There’s a lot of buzz about case management in the legal industry. It’s basically just all of the systems and processes a law firm uses to manage its clients, matters, documents, billing, etc. Most law firms are using some kind of case management software to help organize all of this information. But there is a lot more to running a successful law firm than just managing cases. One area in particular where many law firms fall short is lead management. Unlike case management, where all of the processes happen after a client has retained your firm, lead management happens pre-retention. It’s all of the processes required to track, follow up with, intake, and otherwise convert a prospect into a paying client. If you hope to grow your law firm, proper lead management is just as important case management, so it’s worth spending time focusing on it. In this post, we’ll provide our list of six lead management best practices to help lawyers land more clients and grow their firms.
Why lead management is essential to growing your law firm
First of all, what makes lead management so important? Well, lead management is essentially just the legal sales process, or in other words, how you track inquiries from prospective clients, follow up with them, intake them, and eventually get them to hire and pay you.
Lead management is one of the three fundamental pillars of running a successful business:
- Marketing: how you create awareness for your services
- Includes SEO, PPC, website/blog, email newsletters, networking, referrals, physical advertisements, etc.
- Lead Management/Sales: how you convert prospective clients (i.e. those that discovered you through marketing) into paying customers
- Includes lead nurturing, follow up/drip campaigns, scheduling consultations, client intake, getting fee agreements signed, etc.
- Products/Services: the actual end result or the services you deliver in exchange for payment
- Includes legal advice, litigating a case, drafting documents, making government filings, etc.
As you can see, lead management is the missing link that connects your marketing to the rest of your practice. Doing a poor job at it means you are overlooking one of the most important aspects of running a successful business, which will clearly limit your opportunities for growth.
Yet, many lawyers are failing miserably at lead management. If growing your practice is one of your goals, it’s probably time to invest more resources into improving lead management at your firm.
6 lead management best practices to help you find success
Here is our list of six lead management best practices to help your firm sign up more clients.
1. Use a virtual receptionist so no call goes unanswered
A study on law firm client intake showed that on average, 35% of calls from prospective clients go unanswered. You shouldn’t assume these people will wait around and try calling you back later. When they can’t reach you, they probably just move on to the next firm.
You may not be able to pay a full time receptionist to answer every single call for you, and that is completely understandable. But neglecting 35% of your potential clients will surely hamper your efforts to grow your practice.
That’s why one of our lead management best practices is to use a 24/7 virtual receptionist service. When no call goes unanswered, you will show your prospects that you are always available, build their trust, and maximize the likelihood of a lead converting into a paying client.
Check out our virtual receptionist reviews for some good possible providers to consider.
2. Respond to every lead within 15 minutes
Studies have shown that lead response time is a key factor in whether or not a sale closes – the faster the response time, the better the conversion rate. Not only that, but the first responder to a lead is also far more likely to win the person’s business.
Lawyers face a lot of competition in the market these days. You should not assume that potential clients who contact you will not also contact another attorney. And you should do everything in your power to have someone call every single lead within the first 15 minutes.
Responsiveness is a key indicator to a client that you care about them and this will help you establish their trust, and maximize the likelihood of a conversion.
3. Make a minimum of 3-5 attempts to contact every lead
Time and time again, studies have shown that persistence pays when it comes to sales. There are a million reasons why a prospect may not reply when you first contact them. But you should never just assume it’s a lost cause.
You should contact every prospect at least 3-5 times, or until you hear back from them. You should try multiple contact methods as well, including both phone and email.
The more follow up attempts you make, the more likely you will be to get through, and the more likely that the person will hire you. It’s that simple.
4. If you don’t receive a response after 3-5 attempts, use email marketing to keep leads engaged
Even after 3-5 failed attempts to contact a lead, you still shouldn’t give up hope completely. You just never know when the person might change their mind and reach back out to you, ready to hire.
It’s all about timing. You want to ensure that you stay top of mind so that your previous potential clients don’t go looking for another attorney when the timing is right.
The best way to keep nurturing these types of leads and maintain some level of engagement with them is to use email marketing. You can send out newsletters with general updates from your firm, or better yet, send along some FAQs, articles, or blog posts that are relevant to the person’s legal matter.
The more targeted these types of communications are, the more effective they will be at converting a cold lead into a hot one.
For more information about how you can do precision targeting and combine it with email marketing, check out our post about managing contacts with custom types and tags in Lexicata.
5. Pre-qualify your engaged leads with a simple online intake form
Depending on your area of practice, it often doesn’t make sense to schedule every single potential client for a consultation right away because you may just end up wasting your valuable time meeting with the wrong clients.
So, once you do have an engaged prospect, the next step is to pre-qualify them to ensure that they are a good fit for your firm and that you can help them with their legal needs.
A great way to pre-qualify your leads is to use a simple online intake form to capture some basic information before you meet with them. You can explain to your clients that filling out this short form is the first step of the process, and that it will help you assess their legal needs so you can properly advise them.
Using an online intake form will not only allow you to screen out bad clients, but also save you a bunch of time during the consultation because you’ll already have a better idea about the important issues which need to be discussed.
Since the form is fillable online, it’s much less of a burden on your clients than printing a form to fill out by hand would be. With Lexicata’s custom form builder, you can design beautiful looking online forms which are mobile responsive and can be filled out from any device, including a smartphone.
6. Track all of your efforts in a CRM so nothing slips through the cracks
According to a study, 26% of law firms do not track their leads at all. Not in a spreadsheet. Not even on a notebook or a Post-it note.
Lead management is virtually impossible without a system for tracking your activities. For example, how will you know if you’ve made your 3-5 attempts to reach a lead if you don’t keep track of it somewhere? That’s what a CRM will do for you.
A CRM functions as your lead management database. It’s where you store each lead, including their contact info, their upcoming appointments, notes about interactions with them, emails you have sent them, and any tasks or reminders you set for you or your staff.
If you use a law firm specific CRM such as Lexicata, you can even do things like trigger automatic email follow ups or appointment reminders, send online intake forms to complete, or send out an e-signable fee agreement. Lexicata also provides visual tracking tool called the pipeline which enables you to monitor the current status of every single potential client.
By using a legal CRM like Lexicata, you’ll know which leads you haven’t been able to reach yet, which leads you have made contact with, which leads have a consultation scheduled, which leads had a consultation but have not hired you yet, etc.
As you should now see, lead management is fundamentally different from case management, but equally, if not more important to growing your firm. Paying for marketing without proper lead management is basically just throwing away your hard earned money.
In order to yield a positive ROI from marketing, you’ve got to have a system for managing, and converting your leads. By utilizing our six lead management best practices for law firms, you will be ahead of the curve when it comes to landing more business for your practice.
You’ll be able to field more calls, follow up more effectively, and if you use a CRM, create a systematic lead management process that converts leads into clients at the highest possible rate.