#1. You must have a dedicated intake specialist
One of the things we have learned from our Rainmaker Intake University™ program is the need for a culture shift in law firms so that the individuals responsible for doing the work are not the same people who interview and sign up prospects. Never have your paralegal answer the phone. Their responses to a prospect's questions are curt and direct with no rapport building.
Why? Because they see answering the phone as an interruption that keeps them from doing their work. Plus they don't want more clients because more clients means more work and they don't make more money for more work. By the way, associates can be even worse.
As much as possible, you want to build a "firewall" between the people who sign up clients and the people who are actually doing the work. You don't want people handling your intake process who have a customer service or technical / legal background; you want people who have sold stuff over the telephone. You need rainmakers - people who are dedicated to getting prospects from being just a prospect to being a paying client.
No attorney or paralegal will go after a lead with the kind of persistence and dedication it takes to convert them. 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 wasting your money on generating 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! 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.
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 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 an email address or cell phone number, enters it into the system, and that person is immediately sent an educational email (or a series of text messages with links). That email can encourage them to set an appointment, educate them further about your firm, include some testimonials from other clients, offer a free consultation, or whatever you want to happen next.
The same process can be put in place for leads that you capture through your website, blog, live chat program, or social media posts. An automated marketing system also enables you to implement a drip marketing email or text campaign that guides your prospects along the path towards becoming a 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 without any intervention from busy attorneys and paralegals. You must send a minimum of 3-5 emails or text messages in addition to making phone calls.
#3. Your intake specialist must call them 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. Two more calls should be made the next day, 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 track every single lead
Once a lead comes in, someone has to be tasked with keeping track of the lead status so leads do not fall through the cracks. Lost leads are 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. People do not like lawyers who they call and never hear back from. 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. 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.
#5. You must have software to manage leads
Once you start getting more than 30 or more leads per month it becomes difficult to keep track of all of them manually. That's when 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 great benefit. 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. 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.
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 missed 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 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.
If you would like to find out more information about the Rainmaker Lead Conversion System and automated marketing software we customize for clients I invite you to sign up for a complimentary strategy session with one of our trained Rainmaker Law Marketing Consultants by calling 888-588-5891 or filling out this form.
If you'd like to learn more proven strategies for business development, I invite you to attend a Rainmaker Retreat, our two-day law firm marketing workshop. We have sessions every month around the country - go to RainmakerRetreat.com to check the schedule.
We have helped over 18,000 attorneys across the nation discover the secrets in building a financially successful and personally satisfying legal practice and we would love to have your law firm be our next success story!