I am fortunate in that my days involve speaking to new prospects around the country, almost all of which are law firms. Any law firm that contacts me seeking to spend a significant budget on marketing is first asked questions about their existing infrastructure. One of my biggest Stacey-isms (if there is such a thing) is “do not spend money on marketing unless and until you have the internal systems set up to handle the increased intake.”
Most marketing agencies and vendors only care about how much money lawyers can spend, and how quickly they can get them to spend it. As a lawyer myself, I know that spending without a system to capture data and follow up with the leads will decrease a law firm’s return on investment significantly. To really capitalize on your financial investment, you must make sure you are set up for success!
Five Areas Where You Can Improve Your Intake Process:
- Make a good impression when first speaking with inbound phone calls and website leads. Have a dedicated person answer the phone that does not answer “law firm,” but says something warm and inviting, including the actual firm name. Also have that same person or another dedicated person handle all intake screening, responding to all digital submissions and voicemails the same day. The intake manager should focus on building a relationship with the caller, providing multiple methods of future communication, including a direct number, an email address, and a fax number.
- During the screening process, obtain relevant information while keeping the inquiry on track and showing that you care. Make sure that the staff member you have in this position is a “people person” and enjoys spending time on the phone. The person speaking to your law firm leads is the first and sometimes only representative of your law firm the leads will speak with. Record their calls and listen in on their calls for quality control purposes to ensure that your team is forming appropriate connections with potential clients. Use an intake screen in your law firm case management software or other database or an intake handout to collect the data from the lead to determine if their case is worth signing up. Always obtain the inquiry’s name, phone number (ideally a mobile number so that you can text them), and email address at the start of any communication so that you can continue to correspond even if you are disconnected.
- Sell your law firm as different, better, and the right firm for the inquiry’s case. As more potential clients search for and find their lawyers digitally or remotely, the telephonic or email sales conversion component will continue to rapidly become one of the most valuable positions within a law firm. When a potential new client asks “Why should I hire your law firm,” your intake manager and his or her team should have predetermined selling points regarding why your business is different. Make sure that anyone speaking with prospects can filter these points into every qualified new case call.
- Don’t promise money, fees, or that a lawyer will communicate with them. Most litigators will be too busy or out of the office too often to be responsible for speaking with or following up with leads. Even if litigators are interested in being involved in the intake process, on a day-to-day basis, other professional obligations will take priority. Task a staff person with following up with leads and only set appointments with an attorney if absolutely necessary. Try to avoid quoting fees or percentages over the phone. Try to keep the prospect focused on coming in to your office, scheduling a time when you can go to meet with them at a convenient location, or on accepting your sign up paperwork for review.
- Have a lead nurturing sequence. “A what,” you say. A lead nurturing sequence or a follow up sequence is a predetermined pattern of phone calls, emails, and paper correspondence that an intake manager employs with each and every lead in order to most effectively convert leads into prospects. Standardized emails can be pre-programmed into your database to be sent with the click of a button. For example, an email immediately sent thanking the inquiry for contacting your law firm when you fail to reach them over the phone shows your interest, provides an alternate means of communication, and allows you to further market your law firm by including social media links and more.
Stacey Burke Can Improve Your Law Firm’s Intake Process
I have personally established, managed, and refined intake departments at law firms across the country in a variety of practice areas. If you would like more information on how I can consult on-site with your law firm to improve your conversion rate with qualified leads, contact me today at 713-714-8446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.