If you are already getting leads contacting your firm, intake and consultations are the key to getting more or better clients. While pre pandemic most people had a receptionist in office that is no longer the case, and many have moved their intake and consultations virtual. This may represent a change, but it is also an opportunity to take a look at your intake and consultation systems and improve.
The technical requirements for offsite intake are fairly simple. You need a VoIP phone system, a CRM or spreadsheet for tracking leads, a calendaring system, a merchant service account for receiving payment and finally some system to remind potential clients of their appointment and follow up with those who have not yet hired. There are many types of “intake” software you can use, but the actual features are much more important than whether the software is named “intake” and whether or not it is built for lawyers.
DATA POINTS TO TRACK
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the dashboard for your practice. They provide the information that you need to know how your firm is performing and whether your revenue will grow or shrink in the coming months. Intake and consultations provide the very best leading indicators for your firm. The number of clients you bring on in any given month will create income in the future, not today so you will want to track and review your data frequently. This information will help you make decisions on marketing spend, hiring decisions, and whether or not you can or should be taking on more clients. The ability to get the data you need should be paramount in any software you buy. In fact, this is my primary concern when selecting any software. For intake and consultations, you want to know:
- How many qualified leads are contacting the firm.
- How many of those leads attend a consultation.
- How many consultations hire you or how many people hire you in a given month.
This information, coupled with your average client spend, will tell you how many clients you need each month to hit your goals. To determine average client spend, we look at all of our closed cases for the last 12 months and divide the total revenue by the number of clients. This is a simple and effective way of determining how many clients you need/want out of your virtual intake system.
YOUR INTAKE TEAM
Once you have the technical pieces locked down, you need the right people to do both your intake and consultations. Whomever is handling your potential client calls and emails is one of the most important people in your firm. They will need training on how to handle the leads to maximize their likelihood of scheduling. This is a sales position, so look for an outsourced service that provides sales training or you need to provide sales training yourself. The great news is that there are online courses designed exactly for what you need or specific consultants who can help you hire and train your intake team.
For virtual consultations, you have two options, phone or video. The data is in and the clear winner is video over phone. Video gives you the opportunity to connect and bond much faster than a phone consultation. You will have the benefit of eye contact, body language, and even seeing someone’s home! The other massive benefit that video has over phone is that you can screen share. Screen sharing allows you to walk someone through your fee agreement and turn a potential client into a client.
PAID OR FREE?
There is much debate over whether consultations should be free or paid and 30 mins or and hour. That is why your intake team is your first level of sales and vetting, not simply a receptionist. I recommend on hour paid video consultations to ensure you are getting the best clients and beginning your attorney client relationship in the best possible way. This relationship forms the basis of your entire engagement and impacts whether your client trusts you, wants to pay you, and relies upon your guidance.
Consultations are a crucial piece to being an effective lawyer and very different from many other pieces of lawyering. You are in a consultative sales role. If your conversion rate is less than 50%, you should seek out training. You have room to grow as a consultative salesperson for your firm and the difference in your ability to close the clients you want will have massive impacts on your revenue and profit. There are online courses, books, and consultants who can work with you personally to gain confidence and skills to inspire your clients.