Lawyers Must Be Salespeople but it Shouldn’t Feel Sleazy

By Brandon Vogel

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For a lawyer, trying to sign up a client should feel like you’re helping someone and not like you’re selling a car.

Being a salesperson is not sleazy; it is necessary if you want to make a living, said Carol Schiro Greenwald at the recent CLE Webinar, “Presenting Your Best ‘You’ To Your Best Prospects.”

“It’s not selling a car to make a monthly quota,” Greenwald said. “Think about it as solving someone else’s problems because you have the skills, experience and the knowledge to help them do that.

“You want to be relevant, you want to be interesting, you want to come across as professional and knowledgeable and authentic,” Greenwald said. “Authentic is the most important because us humans know what it looks like when you are not and then they discount everything you say.”

However, it is not necessarily your legal acumen that sets you apart. Instead, it is your people skills, the same skills you use as a parent or as a spouse. “Empathy is wonderful because it doesn’t say I agree with you; it says I understand where you are coming from, I accept where you are coming from,” said Greenwald.

How to start and what you need to know

Size matters, but not how you might think, according to Greenwald. “The smaller the market, the better. You want to know all there is to know about your market,” said Greenwald. “It is much easier to understand Harley Davidson motorcycles and riders than all forms of two-wheel transportation.”

Find your target market by looking at your existing client base, advised Greenwald. Then think about your practice and how you want it to go.

According to the 2019 Clio Legal Trends Survey, 59 percent of potential clients sought a referral through family and friends, 57 percent searched on their own and 17 percent went to a lawyer’s website or used an online search engine.

Some 42 percent of prospects think that that don’t need to speak to other lawyers if they like the first one with whom they speak. “This goes to the importance of responding to them in the way in which they wish to be responded to,” Greenwald said.

The Clio survey revealed that 77 percent of prospects want to know a lawyer’s experience and credentials, 72 percent are interested in the type of cases a lawyer handles, 70 percent want to understand how the legal process works and 66 percent want to know how much the case will cost.

In addition, 82 percent of potential clients want their lawyer to be responsive while 64 percent care about the lawyer’s friendliness and how much they like the lawyer’s tone of voice.

Relationships are reciprocal in consultative selling, said Greenwald. Focus on the benefits and value of what you do rather than accomplishments. And she explains that active listening is not a game of ping pong.

“It is really paying attention not to what you are going to say next, but to what they are saying and then summarizing it back to them so you make sure that you heard it the way they meant it and then probing any kind of ambiguity so that when you are finished you have an in-depth understanding of not only what the issue is, but all of the sub-issues and nuances that make them unique,” she said.

 

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