The 3 Pillars of Growing Your Law Firm: Pillar 3

Closing sales isn’t about scripts or fancy methods. Most lawyers can improve their closing rates by simply optimizing what they are already doing. We’re going to show pure efficiency and allocation methods that we employ in our legal marketing and that directly impact sales.

The 3 Pillars of Growing Your Law Firm: Pillar 3

In this blog series (which was based on individual webinars originally released to our Facebook group audience that you can find here), Elliot Alicea, the co-founder of the legal marketing agency Empirical360, discusses the 3 pillars of law firm growth. This blog will focus on pillar 3: the ability to close business.

For the last two weeks, we have been talking about the pillars that support every law firm’s growth.  All three pillars must be present in order for a law firm’s marketing to be successful! The first is having a predictable lead source. The second pillar is quality intake and follow up. The third pillar, and the one we’ll be explaining today, is the ability to close business. Though the first pillar is arguably the most important, law firm growth would collapse without the other two, and if the first two pillars were present but the third was not, law firms wouldn’t be able to finish their sales process and retain clients, and growth would be stunted.

Closing sales isn’t about scripts or fancy methods. Most lawyers can improve their closing rates by simply optimizing what they are already doing. We’re going to show pure efficiency and allocation methods that we employ in our legal marketing and that directly impact sales.

Let’s dive in and start by breaking down an attorney’s pipeline.

Your pipeline is the stages prospective clients go through to become cases. (Piplines aren’t “real”, but are abstract concepts). It is important to note that clients move themselves along the pipeline - they are the ones taking the action, and ultimately, whether or not they move to the next stage is up to them. You are not dictating the action.

Here’s an example attorney pipeline:

Step 1 - Free Consultation. The client takes the first step of requesting a free consultation from you.

Step 2 - Paperwork Signed. If the free consultation goes well, you may send them paperwork to sign. The client signs it and makes the decision to work with you.

Step 3 - Invoice Paid. The client decides to pay the invoice and officially retain your services.

Step 4 - Client Won/Lost. Depending on how the case plays out, in a CRM you would note the client as won or lost (did you successfully resolve their case or not - this step is dependent on you).

Pipelines are shaped like a funnel, because more people will come in for free consultations than will sign paperwork, pay their invoices, and successfully have their cases resolved.

What’s the point of that example? To show you that your pipeline consists of multiple steps, which means that you have multiple opportunities to optimize. If you’re closing at 10%, don’t just accept that as the best you can do. Taking the time to break your pipeline down into its individual steps, you would be able to spot the nuances in the different steps and then treat them differently. Analyzing your pipeline’s individual stages is the key to closing more business.

Take two nearly identical pipelines. They both start with 100 leads, and funnel down to 80% of contracts sent and 90% of invoices paid. However, one funnel gets 20% of leads to book consults, while the other funnel gets 40% of leads to book consults. The funnel with 20% consults gets 14 clients; the funnel with 40% of clients gets 28 clients. If you have a problem getting consults, that can heavily impact the success of your pipeline.

You don’t need to completely transform your infrastructure; you just need to look at the data and make adjustments.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about each stage in the pipeline process:

1) Are you getting enough consults?

Connection rate is the first place to look when it comes to optimization. Let’s say you get 100 leads a month and book 10 new consultations. Your consult attendance/booking rate is 10%. That seems great! But suppose out of those 100 leads, you only connected with 20 people. Your adjusted consult rate is actually 50%! Imagine if you were to improve your connection rate by just connecting with 20 more people; if 10% of those booked consults, you see how your funnel would grow. Improving your connection rate can vastly improve your consult & closing rates.

So how do you improve your connection rate? You can call people more. It doesn’t sound appealing, but it is effective. We work with one attorney who calls every single day for two weeks straight after initial contact is made. Texts and emails are less invasive, but still effective, ways to remind people to book consults. Remarketing ads also are a great resource to use to improve connection rates. Have you ever gone to Amazon to look at a product, and now that product is all over your Facebook feed and the rest of the internet - it seems to be following you around? That’s remarketing at work. When someone visits your website and books a consult, you have the ability to follow a person around on the internet and social media pages with ads, again gently reminding them that you exist and that you can offer them help for their problem. Doing all four of these things (phone calls, text messages, emails, and remarketing ads) is nearly guaranteed to improve your connection rate, and consequently, your ultimate closing rate.

If you are consistently not booking consults, or if you find yourself exhausting your efforts trying to get new clients to come “in the door” (so to speak - we know more lawyers are doing phone or Zoom consults right now than anything else), it might be time to experiment with a free or reduced consult, especially if your competition is offering one, to see if you can improve consult attendance rates that way. Many lawyers shy away from free consults because they don’t want to spend time with people who aren’t serious about retaining their services, but charging a small fee, like $50, or reducing the time of the consult, like offering a free 15 minute consultation, can weed out those types of clients. Note that you do not have to offer a free or reduced consult forever, but if you are struggling to close business, this can help fill your pipeline.

2) Is your agreement being signed enough?

Step 2 in the pipeline process is getting documents signed. We’ve heard from some lawyers that they are sending out agreements and just not getting anything returned. If that’s happening to you, you need to find out why - something is wrong with this process. Maybe documents are always going to their spam folder instead of their inbox, or maybe the signing process isn’t easy for the user to do. Maybe it’s not mobile-friendly, or maybe it simply looks too intimidating. Maybe it’s confusing, or maybe it doesn’t seem secure. Maybe the problem is that you’re not following up enough on this particular stage in the funnel, and a text/email reminder here would be appropriate (which can be sent automatically if you have a CRM with pipeline workflows, like we talked about in pillar 2).

Whatever the reason, you need to investigate each potential problem, and then test in order to improve the signing rate.

3) Are they paying for your retainer?

Problems with this step are less frequent than with step 2, but it still happens; clients come to a consultation, sign documentation, but never get around to paying. Part of this problem could be a quality problem - perhaps they don’t have the resources to afford your fees - but it is likely you would figure that out before or during a consultation. If there are other problems, it could be because your clients don’t feel that your payment process is safe and secure in its current online format. Perhaps you need to experiment with financing or payment plans. And as with the other two steps, your follow-up for this step can affect the rate of clients who do pay.

4) Can you monetize “lost” clients in any way?

Look outside of the funnel for a second and ask yourself about the clients who aren’t in the funnel. Consider your clients who are no-gos, the clients who come in for a consultation but don’t sign. This won’t work for every practice area, but many lawyers could re-work these leads with an automated drip series and still make money off of these clients. Maybe the timing wasn’t right for them to hire you initially, or they just didn’t have the money, or their other circumstances weren’t quite right. If you keep in contact with them through an automated email/text series (maybe once a month) you may be able to reharvest those leads and turn them into clients, or stay top of mind for them to refer you to other friends and family members who need your services, OR - and this is one of the best ways to monetize lost clients - refer them to other attorneys who might be a better fit, depending on the reasons why they didn’t hire you. This can help you build strategic relationships with other attorneys who may then in turn refer their lost clients to you.

5) What lead source is performing best, and are you allocating a worthy budget to it?

Let’s go back to the top of the funnel - leads. This is where it all starts, and it’s always good to look to the source in order to improve quality and quantity. If you have multiple lead sources, which you should, then they will undoubtedly be performing at different rates.

If you are familiar with the stock market, then you may know about the S&P 500 index. It is made up of a basket of stocks. These stocks will weight the index. The individual stocks perform at their own rates, and the overall index has an average of those stocks. One pull of the S&P 500 performed at an 18% return (during this timeframe). However, if you looked at the individual stocks, you would notice that certain companies yielded a higher return than the average...for example, Apple yielded a 31% return, Facebook yielded a 46%, etc. If you had invested into these stocks individually, you would have gotten a much higher return on investment.

The same concept applies to legal marketing and sales. For example, let’s say you have your marketing sources mapped out correctly, so you know which leads are coming in from where and how many sales are coming from those leads. Let’s say your Google Ads closing rate is 30%, your Facebook closing rate is 15%, your Avvo closing rate is 10%, and your FindLaw closing rate is 5%.  Your overall closing rate is 20%. If you were to start allocating your budget more effectively, or get rid of the lowest performing lead sources in order to put more money behind the best performing sources, your closing rate would improve. (If you don’t have a CRM, you can’t move money around as easily or as confidently).

Everyone should diversify their lead sources, but if you have a small budget and you need the most bang for your buck, moving more money to your best lead source will help you grow your pipeline.

6) What are your leads like, and are you treating them correctly?

Let’s talk about another aspect of lead quality called lead temperature. Referrals are hot leads ready to close. There is already a level of trust that has been built, so closing these leads should be very easy, requiring little effort on your part. Closing cold or warm leads will require more. These leads aren’t as predisposed to trust you, and you’re going to have to sell your firm to them.

If referrals have been your main source of leads forever, you may have developed a very “to the point” sales process that has worked for you. Now, if you try to throw Avvo leads into that sales process, it may not go very well because you are assuming that they have more knowledge of your firm and more trust in you than they actually do, and they are not teed up for the close. It’s important to take the temperature of your leads into account when optimizing your pipeline and address each type of lead (cold, warm, hot) differently.

In summary:

Even if you change nothing with your script, you can still make vast improvements by optimizing each step of your pipeline, including using automated tools to improve the sales process and tracking your lead sources so you can increase efficiency in your sales process.

We hope this series gave you actionable insights into supporting foundations of your marketing process! Have questions or want to learn more about growing your firm? Watch the original webinar or book a call with us to learn more.

Get in contact now with our specialist

Please enter your information and we will contact you. Once you fill out the form you will be taken to a calendar if you would like to book a call with us!