By Chris Mullins, the Phone Sales Doctor™.First, lawyers should schedule a Sales Huddle with the intake sales specialists, receptionist and all team members who could take incoming client phone calls.
The answer to improving your conversion is to stop the addiction of throwing thousands and for many of you -- millions of dollars -- to generate more leads. Focus on becoming experts at converting the leads you already have.
Perhaps you want a 5% increase in conversion or perhaps you're elated with 1%. To achieve your goal, lawyers must implement a four-step lead conversion system.
First, let’s get your head in the right place. Don't resist. When most of us when we're challenged with a new idea, plan, process or change, we first think, “Oh no, that won't work here. Is she crazy? We can't do that, we don't do things that way.” You'll easily come up with all the reasons why this simple four-step lead conversion system won't work, but I challenge you to not do that. Just take the steps and make them work at your firm the way your firm is set up. When you stay focused on how your firm can make this four-step lead conversion system work, everything will fall into place.
The system involves inspecting all points of communication with inbound phone calls from your prospective clients, live web chat communication, opt-ins, outbound prospect phone calls and client phone calls. Leave absolutely no stone unturned. Every communication moment with prospects and clients are sales moments.
First, lawyers should schedule a Sales Huddle with the intake sales specialists, receptionist and all team members who could take incoming client phone calls. Sales huddles include:
Next, add Inspectors to your marketing campaign budget. Inspectors are part of your new conversion insurance policy to protect your marketing dollars. The term “inspector” conveys a very powerful psychological trigger to help consistently change habits and behaviors.
Most firms don't even say the word “sales” in their business for fear the current team including attorneys will be offended, rebel, sabotage or quit. If you currently have team members who don’t comply, feel entitled and don’t play well with change, they will act the same way with your new Inspector. The words for you and the team to get used to are: sales, inspection and script.
Record, Monitor, Feedback, Daily (RMFD)
Record all inbound prospective client phone calls. Check the laws for recording calls in your state, make sure your entire team, from the front to the back of the firm know that you're recording phone calls and tell them why. This is a sales, customer service and quality control ongoing training tool.
Monitor all inbound prospective client phone calls, email and web-chat. Critique each call you listened to so that you can provide immediate real-time feedback to the team and call center. These prospects are gold and what I call hyper-responsive, which means that they have already self-qualified as a warm lead for you. With new marketing campaigns you don't know if they are hot until you go through the intake sales screening process. For now, they have thrown you a lifeline. Do not ever let them loose and don’t take them off your list -- even those that you may find your firm cannot help. The only way you can take them off your warm database list is if they die. Otherwise, keep them in marketing funnel.
Feedback. Provide immediate on the spot, real-time feedback to the intake sales specialists who are taking these prospective client phone calls. By doing this you will be able to fix the problem immediately. Share the feedback with the entire team so the same mistake isn’t made again by another team member. This will also keep the competitiveness with team high and will lessen the fatigue that does set in with salespeople that do this kind of work all day long. Feedback helps the Inspector always to have their finger on the pulse of each team member. They will easily be able to identify potential red flags.
Before the inspector critiques a call, ask the team member to critique the call. Teach team members how to critique their calls as if they were the Inspector.
The team member critiques themself, learns how to tell you concisely what worked on the call, identifies the opportunities and finally tells you how they will specifically fix their procedure so that don’t repeat it. Then, the Inspector gives their feedback critiques.
Daily. Record, monitor and give feedback with the Inspector and intake sales team, every day. This should never stop, as long as you spend money on marketing.
Create a team of Inspectors, which should be a prestigious position in your firm -- so much so that others in the firm aspire to become one someday. Look internally first, and you're likely to find a diamond in the bunch. If not, hire Inspectors.
The real heroes of the law firm
Your intake specialists are the real heroes of your law firm. Attorneys, stop what you're doing at this moment, drop everything and take just a moment to imagine that you just discovered that your entire team of intake specialists didn't show up for work today. What would you do? What would your first thought be? What would your first action step be?
Do you take your team for granted? The truth is that your team doesn't really think you care anymore. They think you don't understand what they go through all day long. Understand that the intake team is the glue that keeps your firm together. Without your intake team (receptionist, master of first impressions, front desk), you're out of business.
Here are just some of the feelings your intake specialists have about your prospects and clients:
The callers are not deserving, they’re lying, faking, they’re pitiful, they’re crazy, they’re drunk, they’re the mental cases.
The prospect told me he/she wanted to shoot them self. I tried to calm them down. I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve been taught to listen, be compassionate to let them know I’m glad they called me today. You made the right decision calling. You’re not alone. Then, three days later, I find out they did kill themself.
Attorneys, how does your team live with that? Do you listen to the phone calls your team is taking all day long? You should because it will keep you focused on what life is like for your prospects, the client and what a day in the life of an intake specialist is really like.
Concern for the team
Intake specialists make phone call after phone call, every day, and listen to stories about pain in cases about personal injury, SSD, mass tort, criminal and divorce. But now that your team has been doing it for so long they think of your prospects and client as “the mentals” or “the mental cases,” for example.
Attorneys, I’m worried about your team. Recently, after listening to an attorney, I said to her in person, “I hear everything you’re saying about why you can’t get your team to do what you want. Or, that your phones just have to go to voice mail if they’re ringing off the hook or hey I’ll just fire them all and start over. I understand the challenges you face with your business and your team. I understand how it’s easier to look the other way, but when you do this you’re hemorrhaging because you’re spending thousands of dollars on marketing to get your phones to ring. But you’re spending no time, money or effort on inspecting what happens when the phone rings. What happens to all those leads you paid for? What’s being said on the intake call? What’s being said by the attorney? Are the outbound calls being made? What happens with the lead comes in via the internet? That’s what we call hemorrhaging.”
Then, I told the lawyer “Out of everything you’re sharing with me, the only thing I’m really worried about is your team. I’m very concerned for them.”
Below are a list of questions you should always ask your team:
The relationship and healing business
Sit with those results for just a moment. Every single one of your intake team members (receptionist, front desk, etc.) are on the phone all day long sitting in a small cubicle taking call after call, listening to screaming, yelling, swearing, suicide threats, abuse and crying. They hear, “Why won’t you help me? Why won’t the case manager call me back? What am I going to do? My father ran over my daughter with the car by accident.”
The career you’re in is to be of service. You’re not in the legal business as much as you’re in the relationship and healing business. You’ve gotten so conditioned and into an automatic routine that you don’t even think about the person on the phone rather I need to hurry to get to the next one, etc. Then, you have the Attorneys, the Partners that have metrics they want you to meet each month, well of course, this is a business and without sales you have no business therefore you have no job.
Attorneys, support your team, be of service to your team and give them all the coaching you possibly can so that they can do the same for your prospects and clients one relationship, one phone call at a time. Provide intake specialist lounges for your team to have a safe place to go to calm down, to rest, to be quiet to vent feelings with no repercussions so that they can get ready for the next call.
hris Mullins is the Phone Sales Doctor™ of the Intake Academy, which she co-founded. Chris can be reached at 603-924-1640 and firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a co-author of the upcoming new book, “A Day In The Life Of An intake Specialist, The Real Heroes of Law Firms Worldwide,” also written by Harlan Schillinger of Network Affiliates and Ryan Pitz, intake Academy co-founder.