Almost everything on the business side of your law firm is part of lead conversion. 

We handle them piece by piece. Marketing is a piece, the lead capture – answering the phones, getting them to answer forms, every contact method discussed in the previous blog posts in this series – every part of it is a piece. 

You push your ads and other content out there. How many people see them and then call you? That’s a conversion. How many of those calls turn into a consultation? That’s a conversion. How many of those consultations turn into a contract? Now that’s another conversion, and all of these conversions are very, very important.

Every part of your lead conversion flow should continue seamlessly from one piece to the next. Otherwise it won’t work.

You could be killing it with your marketing but if your communication channels are crappy, you won’t convert any leads. 

We covered contact and response in the previous blog posts. Now we talk about intake, payments, and referrals, which also take up a huge chunk of admin in law firms. 

A note on customer experience 

No matter where you go in the world, when you go to a Starbucks you go to a certain part of the counter to order, you can always have the same drink, or order something else you want to try, and you can customize it the way you want. 

And then you go to the other side of the bar and that’s where you pick up your drink, and you see the same options and tools to customize your drink further, sugar, creamer, other syrups and spices. 

It’s a very consistent experience at Starbucks. You can do that with your law firm, too. Anyone coming into your law firm, whether they’re new or a repeat customer, should have a reliable, consistent experience of responsiveness and efficiency. 

Why? People return to and refer their friends and family to businesses that they know will reliably deliver a service that they have come to expect.

This is why your process should be consistent and smooth. 

Intake 

Your marketing is intake. You’ve got your ads, online reviews, content, and emails that aim to generate leads for your firm in various platforms, whether it’s through your website or through traditional marketing like local newspapers. 

Communication is also intake. Your prospects call you, email you, or engage with your webchat. You determine who (or what, in case of chatbots) responds, and how they respond, using human and machine intelligence for efficiency. 

We discussed communication in the blogs before this one. In this blog, we will discuss the intake and how you handle new clients and bad leads. 

An Essential Question You Should Ask Upfront

Ask how they heard about you. People can easily forget how they heard about you or what they typed into Google, so this should be one of your first questions. Ask while it’s fresh in their minds and before their case drives it out of their thoughts as they answer your form about the case. 

You want to try to figure out what the actual exact keywords were that they used when searching for your firm. That is really valuable data. Ask about the contact information and where they heard about you, and then ask for their case information last. 

Even if they’re not qualified leads, you’ll still have information on how and where they found you, whether it’s through your ads, reviews, Facebook, etc. 

Your Content

You write the content once (an email, a mini ebook, a blog), you set the timing triggers (they went to this landing page, they signed up, they downloaded that other ebook, etc), and then deliver the content. 

This is a great way of making sure that people who do have consults with you actually convert when they’re ready. People have different decision making timelines based on the urgency or non-urgency of their matter. 

In the next 30 to 60 days, deliver your emails or calls without having them overlap, so you can determine which is having an impact where, and what to do more or dive deeper into, or make more changes. 

The Intake Form and Triggers

The initial contact should flow smoothly into lead qualification. To streamline your intake, you need to: 

  • Decide on the questions that help with self-screening, that help them decide whether they’re a good fit for your firm or not. 
  • Be specific about your required and optional fields, so there’s less noise coming in, and less follow-up required 
    • For example: Don’t ask, “What’s your legal matter?” Ask, “What’s your immigration law matter?”

Think: What makes them an ideal client for you? What disqualifies them? What actions trigger follow-ups? 

Being specific helps you delegate and automate your intake. Otherwise, you’ll always need to be consulted or you and your staff will always need to wade through a ton of non-qualifying messages. 

Your intake form empowers your staff to ask the right questions and place leads to the right workflows. 

The Trigger Workflows: 

  1. If they don’t qualify, you refer them to another lawyer or firm. 
  2. If they do qualify, empower the person who answered the phone/email/webchat to schedule the lead for an appointment with you, with all the questions/answers and prequalification you needed to make sure the lead is a good fit for your firm. 
  1. If they do qualify, but don’t sign up with you, you nurture them. You follow up. How? Usually via emails, which are easy to automate, and phone calls, which are easy to outsource. 

At the end of the day, you have real potential clients, instead of the usual pile of reading messages, trying to get back in touch with them and figuring out yourself if they’re a good fit. 

You employ both human and machine intelligence: the process and content in your nurture drips and phone calls is the human intelligence and the method– using MailChimp or MadMimi or MRI or some other system to follow up– is the machine intelligence. 

Human Intelligence 

  • Lead qualifying questions and intake forms 
  • Caller greetings 
  • Email content (from appointment confirmations to lead conversion drips) 
  • Handling bad leads (referrals; see below)

Machine Intelligence 

  • Having a good hosting for intake form  
  • Recording and tracking leads and clients 
  • The next steps after intake 
  • The next steps when the lead doesn’t convert (triggered workflows)

With these combined, you will have effective, fast, friendly, and accurate responses, which results in qualified leads and a better experience for your new clients. 

Outsource processes as much as possible. Inbound calls should trigger workflows, inbound emails and contact form completions should trigger callbacks and workflows. 

 

Standardize new-client questions

  • 5 to 10 questions
  • Question packets for each client group (family law, immigration law) 
  • Consider document upload/sharing options
  • Always ask lead for source: how did you hear about us

Streamline Appointment Scheduling, Reminders, and Check-Ins

You can also let your clients book their own appointments– one less thing for you and your staff– via a public-facing booking page on your website. If you want to dip your toe into this, Calendly is free. 

  • Integrate with your calendar

Make more or less visible according to your needs and intake preference:

    • accessible: lead is given the URL in your workflow or nurture drip (via text or email)
    • public: in the main menu of your site

Tools: 

Booking or appointment scheduling services, which vary in free and paid tiers:

  • integratable with payments and intake forms
  • multiple appointment types
  • booking with approval
  • multiple coworkers

Outsourcing: 

  • Outsource calendaring tasks via inbound and outbound calls
    • appointment booking
    • reminders 
    • rescheduling
  • Outsource non-confidential client check-ins to receptionist service
    • Specially helpful for busier periods. Be proactive. Informed clients are more satisfied.

Payments 

Payments are time-consuming and also the most easily outsourced. Payments can be simplified by accepting online payments, outsourcing collection, and accepting credit cards. 

You might be thinking, “more services, more fees.” However, the higher collection rate outweighs the fees.

Credit card payments and embedded payment channels on your site will result in a huge increase in the earnings you collect! This is especially important if you work with clients who don’t have consistent cash flow. The onus on collection is on the credit card agency, not on you. 

When you get payments completed with a credit card, you get money in the bank. 

The client not paying their credit card bill, they acquire interest or overdraft– it’s all on their side. It’s not on you to collect payment from cash, and this is a huge relief for your firm. 

  • Use Time Miner and ZipWhip to log texting time. 
  • Outsource, automate, or assign payment collections for: 
    • Consultations (prepaid, on your website)
    • Deposits
    • Retainers (look up automatic debit arrangement)
    • Invoices (online, PayPal, Freshbooks) 
    • Past-due payments

Referrals

Referrals is simply your method of handling bad leads. You still help them and send them on their way to lawyers or other professionals who can help them. That’s important. You’ll see below. 

We typically don’t recommend that you accept referral fees unless you’re actually doing some work. There’s a lot of information on this slide that you can dig into if you want more information. Building goodwill by referring your bad leads to other firms who match their case is something I really strongly recommend. 

But the other thing I recommend is taking the time to explain what your firm does to that bad lead before making that recommendation to the other firm or to a lawyer referral service.

Explain what you do do so that when they have a need or when they’re in their community or you know in a friend or family member’s house or with their colleagues at work, they keep you in mind because they actually know what you do with much better accuracy. They may be non-qualified leads, but they can be a referral source for you. 

Even bad leads are part of your conversion flow. 

Take a Hard, Honest Look at Where Your Time Goes

In this series with Maddy Martin, we’ve discussed: 

  • Communication Tools and Techniques
  • Intake, Payments, Referrals

All these high-level marketing techniques and tools may be overwhelming, but when you invest in these, it pays your future self back manyfold. So think about your future self and protecting that person when you go through this exercise and then prioritize these fixes. 

Track your time for one week

  • billable and non billable work 

Tag all non-billable work 

What can you do better? What’s eating your time and stopping you from earning better? Tag them with the following labels: 

  • Self (only you can do it: lawyering)
  • Streamline (cut/reduce/ease) 
  • Automate (software or app)
  • Outsource (w/service or team)

Prioritize fixes by greatest time consumption, importance (lawyering), and urgency

  • Lead qualification (communications) and payments are often the most time-consuming and most easily outsourced 
  • Data entry and followup are mostly easily automated

Address top 3 fixes you need in 30-60 days, depending on scope, cost and difficulty. Wait 1-2 months to re-stabilize. Fix or address another 1-3 per quarter. 

Assess the impact of fixes every quarter: savings, earnings, leads, clients, work/life balance, stress levels, sleep quality, etc. 

I always share tools with my community, and maybe Smith.AI’s receptionist and lead intake services will be a great starting point or perfect next step of growing your business. 

Code Nica50 gets you $50 off your first month in addition to a free trial and our 14-day money-back guarantee on our Keypad Club, our cloud phone system. Any questions, contact them at their website, Smith.AI I encourage you to reach out to Maddy Martin. 

I don’t believe in work-life balance because work is a part of life and all of this, the purpose of all of this is to have a life that you absolutely love, and that you’re crazy about and passionate about. You should be able to wake up every morning and say, oh my gosh, this life is the best thing I ever imagined. And you can really have that, the more that you outsource and the more that you automate. 

If you can believe it, I have even more knowledge to share on this topic! If you’d like to learn more about lead conversions, sign up for my Six Figure Solo program!  Six Figure Solo now comes in three tiers – Executive, Solopreneur, and CEO. Sign up here!