Sales is not something that most lawyers think about, even though they are probably out there selling almost every single day. There just hasn’t ever been a role for sales in the traditional legal business model. But that may be starting to change. Legal services are becoming increasingly commoditized, and law firms are waking up and realizing they need to start acting like a real business, where marketing and sales are the name of the game. In this post, we’ll explain why smart law firms are hiring salespeople, explain the role of a salesperson in the firm, and look at how focusing on sales can help you grow your practice.
Sales is missing from the current law firm model
Today’s law firm model is pretty standardized. Attorneys and paralegals do most of the actual legal work, billing by the hour or for a flat fee. Receptionists and office admins pick up the phones, handle client intake and scheduling, and manage billing and collections.
As firms grow, they may hire teams to oversee marketing, IT, finance, and accounting. Yet few firms ever hire even a single salesperson.
So who does the selling?
Don’t get me wrong. Not having a dedicated salesperson certainly doesn’t mean that law firms don’t sell. Someone still ends up selling the legal services and signing up the clients, but that role is often very poorly defined.
Sometimes the lawyers do the selling, sometimes the receptionists do the selling, and sometimes the paralegals do the selling. Ultimately, the role becomes muddled up and it’s unclear whose job it is. And this is a big problem.
Why having a dedicated salesperson is a good idea
Building a business requires the implementation of standardized processes. Otherwise, it becomes impossible to manage your growing workload and keep your staff on track. Eventually your growth will stagnate.
Since bringing in more revenue is the most fundamental step toward growing a business, it should be clear that without an effective sales process in place, growth will not come very easily.
This is why having a salesperson, whose sole job it is to bring in revenue, is such a good idea. Failing to establish a sales process is also a common reason why many law firms may be struggling to grow.
Without a clearly defined sales role, no one is directly responsible for one of the most important aspects of growing the business!
What does a law firm salesperson actually do?
Ok, so we have established that placing an emphasis on sales and carving out a specific role for it in your law firm are important steps toward growth. But what does a law firm salesperson actually do on a daily basis?
Law firm sales is quite different than other industries. The salesperson won’t be making cold calls, but there are still some important things which need to be done. Here are the key parts of a law firm salesperson’s job:
One of the most overlooked, yet critical parts of the legal sales process is managing the leads (i.e. potential clients). If nobody is assigned the responsibility of tracking leads at the firm, it’s a near certainty that some potential business is slipping through the cracks.
A core part of the salesperson’s job should be using some type of CRM system in order to input the contact information and notes about the legal matter of every single lead that comes in the door. This will ensure that people are getting the attention they deserve, and no business is lost due to poor organization.
Screen Calls & Set Consultations
At most law firms, a major step in the sales process is the consultation. This is typically where an attorney assesses the client’s legal issue and decides whether or not the firm should take on the client.
Getting potential clients to book a consultation is the first key step in the conversion funnel, so this is an excellent job for the salesperson to perform. They should be contacting leads, screening out bad cases and clients, and setting appointments with attorneys for the viable clients.
Regardless of the industry, it has been shown that persistence works in sales. In fact, one study found that potential buyers are ready to make a purchase after the first meeting only 2% of the time. The other 98% required multiple conversations before sealing the deal.
The same study also suggests continuing to follow up until you hear five “no” responses. The point is, if you only follow up once or not at all, you are letting paying clients slip away.
A major part of the salesperson’s role should be following up with every potential client in order to maximize your conversion rate. The follow ups should happen both pre-consultation, in order to get them to schedule, and post-consultation in order to get them to hire.
Build Trust & Drive Conversions
Each firm may operate very differently in terms of its approach to marketing, and it’s client intake process. Ultimately, the salesperson’s role is to manage the pipeline of potential clients throughout this entire process.
The goal should be to represent the firm well, build rapport with potential clients, establish their trust, and do whatever it takes to close the deal when it makes sense for the firm.
If no one is tasked with this responsibility, or it is shared by a bunch of staff members, it’s inevitable that things will slip through the cracks. You’re only hurting your own chances of success as a result.
That’s why smart law firms are hiring salespeople to get ahead in today’s competitive legal industry.