6 Steps to Improve Your Lead Conversion

The success or failure of your law firm in the next year will not be determined by the number of leads you receive. It will be determined by you and your team’s ability to convert those contacts into contracts. Over the last 15 years, it’s been our privilege to work with over 15,000 attorneys to help them generate and convert more prospects into paying clients. One of our main messages is, your lead generation efforts will be wasted unless you have a system to nurture and convert them. I don’t have time, is no longer a valid excuse with the marketing automation software that’s available today.
The average consumer attorney only converts 5-15 percent of their leads into paying clients (out of 100 leads they sign up 5-15 new clients)! However, by using a systematic approach to lead conversion, you can increase your lead conversion rate to 25-35-even 45 percent. Translated – that means you can double or even triple your revenues without getting any more leads! Here are six steps you need to implement in order to improve your lead conversion rate:

1 – You must have a dedicated intake specialist. One of the things we have learned from our program is the necessity for a culture shift so that the individuals responsible for doing the work are not the same people who interview and sign up prospects. We have seen this mistake made over and over again at law firms: the phone rings and your paralegal answers. Their responses to a prospects questions are curt and direct with no rapport building. If they collect any contact information, it’s minimal. Why? Because they see answering the phone as an interruption to their day. It keeps them from doing their work. Plus they don’t want more clients because more clients means more work and they don’t make more money for more work. By the way, associates can be even worse. As much as possible, you want to build a firewall between the people who sign up clients and the people who are actually doing the work.

Our experience secret shopping over 1,000 law firms has shown us that many firms have the wrong people answering prospect calls. You don’t want people handling your intake process who have a customer service, technical or legal background; you want people who have sold stuff over the telephone. You want to build a sales-oriented culture within your intake department because intake and lead conversion are direct money-making functions. You don’t want order takers in charge of your lead conversion efforts; nor do you want technicians who may try to minimize new clients because they don’t want more work. You need rainmakers – people who are dedicated to getting prospects from being just a prospect to being a paying client.

2 – You must have a sense of urgency when following up with every lead. Research by Velocify.com indicates conversion rates drop precipitously if you fail to follow up within five minutes after a lead comes in. The same study found your lead conversion rate drops by half if your first follow-up attempt increases from five to 10 minutes! Another study by InsideSales.com showed that 35 to 50 percent of sales go to the first company who responds to a lead and if you follow up with a lead within five minutes, you’re nine times more likely to convert them.

Fast follow-up is a real stumbling block, especially for solos and litigators who usually rely on attorneys to return a call or email inquiry. This is the first mistake. Because of an attorney or paralegal’s workload, they rarely follow up immediately. They may intend to, but they just can’t.
So what to do? Hire the right people and automate the follow-up process! You simply cannot be consistently good at lead conversion unless you have a system in place that sends your prospect an immediate message responding to their inquiry.
Every contingency can be planned for in advance with an automated marketing system. A prospect calls in, a staff member obtains an email address or cellphone number, enters it into the system, and that person is immediately sent an educational email (or a series of text messages with links). That email can encourage them to set an appointment, educate them further about your firm, include some testimonials from other clients, offer a free consultation, or whatever you want to happen next.
An automated marketing system also enables you to implement a drip marketing campaign that guide your prospects along the path toward becoming a client. If they miss their initial appointment, this triggers a series of emails or texts encouraging them to reschedule. If they don’t sign with you after the initial meeting, another series of emails or texts prods them to take that step. All of this can be done without any intervention from busy attorneys and paralegals.

3 – Your intake specialist must call them a minimum of 7-10 times before giving up. No, that is not a typo. If you want to convert leads, you will have to work harder than your competitor! There should be three calls made the first day: one within five minutes, a second call within about an hour and the third by the end of the day. Two more calls should be made the next day, then two more the day after that, then ideally one per day for the next two-three days. Obviously, if you reach the person and disqualify them on call No. 2 or if the prospect indicates they have already hired a different attorney then you don’t continue to call them.

The reason for this multicall approach is simple and backed by powerful research showing that:
• 44% of sales people (your intake person) give up after one follow-up (Scripted). • The average sales person only makes two attempts to reach a prospect (Sirius Decisions). • 80% of sales require five follow-up phone calls (The Marketing Donut).

4 – You must send them three-five emails or text messages in addition to the phone calls. These emails/text messages should be educational in nature and subtly inform them of why they should call you and set up an appointment. When you consistently communicate with prospects and give them practical, relevant information, you build the “know, like and trust” factors that can lead to business for you down the road when they are ready to buy.

The first email may consist of a simple “Thank you for contacting us. Here’s a link to our website (or a video) for more information.” The second email may be “There are 10 questions you must ask any attorney before you hire them to take your case. Here’s the first two questions…”
On average, people require at least seven- 10 meaningful touches to move from being interested in you to being ready to buy from you. Most attorneys stop after two or three touches because they falsely believe they are “bothering” or “chasing” the person. There is plenty of evidence that people are always busy and persistence in your follow up will win you way more clients than hoping that prospects will call you back.
As long as you are professional and courteous in your voicemails, text messages and emails, the vast majority of people will perceive your persistence as caring about them and wanting their business, not bothersome.

5 – You must track every single lead. Once a lead comes in, someone has to be tasked with keeping track of the lead status so leads do not fall through the cracks. Lost leads are lost opportunities and are akin to leaving money on the table. They also hurt your reputation with your referral sources if they supplied the referral and you didn’t follow through on the lead. People do not like lawyers who they call and leave a message only to never hear back from the attorney. Many of them will go so far as to leave you a negative review online if you don’t get back to them in a timely fashion. The only way you can be sure your team is following up with every lead is to track every single one of them religiously!

You must have a dedicated system for lead tracking and it must be consistently used. We saw this last week when we secret shopped a client’s office. His top paralegal did a great job answering the phone, answered several of our questions, built rapport with us, but never asked for our name, phone number or email address! It would literally be impossible for our client to follow up with that lead since his paralegal never obtained any of our contact information.

A good lead tracking system should: • Capture a prospect’s contact information. • Ask a few basic qualifying questions to see if the firm might be interested. • Track conversion rates: How many of these leads turn into appointments? How many of your appointments show up? How many sign up at the initial consultation? How many sign up afterward? • Track the disposition of the lead: Who was responsible for follow up? Did it convert? If it was a referral was the referral source thanked? • Set the appointment.

By tracking your leads, you can discover the disconnects in your intake process and fix them.

6 – You must have software to manage leads. Once you start getting more than 30 leads per month it becomes difficult to keep track of all of them manually. That’s when software can make a huge improvement in your conversion rates. Most of the small firms we consult with have a finite amount of time to dedicate to legal marketing, so having an automated marketing software system in place that nurtures a lead along the path to becoming a client is a great benefit. Consider these facts:

• Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Gartner Research) • Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. (ANNUITAS Group) • Companies that nurture leads make 50% more sales at a 33% less cost than nonnurtured leads. (Forrester Research)

First, you should identify the right software to assist in automating the lead management process. The more you can automate this, the lower your costs will be. Tracking software is readily available at a relatively low cost, compared to the expense of doing it manually. Second, automate the firm’s follow-up process. Develop follow-up sequences for direct mail, autoresponder text messages or emails and phone call follow-ups.

• Direct mail – What used to be a very labor- intensive process can now be highly automated in a way that doesn’t adversely impact busy lawyers’ schedules. • Autoresponder text messages and/or emails – Develop a series of email messages to be sent at regularly scheduled intervals that can convey your messaging in a timely manner to your prospects. You can develop autoresponders for every phase of the lead nurturing process. • Phone call follow-ups – Develop a schedule of calls so that leads don’t fall through the cracks. Some of the tracking software can automatically place them into a calendar for your intake team to follow up.

If you would like to find out more information about the Rainmaker Lead Conversion System and automated marketing software we customize for clients we invite you to give us a call and set up a demo.

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