Every lead has the potential to become a paying legal client, which is why successful law firms put so much time and effort into their marketing strategies. But the road from lead to client can be filled with obstacles. Some just happen to appear by circumstance while others are placed there by the lead. But the most troubling obstacles are those that arise from the law firm’s own actions.
Whether it’s the individual who completes a contact form and never responds to follow up efforts or the person who suddenly gets quiet after weeks of communication, law firms leads can go cold. It’s a reality of business. But with an understanding about the various reasons why this happens, law firms can implement better strategies for turning those leads into paying firm clients.
This post will explore six common reasons why law firm leads become unresponsive and what law firms can do about it.
Reason #1 A Delayed Response
By the time a person starts seeking legal representation, they are likely already involved in an urgent situation, or at least a situation that feels urgent to them. So, when they take the step to start communicating with a firm, they expect a timely response. Not only does this satisfy their immediate concerns, but it also provides a glimpse into the level of service they would receive as the firm’s client.
Firms that fail to respond to leads within 24 hours miss out on a valuable opportunity to showcase their client services. They may also lose the advantage of being first out of the gate to speak with the lead before they reach out to other firms. In a world of “instant” everything, faster lead responses are a must.
Reason #2: An Informative Contact Form
A law firm can have the flashiest website with the fanciest contact form, but none of that matters without a roadmap that addresses the lead’s questions. From their perspective, they are spending their time and energy filling out forms and sharing information without a clue about what to expect in return. They get all of the way to the submit button just to be left in the dark about what’s going to happen next.
Even worse is when the form is eventually followed by a generic email stating that someone will get back to them soon or requesting that they call the office… only to be asked all of the same questions again. It’s enough to make anyone unresponsive.
An informative contact form provides leads with the information they want to know right up front. Here are some examples of what might be included:
- The purpose of this form is…
- A checkbox that allows the lead to quickly identify what they need assistance with
- Space for an optional more detailed explanation of their legal needs
- Options for how and when they prefer to be contacted
Once these answers have been gathered, the contact form can provide a message that provides a more specific follow up window of time, an estimation of how long the conversation will take, and a list of items that they need to have in preparation for the communications.
This information answers many of the lead’s questions up front, while setting the tone for the firm’s level of client service going forward. It makes the firm appear professional, thorough, and considerate of the lead’s time… which are all attributes that a potential client looks for in a law firm.
Reason #3 The Competition
It’s no secret that the legal market is filled with law firms, which means that prospects have a lot to choose from. As such, they often reach out to numerous attorneys before choosing which one will receive their business.
Dealing with this obstacle requires positioning the firm as a unique option that offers what other firms cannot. That means offering competitive price structures and payment arrangements, including fixed fee options and payment plans. That also means offering convenient methods of communication and bill paying, like client portals and the acceptance of electronic payments.
Most importantly, prospects want to know that their matter will be a priority in a firm that has the skill and resources to reach a positive outcome. This type of trust can be established ahead of time through a firm’s online presence. An informative website, firm highlights, active social media, and strong reviews all speak for a firm before the first lead communication even occurs. When a lead comes to the firm with an already-established trust in its abilities, the competition obstacle becomes much easier to navigate.
Reason #4 Affordability
Legal fees are notoriously high, and the truth of the matter is that some clients either cannot afford to pay them or they just refuse to, opting instead for the lowest bid. Firms can deal with this in a number of ways, including the decision to let these leads walk away if their case is not financially advantageous. Another potential options would be informing clients about payment options immediately after quoting a fee and making an effort to address their financial concerns. For some firms, lowering fees in order to fall more in line with competitors can be a viable way of increasing affordability.
Reason #5 Change in Circumstances
Prospects sometimes become unresponsive because the circumstances that led them to initially contact a firm have changed. Perhaps the situation resolved itself or they have decided to delay the legal action. There’s not much that a firm can do to immediately turn these leads into paying clients, but they can plant a seed for future representation.
There is a decent possibility that these leads will need legal services at some point and they will look to the firm that provided them the best impression upon their initial contact. So, by following through with a positive and comprehensive lead response, a firm can establish itself as that go-to practice when circumstances change again.
Reason #6 No Connection
The reality is that people prefer to work with people they like, and sometimes, there just isn’t a connection between the lead and the law firm member who follows up with them. That’s why it’s important for firms to carefully consider who will take on this important task. After all, that first impression could be the only impression if no connection is made.
Lead responses should be handled by a firm member who exemplifies the following characteristics:
- Friendliness – No lead wants to be contacted by a person with a bad attitude.
- Active listening skills – Prospects want to feel heard and understood. Active listening requires paying close attention and restating the client’s needs to ensure clarity.
- A pleasant voice – It may seem harsh, but some voices just don’t make the best impression.
- Professionalism – The staff member who tends to ask overly personal questions or run off on tangents is probably not the best fit for the job.
- Knowledgeable – There may be a fine line between general advice and legal advice, but the chosen staff member needs the ability to answer questions in a knowledgeable manner. Otherwise, they could appear untrustworthy or unskilled, which paints a negative picture of the firm.
A positive connection can do wonders for turning a prospect into a paying client, even helping a firm overcome other obstacles, like the cost of service or other competitive firms. With some simple strategies, law firms can effectively turn unresponsive leads into revenue-generating firm clients. The heart of executing these strategies is a comprehensive CRM system to streamline the process.