What is holding you back?
A key challenge for start-up law firms has always been attracting and converting more clients. There are proven processes, but setbacks like not having enough time to tackle marketing or networking can quickly mount up, leaving firms unsure of where to start in building more business.
Other obstacles like fearing rejection, feeling like it’s not professional to ‘sell’, and not having the requisite skills to do so can also get in the way and result in an ever-growing list of missed opportunities. If you don’t like to sell, you must overcome that fear so you can gain control over your firm’s image and make sure your voice is the most prominent (and trusted) one. This is because, nowadays, consumers have less loyalty than ever, and potential clients can search and review you without even meeting you.
Marketing can solve these problems, but it also needs an effective strategy behind it as there are many interconnected attributes in a marketing campaign. If you don’t understand the process as a whole, you could end up spending too much (or little) on it. So what are the fundamental principles involved in marketing to new clients and converting enquiries into fee-earning clients? This article sets them out so that you can map the process with confidence.
What are the key principles of marketing for new clients?
The key to marketing is understanding exactly who your target client is and the reasons behind why they’d want to invest in your service in the first place. Without this knowledge, it’s impossible to tailor your message to those who’ll benefit from hearing it and reach the relevant audience through the right channels.
A great place to start building an understanding of who you should be targeting is by looking at your current client base. Who are the most profitable customers? Who do you get most of your enquiries from? What demographics do they fit into? From there, you can begin to segment your customer base and develop a more concise picture of your ideal customer in the form of a buyer persona
As part of your target client research, you first need to understand why your client is looking for your services, how important it is for them to solve their problem, and how much they are willing to pay to resolve it? Having a grasp of this information will mean you’ll have a better chance of reaching those who actually need your help and will benefit from your solution.
But how do you turn your understanding of your clients into an effective marketing campaign? While many processes are involved in putting a whole strategy into motion, the fundamentals are pretty straightforward.
These fundamentals include addressing why the client should choose you, showcasing what makes you different, educating your market about the problems they are ignoring and the issues that will ensue if they don’t act now, and highlighting the consequences of getting it wrong if they attempt it themselves.
Remember that people will always buy from people they trust, so your marketing needs to revolve around building that all-important credibility. To succeed in this, think about creating assets like white papers and explainer videos on the issues that matter to your audience the most, or organise webinars to educate them on issues that face them without giving away everything they’d need to do it all themselves.
What are the key principles to converting enquiries into fee-earning clients?
If your marketing efforts to reach new prospective clients are a success, you’ll start receiving more enquiries. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t simultaneously considering other options, so how do you convert them from a lead into a paying client?
The first thing to prioritise is getting a watertight CRM (customer relationship management) system into place so that every lead can be meticulously tracked from the moment of enquiry and no lead is left forgotten. Someone must be responsible for checking this system and following up with the enquirer to ensure they have everything they need to decide.
When you meet your enquirer for the first time, put in the time to find out more about their problem and what sort of help they are looking for. Please don’t give away too much free advice, but do use the time to identify and agree on a suitable process for helping them. Then at the end of the meeting, you can ask them if they want to proceed with the approved plan.
You’ll also need to ensure that the cost of solving their problem is less than leaving the problem unresolved to justify your help – so when talking with them, try to gauge how much the problem is costing or will potentially cost if they don’t get help.
In terms of structuring your sales conversation, the process is relatively simple:
1. Diagnose the situation
2. Find the pain (your prospective client’s problem)
3. Identify the implication or cost of not resolving it
4. Agree on the process for resolution
Remember, you have two ears and one mouth; use them in that order. Use open ‘What’ and ‘How’ questions to learn more. Only use closed questions to confirm information.
Finally, ask your enquirer how they want to proceed and then wait for a response, no matter how long the silence. Again, this creates a sense of pressure for the prospect to respond.
After every sales conversation, it’s helpful to review what went well and what could have gone better – from that analysis, you can develop and document a sales process that you are comfortable to use time and again.
The pressures of attracting and building up a reliable client base that produces sustainable growth for your start-up firm can feel daunting, but that pressure doesn’t have to be crippling. By following a proven process, the routine of marketing, selling, and maintaining business relationships quickly becomes second nature, and you’ll soon be able to sell with confidence.
If you lack the time and resources to manage it all yourself, there are plenty of providers out there who are experienced in streamlining the process of building awareness. They will be able to help your firm by creating a seamless customer
Author: Pauline Freegard, INK Legal