How Can I Improve the Effectiveness of My Law Firm’s Intake Process?

When it comes to converting leads into customers, small law firms do a lousier job of it than most any other type of business.

In addition to the dozen years we have helped hundreds of lawyers generate leads only to see them mis-handle those prospects, we back up our statement with these two pieces of recent research.

A. No Engagement Device

The primary goal of a website is to capture contact information and build a list of prospects, for most of your visitors will not be ready to take immediate action. When researching our book The Most Effective Law Firm Marketing Agencies, we reviewed the websites of well over 1,000 high-ranking law firms. Less than a dozen offered a lead magnet.

B. Failure to Respond

We completed the website response forms of 25 local lawyers, claiming to have a sizable and urgent legal issue. Only 3 of the 25 called us. The vast majority didn’t even bother to telephone.

Lots of Upside

The positive side of this dismal marketing performance is that your firm, if it is like most small law firms, can provide a material boost to its flow of new clients simply by improving your intake processes.

Here are the seven high-impact intake-improvement steps that we recommend you take. Once set up, none of them should require any material time from you.

1. Periodic Monitoring or Mystery Shopping

Unless you regularly monitor both sides of your intake calls, you won’t know whether your prospects’ calls are being handled with compassion, patience, and purpose. Most important, do they obtain full contact information, learn details of the matter, and set an office appointment?

There are two ways to achieve this monitoring. You can engage a mystery shopping service to periodically call and complete forms, and report their experience back to you. The more modern way is using software (we like Dialpad) which allows you to (a) listen to both sides of any call, (b) at a glance learn the length of each call (a material percentage of short calls is worrisome), and (c) see which calls went unanswered.

2. Dedicated, Rewarded, and Motivated Phone Person

Whoever is answering your phones and responding to your completed website forms should have no higher priority than setting office appointments with as many of the qualified prospects as possible. That priority handling needs to be regularly confirmed with words and financial incentives.

Having hired dozens of phone-team members, and overseen multiple inbound and outbound phone teams, we can confirm that it takes a high degree of empathy, positivity, and confidence to work the phones day after day. Be sure you have the right individual in this very important position.

3. Minimum Follow-up Call Requirements

One of the most common shortcomings we encounter in the intake processes of small law firms is the failure to repeatedly call prospects until a connection is made. The first law firm to have a conversation with a prospect is most often the one who lands the office appointment.

Of course, the fewer prospects you have to call back, the better, so adequately staffing your phones is important. But when a form is submitted or the initial call is not taken live, prompt and repeated attempts to call back must be made. We recommend at least 3 attempts the first day, and 2/day thereafter.

4. Automated Sales Funnel

If your firm’s website does not offer some helpful information using a popup activated when the visitor is readying to leave your site, you are missing a sizable opportunity to engage and convert more visitors than you do now.

A well written and complete sales funnel will include (a) an information offer, (b) a request for contact information, (c) a couple questions asking about the size and urgency of the legal problem, (d) a thank you page offering a phone conversation to discuss the details of the prospect’s legal matter.

5. Shock-and-Awe Package

Assume your prospect has also contacted two of your competitors. Even if your prospect has scheduled an appointment with your office, you can bet that your competitors are also reaching out. To counter their efforts, you will want to stand head and shoulders above them.

By creating an impressive collection of helpful materials one time, and having it automatically sent to every new prospect, you will set yourself apart. And with soft prospects like booklet downloaders, you can call them, explain that you want to send your package of information, ask about their legal issue, and offer an office appointment if they are a qualified prospect.

6. Nurturing Series

In addition to your shock-and-awe package, every prospect should next receive a staggered collection of educational emails. This is also a write-once, use forever endeavor.

Your emails should address: common prospect and client questions, explain the primary legal issues, list the pros and cons of choices to be made, and discuss potential outcomes. Doing so will demonstrate your expertise and show you are ready to help.

7. Results Tracking.

What is measured and incentivized will improve. If you track and publicly display your lead conversion rate, and tie bonuses or prizes to hitting conversion targets, you will turn a higher percentage of prospects into clients.

We recommend separating form fills from inbound calls, and setting different targets for each. Form fills can be tougher to convert, for they require prompt and repetitive phone calls to reach the prospect.

High ROI, Low Spend

Conversion improvements can generate a high return and frequently cost little to implement. The extra revenue generated usually drops unimpaired to the bottom line, for you are signing additional clients while not spending any more marketing company.

Of the seven techniques listed above, we recommend you focus most heavily on #2 Minimum Follow-Up Techniques. The cost is zero, and the return is immediate and high value.

Secondarily, we suggest #7 Results Tracking. If you are not measuring your key performance indicators, you do not know whether you are improving or falling short.

No matter which techniques you choose to begin with, we strongly encourage you to pay more attention to improving your conversion rates. There is little you can do in marketing your firm that will have a higher return on investment.

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