After 20 years of consulting with more than 20,000 attorneys on lead generation and lead conversion, we have found that the thousands of dollars many law firms spend on generating leads often go to waste for a lack of a singular key item: a good intake system.
When a prospect contacts your firm, your intake system is a key deciding factor on whether or not they will make an appointment. Over the years, we have secret-shopped hundreds of law firms. Frankly, a vast majority are terrible at intake. So much so that the mistakes we saw being made again and again led us to develop an intake training program for law firms that we offer as a part of our services.
Some law firms are starting to realize that they don’t need more leads. They need a better lead conversion system. Here are 12 intake best practices we teach law firm intake personnel for better lead conversion:
- Have at least one person whose sole job is intake. Through calling hundreds of law firms posing as a potential client, we were astonished by how many times the person answering our call act annoyed by the intrusion. You need someone performing intake as their primary job.
- Be empathetic and compassionate. Only about one-fifth of the firms we made secret calls to showed us any kind of compassion or empathy when we explained our problem. To convert, you have to connect. Not many firms are good at this.
- Take down a name and number at the beginning of the call. If you don’t get this important information upfront and get cut off, how do you call them back? You also need to get their email address during the call so you can continue to nurture the lead.
- Spell out the URL of your law firm website. Many prospects will ask for your website address. First, be sure your intake personnel know it (you would be surprised how many do not!). Then always spell it out for the caller — or even better, ask them if you can text or email it to them.
- Follow up! Failure to follow up on a request for information to be sent to a prospect via email or mail is a major sin! Be sure there is a process in place to follow up on these requests immediately after a call.
- Say your name. Many law firms answer calls with a generic, “Law firm!” All calls need to be answered with the proper name of your firm.
- Ask permission to place callers on hold. If you absolutely must place a caller on hold, ask them for their permission first.
- Differentiate! The caller doesn’t know you from the guy down the street. They need to know why they should hire you. Be sure your intake team can weave in 3-5 differentiating factors during every call.
- Be timely about returning voicemails. Voicemails should be followed up on within an hour or two of the prospect leaving a message.
- Never make an attorney or paralegal responsible for follow-up. A dedicated intake specialist should be tasked with following up on leads and booking appointments. Even with the best of intentions, legal professionals are busy with other things and will not prioritize follow-up.
- Do not quote fees over the phone. The main purpose of a call is to get prospects to book an appointment. Your closing ratio will always be better if you meet with them in person instead of trying to sell them over the phone.
- Build a relationship. People make buying decisions based on emotion. This is why it’s so important for your intake team to make a connection with each caller immediately. The best way to do this is to express empathy for their problems.