Selling Legal Services And The Dating Game – What You Can Learn To Win More Clients

There are perhaps more similarities between selling legal services and the dating game than you might first imagine. The crucial point is that these similarities apply whether you sell legal services to business or legal services to individuals.

 

Selling Legal Services And The Dating Game - What You Can Learn To Win More Clients
What you can learn from the dating game to enable you to sell more of your legal services.

Let’s look at each of the stages in turn.

1. The desire for romance

First, there is a need or a desire to find a partner. Someone decides that they no longer wish to be alone and that it would be nice to have someone else in their life.

In the same way, someone has a need or a desire for a legal service provider. They might have a pressing need, such as someone suing them or their business, or it might be a more gentle need, such as advice on Intellectual Property or data protection.

In both legal services and the dating game, it all starts with a need or a desire.

From here, there are one of two main paths that the person who is desirous of finding a partner can take.

2. Ask someone to help them

The first choice is to ask someone that they already know, like and trust to help them find a new partner. Close friends or colleagues may be asked if they know anyone who is single that might be suitable for them. After all, if the person knows them well, they will know what interests, passions and beliefs they hold and whether someone else they know might be a good match for them.

This is often option one when looking for a legal service provider too.

“Do you know any solicitors who could help me to set up my business/move house/deal with an employment issue?”

If a solicitor is doing a good job of promoting their legal services they will have a network of referral partners who regularly send new clients to them. They will consistently talk to people in their referral network to keep the relationship strong and will track all referrals from them into their business and also all referrals back to them to ensure that the relationship is reciprocal.

Referrals will also be obtained from present and past clients if two things occur:

  1. The solicitor provided an excellent service; and
  2. The solicitor keeps in touch with all clients old and new at least once every month to remind them of their existence. That way, when a friend or colleague asks if they know any good solicitors that they can introduce them to, the firm’s name is only a click to the inbox away.

Often, however, the friend or colleague is unable to introduce them to anyone suitable, either because they cannot think of anyone who can help (failure to follow point two above), or they do know someone but they weren’t that impressed with them (as a ‘person’ in the dating game or a legal service provider).

In this situation, the person with the ‘need’ has to take matters into their own hands.

3. Taking the search into their own hands

If the search above proves fruitless, the person in need of assistance must now take matters into their own hands. In the dating game, there are any number of websites that offer to find them the perfect partner. They choose one or two, enter some details about themselves and then wait to see who is presented to them as a potential match.

In the legal services world, the potential client is these days likely to be presented with two methods of finding a solicitor to help them.

  1. Use a ‘solicitor matchmaking service’; or
  2. Find a solicitor by carrying out their own search.

Option one, the newer choice, is very similar to the dating game. They enter some details about their needs into a ‘solicitor matching’ website and wait for a number of solicitors to come back to them. This has the benefit for the prospect of only having to enter the details once to then be presented with a choice of potential partners, but this in and of itself is the reason why it is far less attractive to the solicitor, because they now have to ‘pitch’ their services directly against their competitors. When the prospect has no better knowledge, what choice do they have other than to use ‘price’ as the deciding factor. It is for this reason that many solicitors realise that this method is a good one to avoid whenever possible.

Option two is the preferred method for the solicitor, because they know that with a little bit of consistent effort, usually outsourced, their firm can be presented to their perfect prospects many times every day.

The clients online search for a solicitor produces hundreds of results. Usually, the websites in the first few search results attract the most clicks, and if the solicitor does a good job when they visitor arrives at the website, they will be given the chance to win over the client.

However, as with dating, there are some very important steps to check off before the ‘initial interest’ leads to a more fruitful relationship for both parties.

4. Vetting the candidates

Whilst there may initially be excitement that a potential partner has been located, the next steps are critical, as all of the fears or concerns swimming around the mind of the person searching for a new partner must be checked off. Are they actually a good fit, do they share the same values, do they have a good sense of humour and do they actually like the person plus many other important questions that need to be answered.

You might think it is a completely difference scenario when choosing a legal service provider, but that simply is not the case.

Whilst many solicitors believe that one phone call should lead to one instruction, the reality is usually miles away, always down to the fact that the solicitor expects to be able to go straight from the first date to the consummation of the marriage, missing the many important steps that must take place along the way, such as:

  • The first date
  • The second date
  • The third date
  • The first kiss
  • Meeting the friends
  • Meeting the parents etc etc

In the same way, a prospect has to go through various stages before they will become a client for a firm of solicitors. So often, one or all of these steps are missed which means that the client goes elsewhere, often meaning that a solicitor has to talk to 10 prospects to land just one new client instruction.

In the same way that the dating person needs to be convinced that the new partner is a match for them, both from their own interviewing process (dating) and then with external proof (introduce to friends to vet, meet the parents to check back story) the solicitors’ prospects also want to ensure that the solicitor is absolutely right for their needs. After all, most people use a solicitor only a handful of times during their lifetime, so it is important that they choose the right one.

The good news is that the solicitors’ website can check off so many of the questions running through the prospects mind before the first conversation takes place:

  • Is this solicitor any good – reviews?
  • But are they really any good – case studies?
  • Are they really experts in this area of law – are their dozens of pages around the legal service in question, proving depth of expertise, or just one lonely page?
  • Does anyone else say that they are experts in this field of law – press coverage/specialist qualifications?
  • Any other proof – volume of people/businesses helped.

If all of these items are checked off on every page of a solicitor’s website (remembering that most people visit no more than two pages so don’t expect them to have to search for it) and the elephant in the room of “cost of initial enquiry” is also dealt with, the solicitor has a great chance of date night turning into wedding night.

Cut out all or any of these parts though, and the poor prospect is forced to go back on the open market to find the solicitor of their dreams.

Summary

So frequently I find that solicitors try to skip so many parts of the process on the journey from prospect to a new client. They want to go straight from the invitation to dinner being accepted to the wedding supper. It takes a little more effort than that – not a huge amount, but more.

It is a very simple processs, but a process it is nonetheless. It is therefore imperative that each legal service provider ticks off all of the requirements for each new client. Do this and do it consistently and you will convert more enquiries into new clients than most law firms.

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