The practice of law is not exactly a sales-driven business, which leads many law firms to underestimate the importance of having a good sales process in place. The law firm sales process is essentially what lawyers refer to as “client intake,” and it pays (literally) to find ways of optimizing your client intake process as much as possible. Here are 10 client intake tips to help you develop a better process, increase your conversion rate, and grow your law practice.
10 Client Intake Tips to Help Your Firm Grow
1. Never let a single call go to voicemail
When you call a business during regular hours and no one picks up the phone, there is a very slim chance you will call them back. Most people will move on to the next business on the list without thinking twice.
These are your customers calling. If you aren’t available for a phone call, they certainly won’t trust you to advise them through their difficult legal issues. Trust is critical in the legal sales process, and that’s why it is so important that someone is picking up each and every phone call, even if you are a solo lawyer.
Virtual receptionist services have become really popular in recent years for this very reason. If you don’t already have a receptionist in house, you should consider hiring a virtual one to make sure you aren’t losing business because you don’t have the time to pick up the phone.
2. Offer multiple different ways for prospective clients to contact you
People have different preferences for how they communicate with businesses, and these days, there are a lot of options. Office walk-ins, phone, text, email, live chat, website contact forms, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on.
In order to avoid alienating your potential clients and maximize the conversion rate on your website, you should offer a multitude of different ways for people to get in touch with your firm. Make yourself available on every platform, and encourage your prospective clients to reach out however they feel most comfortable.
3. Follow up with leads immediately to maximize conversions
In sales, a hot lead always has the highest likelihood of converting, and the probability of conversion will decline steadily with time. This means that when a potential client reaches out to your firm in any way, it’s essential that you follow up with them immediately.
It’s often best to call them if possible, because this forces the client to interact with you and helps builds rapport. But depending how they contacted you in the first place, you may not always have their phone number. Don’t let that stop you. Reach out to the person by any means necessary, let them know you received their message, and that you’re happy to discuss their legal needs with them anytime.
4. Track incoming leads in a CRM to keep organized and on task
Many firms fall into the trap of using an Excel file to track their leads. As we have written about before, this is not very effective, and some leads are bound to slip through the cracks.
The reason CRM software exists is for the very purpose of managing your sales cycle and keeping all your prospective customers moving through the pipeline. It helps you keep organized and ensures that each lead is tracked, followed up with, and receiving enough attention.
Unlike Excel sheets, CRMs have added functionality like the ability to set reminders and create tasks, track email correspondence, send automated follow up emails, and much more. Implementing a CRM is one of the most important things you can do to improve your client intake process.
5. Track the lead source for each potential client to analyze your marketing
One key aspect of a good client intake process is that it captures data and gives you the ability to measure KPIs (key performance indicators). This data will empower you to make smarter business decisions and ensure that you are continually striving for improvement and growth.
One of the most fundamental data points to keep track of is the lead source of every potential client, i.e. how they found your firm. You can use this information to analyze your marketing efforts, determine which channels are bringing the most business, and calculate your ROI.
6. Use automated emails to follow up with non-responsive leads or send reminders
Writing emails is extremely tedious, but it’s also one of the most fundamental means of communication in today’s business world. When it comes to client intake, communication is key, so finding ways to automate emails can really save you a lot of time.
At the very least, you should have email templates saved somewhere that you can reuse frequently. But you may want to consider using email marketing software for sending automated follow ups and marketing emails, or something like Lexicata’s email integration which enables you to draft custom emails instantly and schedule automatic reminders for appointments, intake forms, and signature requests.
7. Use online forms to capture client and matter information
The method by which you are capturing client data directly impacts your operational efficiency. If you are jotting down information by hand while on the phone with a client, or having clients fill out paperwork by hand, that info will have to be transcribed or scanned into a database later. Not only does this force you to do double data entry, it can also be error prone, particularly when transcribing someone else’s writing.
On the other hand, if you capture your data directly into an online form, it’s already stored and organized in a database. You can export it directly into other software programs, use it to generate automated documents, or produce reports based on it. Best of all, you don’t have to scan, upload, type, or otherwise input the data into other formats manually.
8. Use document automation tools for preparing engagement agreements
Call it an engagement letter, retainer agreement, or anything else – some type of initial agreement must be signed with each and every client your law firm takes on. This process is incredibly repetitive and can take up a lot of valuable time if you run a volume-based practice.
Fortunately, using tools like Lexicata’s document generator, or other similar automation software, can reduce the amount of time spent preparing a client agreement down to a few seconds. Not only that, but as long as your template is configured properly, you also eliminate the risk of making a typo or other error as you hastily customize the document with each client’s information.
9. Offer e-signatures to make it easy for clients to sign up
We’ve written about this topic before, but it’s worth repeating. Getting your client agreements signed is often the biggest bottleneck in your intake process, and it may be costing you clients.
Luckily, the problem can be remedied pretty easily by offering e-signatures. Modern e-signature software, such as HelloSign (which is integrated into Lexicata) enables clients to sign online, from any type of device, including their mobile phone. All they have to do is open a link in an email, and they can draw in a signature with their finger in seconds.
Compared to downloading, printing, signing by hand, scanning, uploading, and emailing, this process is incredibly streamlined. It can make a drastic difference in your retention rate.
1o. Provide online payment options for retainers
Clearly getting paid is an important step in your sales process – in fact, it’s pretty much the whole point. That should be a no brainer. But much like getting agreements signed, it can be a substantial bottleneck, so it’s important to make the process as seamless and easy as possible on your clients.
Having clients write checks and mail them to you is essentially akin to having them print, sign, and scan documents. You should highly consider offering online, credit card payments as an option (LawPay is pretty much the go-to service in the legal industry). This will give people an easy, painless way to pay your retainers, which makes them more likely to pay and seals the deal.
In a law firm setting, the client intake process is the sales process. Even though law is not a sales oriented line of business, you still have to face the same challenges of converting prospects into customers and getting them to pay you.
Anything you can do to improve that process will help you sign up more clients, and ultimately grow your law firm. We hope you have found these 10 client intake tips useful and can find ways to implement most, if not all of them into your law firm.