rainmaker Lead Conversion System and automated marketing software we customize for clients, we invite you to give us a call and set up a demo. If you really want to make your lead generation efforts pay dividends, you simply must become better at lead conversion. It is one of the least expensive yet most financially rewarding things you can do to quickly boost your revenues.