Posted by Bernadette Bennett, commercial manager at Legal Futures Associate Moneypenny 
How to convert more leads into clients is a question every law firm would like to know the answer to. Every business, in fact, would benefit from understanding the secret of turning an interested party into a fee-paying client.
It doesn’t matter how many potential clients a firm may have, if the individuals working for the firm are not skilled in transforming them into clients, they could be losing these opportunities and therefore not delivering the return on investment on the firm’s marketing spend.
This was the topic of discussion in a recent series of events held by Professor Ian Cooper and Moneypenny, following the successful publication of the report Legal firms: Converting telephone enquiries into business.
The report received a surprising response from its readers as they realised that the solution to this situation is so simple they could put it into practice immediately. And yet so many firms are falling at this first hurdle.
Here are some of the tips Professor Ian Cooper shared during the events.
Check who is representing the firm. Each and every enquiry is important, so don’t demean the value of these enquiries by putting anyone other than your very best on the phone. It’s all too easy for us to forget the value of that initial contact from a member of the public. But for them, those first impressions – and the way they are handled – are absolutely vital for them to make a decision as to whether or not they will become your client.
A successful football manager wouldn’t dream of letting anyone other than his star striker take a penalty, and the same applies for a law firm’s telephone enquiries. Many firms see it as perfectly fine to let the office assistant handle all of their calls, but this could be leading to a negative first impression and a potentially lost client, as they may not yet have developed the skills needed to best handle the situation.
Take time to craft the quality of your calls. When a potential client calls, fairly often they’ll be in a stressed state, so it’s at this moment that you must handle them with care. To process their enquiry, the person taking the call will need to take a considerable amount of information, but this needn’t be reeled off in the manner of filling out a form – even if that is what the person on the end of the line is actually doing.
Try a little empathy. By making it a caring conversation rather than a clinical process of gathering details, the caller will be more receptive and willing to work with you. If the nature of the call regards an injury the caller has received, give a sympathetic comment. The caller may not even realise the affect it has at the time, but they’ll notice a formulaic reception to their enquiry.
Ask yourself ‘would I choose me?’ Take a look at your firm from the objective view of a potential client, and even go one step further and ‘mystery shop’ your firm. Call the firm’s number and see how your call is handled.
Take notes on how long it takes for the call to be answered, how friendly yet professional the greeting is, how efficient yet reassuring the person handling the call is, and when you hang up you feel confident that the firm is one with which you would be satisfied to do business.
All of these things go into creating the ideal first impression during a call. One which will convince the caller with the enquiry that this is the firm for them.
Be proactive during the call. Professor Cooper discussed how too many firms were ‘iffing’ their business away by not being proactive during the calls to their leads. A firm doesn’t want the caller to go away and think about whether to give them their business, but to be absolutely convinced during the call itself.
One way of achieving this is by using proactive language when speaking with the caller. Instead of saying ‘if we were to work with you’, say ‘when we work with you’, and so on.
This positive, affirming language goes a long way to persuading a caller that the firm they have enquired with not only wants their business but will start working with them right away. That the firm is so confident and reassuring there is no decision left to be made.
These may seem like the simplest methods of handling potential clients, but as we discovered during the events over the past month, a high proportion of firms are losing out on business by not undertaking these simple methods of call handling.
As discussed during the events, firms should be encouraged – not discouraged – to transform their front-of-house operations starting with the most basic of factors as the new client phone call. Taking small steps to consciously practice the methods outlined above will see transformational results take place.