Breaking Down the Legal Sales Process (Part 2 of 3)

This is the second post in our three part series on the legal sales process. If you haven’t read part one yet, which breaks down the sales process from the attorney’s standpoint, you should do so before you read this. This post focuses specifically on the client side of the legal sales process, i.e. how legal services are purchased in the market. When you put yourself in client’s shoes and understand the legal sales process from their perspective, it becomes easier to spot areas where you might improve.

A Delayed Sales Cycle

The process of purchasing legal services as a client is often long and drawn out. Unless there is some urgent situation that requires immediate legal advice, like an impending court date, clients will often delay and wait until the very last minute to address their legal concerns.

This happens for a few reasons:

  • They may be unaware they even have legal issues
  • They may not understand the importance of addressing their legal issues
  • They may be intimidated to contact a lawyer
  • They may fear high costs or not have the money to pay for the services

The Threshold Concept

Regardless of the reason for the delay, the end result is that the legal sales process is often long. I like to think of it as a building up of pressure until finally a threshold is crossed, and the client decides to seek help from an attorney.

The timeframe in which the process occurs may vary significantly by the type of matter. For instance, a criminal charge with an impending court case is a very obvious legal issue that must be addressed quickly. However, setting up an estate plan is typically not a very pressing issue and the process will often develop over a much longer period of time.

Taking into account your own practice area and the nature of the clients you work with is important to really understand this “threshold” concept. In general, here are the basic phases of the process:

  • Pre-Awareness

Here the client is not yet aware of any legal issues which they may currently face.

  • Initial Awareness

Next the client develops preliminary awareness of a potential or actual legal issue. The client generally will not take much of an action at this point, but the process has now begun.

  • Research Phase

As the legal issue lingers on, the next phase is one of research. where the client begins looking for information (usually online) to help them understand their situation better. The client may also start looking for a qualified attorney to help, either by browsing attorney profiles and websites online or by asking people for referrals.

  • Threshold Reached

As more time passes, pressure builds up in the client’s mind until eventually, the “threshold” is crossed and the client feels compelled to take action. Things start happening much more quickly, and the client will now begin actively reaching out to attorneys for help.

  • Resolution Phase

Finally, the client hires a lawyer and begins the process of resolving their legal issue.

When you step back and think about what’s going on in a client’s mind, within the context of the basic legal sales process outlined in our first post, it becomes easier to spot the areas where you might improve.

Within this framework, the sales and purchasing processes align quite nicely. Depending on which phase of the purchasing process your prospects are currently in, you should be doing different activities from a marketing and sales standpoint.

In our third post, we’ll breakdown specifically how you can improve at each step of the purchasing/sales cycle. The goal is simple: generate more leads, and close them more effectively to increase your overall law firm revenue. Be sure to join our email list so you don’t miss out on the final post, which will be published soon!

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