Right now – as you’re reading this – you might be sitting on a motherlode of new business that’s just waiting to be reeled in.
This goldmine consists of prospective clients who consulted with you but didn’t end up hiring you. How to convert them into paying clients? By following up with them.
Perhaps you’ve already done so. Maybe more than once. Keep trying. Maybe the third time’s the charm.
“All too often, lawyers drop the ball when it comes to effectively following up with prospects for fear of being judged as pushy or pests,” writes lawyer and business development guru Marla S. Grant in this ABA Journal article. “Persistence is key. If you fail to follow up, you take away their decision, and you could be robbing them of the opportunity to benefit from the value and services you provide.”
Lawyers Mutual is the only legal professional liability insurance company that has been protecting North Carolina lawyers continuously since 1977. Our motto, “Here Today, Here Tomorrow,” is more than a tagline. It’s our commitment to the lawyers in this state.
“When lawyers don’t hear back from a prospect, they often make up all kinds of assumptions—often based in fear—as to why the other person hasn’t responded, such as ‘They must not be interested; They will get annoyed if I keep following up; They will think I’m desperate; If they’re serious, they’ll respond or reach out to me,’” Grant writes in the ABA Journal piece. “By challenging assumptions, adopting a new mindset and using strategic approaches to follow-up, you can be much more effective and achieve better outcomes.”
Here are six ways to follow-up with prospects and former clients:
- Keep trying until you get a yes or no. “Even if your worst fear were true—that a prospect felt that you were a pest—then let that go, too,” writes Grant. “Realize that it’s their own issue or discomfort with business development, not yours.”
- Create follow-up categories and sub-categories. This tip is from attorney Yuliya LaRoe of 20/20 Leadership Group: “Before you can determine what type of follow-up will be the most efficient, you need to figure out what follow-up categories you have in your business. For example, you will have your current clients, former clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. You may want to subcategorize each category further based on level of priority of your follow-up. For example, your prospective clients can be divided into Hot, Warm and Cool Leads.”
- Send personal notes. “When it comes to bolstering connections with clients, handwritten notecards pack a big punch for a tiny price,” says Danielle Flagg in Attorney at Work. “Start small — say, one notecard to a lucky client per week — and work your way up from there as time allows.”
- Give them something of value. Some suggestions from Grant: “Send them an email with information or ideas about a topic you both discussed. Make an introduction to someone who could be beneficial to them. Seek their opinion on something. Invite them to an event. Offer to introduce them to someone you know is of interest to them.”
- Address what might be holding them back. LaRoe calls this sort of information “Pre-sale FAQs.” Examples: How much will it cost for our firm to represent you? Can we perform a case evaluation, and what will that cost? What outcomes might you expect in your case? Who in our firm will handle your case? How will we keep you informed as your case progresses?
- Develop email templates. “Use follow-up messages to reiterate key information (‘Here’s a link to the website we talked about’) or share additional information (‘I thought you might find these resources helpful’),” writes Flagg. “Even when you don’t have anything to add, a quick message to say ‘Thank you for taking the time to meet with me!’ builds rapport.”
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Today he helps lawyers and firms succeed through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations (www.yourlawlife.com). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441 to learn how Jay can help your practice.