More Clients through Better Intake

Think for a moment about how a legal consumer changes from an interested prospect to your client.

They reach out, you discuss their needs, and after gaining their trust they decide to retain your services. But how many prospective clients never speak to anyone in your firm? The truth is that for every client that goes through this simple process another falls through the cracks. If you don’t have proper intake procedures in place it’s tough to understand why.

Many attorneys believe losing or gaining new prospects is a game of chance.  They feel it’s based entirely on the ‘quality’ of the lead, not what they are doing after a potential consumer contacts their firm. While it’s true that some of it is out of your control, studies suggest that up to half of bringing on new clients is determined by your intake process.

Don’t prejudge prospects

I hear from many attorneys who have trouble finding ‘quality’ prospects. Whether it’s a short email, phone message or even a drop in, attorneys sometimes prejudge their leads or incorrectly prioritize them too quickly. Keep in mind that potential clients may not know what information they should communicate or that they may even be contacting you on behalf of someone else.

Remember that these are ordinary people possibly going through an extraordinarily stressful time. Pay attention to how you respond to them so that you’re sending a message that encourages trust and loyalty. Let them know who you are, explain why you are reaching out and show empathy. I have seen many cases where attorneys failed to communicate these simple messages and it led to prospects denying that they ever tried contacting the firm.

Beyond an open mind, be responsive

Response time can be tricky for a lot of attorneys, especially in small law firms. You only have so many hours in the day and your responsibilities to current clients take up most of your time. But new prospects want to hear from you quickly. Remember that legal consumers often select the first law firm they speak with. By not responding quickly enough, you could literally be costing yourself clients.

I’ve also noticed that the most successful law firms contact their prospects as soon as possible. If they are unable to reach the prospects or make the call themselves, they have backup processes in place because they understand just how critical response time is in making that initial contact with potential clients.

Stick with it

Now I know this is all easier said than done. But bear in mind that your prospect could be just as busy as you, but with their own obligations and stressors. There’s a very real chance that, faced with an unknown phone number calling them, they won’t simply drop everything to answer your call. Still, I know way too many attorneys who will not follow up after one missed phone call and one voicemail. If you reach out to a prospect and they don’t answer, don’t give up. It’s probably safe to assume that they have other things going on in their lives but you cannot assume that they’re no longer in need of your services.

Firms that have a quality intake program are dogged in their response attempts. Many keep attempting to reach leads for as much as six missed phone calls. Even then, they will have sent multiple emails and in some cases even a letter. It may seem pushy, but creating a regular system that doesn’t abandon prospects when the going gets tough will help you convert more of them into clients than ever before.

Keep in mind that you have more control than you think when it comes to prospects. An open mind and a structured intake program – one that tracks contact attempts, time lines and results – will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to bringing in new clients.


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