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A theory of relativity: Time and space and client capture

The relative speed with which you follow up with potential clients goes a long way to determining what sort of conversion rate you have. The faster you follow up, the better it is; the slower you follow up, the worse it is. The reason for this is simple: people like to feel that they are important, and they want others working for them who are, or who appear to be, on top of things.

After you get a business card, or have an initial conversation with a new prospect, when you get back to the office, or in front of your computer, send them a follow-up e-mail (after you've told them you will), with further information about what you do, and about what you can do for them: make your initial formal contact as personalized as possible, without letting such tailoring derail the follow-up process you've created.

But, make that initial follow-up right away, because, if you don't, you're far more likely to push it off longer than you intended to. And, in the space of that time, your potential client, if aggressive about getting legal help, may already have engaged a more proactive attorney.

In addition to following up quickly, there are some other things you should do to improve your chances of converting your potential client into a kinetic one.

  • Do what you say. If you've promised some specific piece of information, or a resource, provide it. The most convenient way to remember what you've promised is to write it on the back of the potential client's business card; or, if the potential client does not have a business card, you can write on the back of one of your own, or send yourself a text message. Clients want attorneys who are thorough and follow through, and who pay attention to details. Show that you're capable of meeting expectations from the jump.
  • Conclude your follow-up with another action item. You've derived your own 'action item' upon meeting your potential client: letting them know you'll get them more information. Now it's time to turn the tables. If you're following up via e-mail, as you likely are, ask your potential client to do something: e-mail you back with any questions; sign up for your eNewsletter; offer availability for an initial consultation; etc. Whatever, something to drive their action. While it's likely that your interest in paying work will move the conversation forward in the beginning, at some point, the potential client will need to take an actual step in the direction of working with you. (Of course, you'll only provide general information, and not legal advice, unless or until you formalize an attorney-client relationship through the vehicle of an executed, written fee agreement.)
  • Offer the opportunity to subscribe to your information portals. Provide a subscription link to your eNewsletter or blog; if appropriate, ask the potential client to like your law firm's Facebook page, or to follow you on Twitter. Do so within the context of your e-mail signature, if you're looking for an automated method. If you don't get them the first time, the potential client may end up choosing to work with you later on, or in the context of another matter; and, it's more likely that they make that eventual decision if they receive regular updates on the progress of your practice.

When you track your conversion rate of potential clients, include within that analysis information related to how and how quickly you followed up on your initial contact. You're likely to find that this theory of relativity is in operation.

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published February 16, 2012

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