One challenge faced by many lawyers today is that they see no need to be engaged in sales. While our profession may limit how sales are done, those who believe selling has no place in lawyer marketing are being left behind by those who embrace the notion. We can argue whether that’s a good thing or bad thing and the impact of such tactics on the view of the profession ad nauseum, but then we must face the reality of what is happening, what is allowed, and how things have changed. Sales are a big part of a lawyer and a law firm’s growth and success, even though we may disguise the conduct in the general purview of the more acceptable moniker of “marketing.” Call it what you will.
The act of selling involves the same functions that must be accomplished within the gambit of marketing for a lawyer. One element is identifying a need. What is it that a legal consumer needs? It may be necessary to educate the consumer on that need. In other words, the consumer may not know that they need anything at all. This is part of advertising or marketing. The lawyer needs to educate the consumer. This, too, is part of advertising or marketing. But sales is really something more.
It can be thought of this way. Marketing and advertising get the consumer in the door (actual, virtual, or figurative). But selling is really the next step – converting that prospect into a client.
Why should the potential client choose you to meet their legal need? Everything that occurs or is experienced by that potential client between the time that they choose to move forward or continue to explore how the lawyer or law firm can meet their legal need is a part of the sale. And these days, those actions often happen without our even knowing there is a potential client “on the hook.” Those sales activities are happening virtually not physically.
Let's think of the marketing and sales funnel in terms of a website.
If we think of marketing in terms of a website, it is the search engine optimization that gets the website in front of a potential client – having a link to the website appear within the potential client's search results. They click on the link. The selling begins. So, the homepage of the website is what makes a first impression in that sale. The graphics, words, animation, education, photos, navigation, look, and feel all work to sell the firm and its lawyers to that client. As they click through to different pages, the act of selling continues. And the lawyer doesn’t know that they are there. Hopefully, the potential client takes some action to reach out to the lawyer or firm. They could do this through an interactive chat, a phone call, a text, an email, or a personal visit (not likely). Again, that is part of the sales process. How the firm responds to that reach or inquiry is also part of the sales process. At some point, hopefully, the potential client will communicate with a lawyer. But how many drop off along the way? How many make up their mind before the lawyer even has a chance to respond?