Why Attorneys Should Care About the Sales Lifecycle
One common mistake some firms and lawyers make is overestimating how unique or specialized their team and services are compared to the rest of the landscape. The legal space is crowded, and with dozens of firms competing for a client's business, ignoring essential marketing efforts and the value of establishing and tracking a sales cycle can cause real consequences on your bottom line. And with roughly three-fourths of a law firm's business coming from current or repeat clients, providing a great experience with insight and unmatched value will create a culture of loyalty to nurture your sales pipeline with repeat customers and referrals for years to come.
What is the Sales Lifecycle?
Understanding the sales cycle can be difficult, especially for those with limited or no experience working in sales. Like any industry, there's jargon and other terms that carry very little meaning without proper context. And while the approach may change across different practice areas, understanding the sales cycle is the first step in creating a workflow that efficiently converts leads into clients.
Running a law firm is like running any other business. You need clients to hire you, and you need them to return or refer you to others. That means having a sales cycle in place. In short, the sales cycle is a series of repeatable steps encompassing every action you take to secure new business from the point of engagement to closing the deal. This includes the following:
- Lead generation - The first step in the sales process is using outbound marketing tools or techniques to define your ideal customer and generate prospects.
- Qualifying leads - Not all leads are the right fit for your practice or are ready to make a purchasing decision for your services. Here, prospects and sales reps (or the lawyer) talk about their legal situations and decide if the person is in need of an attorney and ready to meet for a consultation.
- Show Value - Here, the lawyer can talk with the qualified lead and demonstrate his or her value to them in detail. This includes going over their case, how the lawyer would handle it, and even talk about his or her past experience and qualifications.
- Purchasing - After demonstrating your value, anticipating and handling any objections or concerns from the client, this the phase where a decision is made.
- Deliver and Get Referrals - The deal doesn't end when the client hires you to handle his or her case. Now you must deliver, provide a great experience and hopefully establish a relationship with repeat business and referrals.
These five steps cover your marketing (lead generation), sales (qualifying leads, showing value, purchasing), and implementation (delivering) efforts, and by establishing a repeatable series of actions, you can continue to build your client base and increase revenue.
Implementing a CRM
Because the practice of law is a business, you need business tools to streamline your daily sales and marketing activities so that your legal team can focus on their expertise and what they do best. By implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software, lawyers can track all lead and client information and also visualize where potential clients are in the sales cycle at any moment. Implementing a CRM for your law firm can benefit you in the following ways:
- Improve your firm's efficiency by storing all lead and client information in one location and streamlining the sales process.
- Give you contextual and detailed data about leads so you can follow up and move them through the sales cycle more efficiently
- Improve your overall relationship with clients by giving you detailed information about them and their case for a better experience, increasing the chance of return business in the future
- Increase your opportunity to cross-sell additional legal services
It is important to give your team the proper tools they need to capture incoming leads, track them, and take the right steps to follow up and hopefully bring them on as new clients.
Compared to other businesses, the legal sales process is unique in that there's very little cold-selling or prospecting. Lawyers don't pick up the phone and start dialing numbers hoping to land a client, but that doesn't mean there aren't other ways to engage with potential clients who may not have considered your practice.
The good news for lawyers is most of your business comes from people reaching out to you. And while this makes the selling process easier than someone cold calling 100 people a day, you have to focus on providing insight and value and get them to sign up. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, one method of interacting with potential clients is by creating and sharing content marketing on social media or your website.
By providing prospects with value and engaging in open dialogue with them across these platforms, you can differentiate yourself from other attorneys. For many people looking for legal representation, it's easy to forget that lawyers are people just like them. So, by creating relevant content, sharing it on your website, and then engaging in dialogue, you can keep clients coming back, but also win some who have worked with competing firms in the past. Along with gaining trust, social selling helps you gather data, listen to pain points and other concerns, and get a better idea of the client's needs so you can better appeal to their specific needs and win their business.
How Understanding the Sales Cycle Will Help
By understanding the sales cycle, you will likely find that your firm is more responsive to the needs of your clients. Being good at sales translates to being an excellent communicator and being responsive to the needs of your potential client. This means responding to inquiries quickly, following up, and being ready to help. What does this ultimately sound like? Good customer service. Once your firm realizes that the sales cycle is all about responsiveness, the better your team will be at closing business and keeping clients happy throughout their entire experience with your firm.