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How to develop a law firm sales pipeline

Most law firms struggle when it comes to attracting and retaining new clients. However, when a tide pulls in a little further than expected, organizations often start to panic, wondering how they’re going to bring in new leads and, with another payday approaching, how they’re going to meet their obligations.

If you’re losing sleep over the financial burden of running a law firm, you’re not alone. Sales is an integral part of running a business. Regardless of their size, sole proprietorships, small and large firms are all businesses. Yet, managers often wonder how to approach sales, how to play into the staffing dynamic, and whether technology should play a significant role.

Running a law firm without a sales pipeline is like running a retail business without a physical or online presence – no one will know you’re there unless they accidentally stumble upon you, and if they do, they’ll probably be unaware of what you have to offer. This is not a sustainable way to run a profitable law firm.

For decades, lawyers have relied on business cards, yellow page ads, word of mouth and perhaps a basic website to advertise their firm. However, in this increasingly competitive legal environment, these methods are no longer effective, at least not by themselves. There are many ways to market a law firm, but you risk spending time and money on strategies that don’t match their needs or the type of client. A law firm sales pipeline is an effective way to create and coordinate marketing activities that are most relevant to your firm and get the right clients to hire you.

What is a law firm sales pipeline and what should it look like?

A law firm sales pipeline is your process list for identifying and qualifying new leads, demonstrating your firm’s value, selling your services, and asking for referrals. Although there is more than one way to build a law firm’s sales pipeline, most are made up of several steps.

1 Attract

The first step in most law firm sales pipelines involves attracting ideal clients. At this stage legal clients are actively seeking lawyers and the law firm’s job is to pursue activities that attract the exposure and attention of these potential clients. Some examples of ways to attract customers at this stage of the sales pipeline include running creative and effective television commercials, engaging in online marketing activities with a regular presence on social media platforms, and having an easy-to-navigate website that helps the organization reach a larger audience. And attract more relevant customers.

2 Be convinced

Once you’ve captured a potential client’s attention, the next step is to convince them that you’re the right attorney to handle their needs. Effective website landing pages, client testimonials and thought-provoking content are excellent ways to achieve this. However, whichever approach you choose, the goal is to provide evidence as to why your firm is the answer to potential clients’ legal problems. This will be enough to motivate them to reach out by calling you on the phone or filling out an online form on your website.

3 Convert

This critical part of the sales pipeline is where potential organization customers are transformed into leads. At this point, law firms should make it easy for people to contact one of their lawyers once they’ve decided they’re interested in hiring one of them. However, this critical step is where many organizations fail to convert these valuable leads due to lack of an efficient intake management system, failure to follow up and general lack of awareness of the new client.

No matter how you decide to set up your law firm’s sales pipeline, the result will look the same: a clear path to guide potential clients from the moment they hear about your services online until they decide to call you.

How to staff sales – or assign sales to an existing role

Lawyers who have been able to build a successful law practice never discount the importance of marketing their practices. However, most are so busy serving clients, working on cases and appearing in court that they neglect their sales pipeline. Although many attorneys think their firm is too small to justify a sales team, it’s not about the size of the firm. Whether your organization is small or large, you need a dedicated person (or team) to manage your non-converting leads.

Your sales department can be made up of existing team members or salespeople (non-lawyers) acting on your behalf. With a few limited exceptions, most lawyers do not like sales and are generally not as good as trained sales professionals. Externally focused, client-focused sales professionals with experienced marketing law firms can help any firm increase revenue, retain more clients, and reduce the stress legal professionals face in terms of growing business. When collaborating on a team with legal professionals who provide an understanding of substantive law, sales professionals know exactly how to move the sales process, attract the right customers, and win business.

How to track and follow up on your leads

Law firms must find better ways to reach new clients and create more sophisticated campaigns to make the most of their marketing budget and use it strategically. However, the most outstanding marketing campaign will do no good if the organization does not take advantage of the leads it generates.

Unfortunately, law firms are often resistant to key tracking methods used by other industries. As a result, many people who contact lawyers wait days for a callback and some never hear back. But fortunately, some new tools and techniques are now available to help law firms increase their client retention rates. Here are seven ways to improve lead tracking in your organization:

  1. capture. Reaping the full benefits of lead tracking requires a systematic approach. Consider the many ways someone can become a lead for your organization: email, phone call, web form, referral, and social media messaging, to name a few. With cloud-based lead tracking software, you can automatically track all these types of leads, nurture and engage them at every stage to drive sales, business and revenue for all organizations regardless of their size.
  2. Follow up. We live in an instant gratification society. Law clients expect an immediate response to their requests, but an ABA study found that 42 percent of the time, law firms take three or more days to reply to a voicemail or web-generated form from a prospective client. This delayed response can prove detrimental when building a relationship with a client – ​​especially during their initial interactions with your law firm.
  3. Automatic. To capture every incoming lead that comes your way, consider using automation software. Instead of addressing each lead individually at each stage, automated technology allows organizations to set up custom templates and the software takes it from there. Templates allow organizations to create, schedule, and automate client interactions to improve organization, streamline your workflow, account for every detail from lead to conversion, and keep everyone on the same page.
  4. Speak your customer’s language. Learn how to better communicate with your potential customers. Some people appreciate phone calls and emails (some ignore calls from unknown numbers and sometimes give their email a quick skim), but almost everyone reads their text messages regularly. Why do people prefer texting over other forms of communication? It’s fast, easy and personal. This can lead to greater success when communicating with potential clients, be helpful throughout the intake process, and enhance your overall operation.
  5. Track the sources. With so many marketing strategies, law firms can find it difficult to keep track of all their key sources, even though they should do so to allow teams to make better decisions down the road. For example, you can ask leads how they found you, use specific phone numbers for specific campaigns, or use specialized software called a legal customer relationship manager (CRM). Legal CRM gives lawyers a clear view of where each prospect stands on the journey to becoming a client and beyond.
  6. Make good decisions. How many of your leads will eventually become customers? How have your client acquisition rates changed over time? Do certain staff members or attorneys affect your firm’s conversion rates? Which of your organization’s marketing efforts are driving the best results? To attract and retain more customers you need to know the answers to these questions and track key sources and results with a centralized system. These systems automatically generate numbers from the first interaction with a potential client to the outcome of the case.

Once you’re tracking your leads, you need to make sure you’re at the top of the list of attorneys a client is considering retaining. To keep sales moving through the sales pipeline, you should focus on educating the potential client, perhaps by offering a free consultation or sharing helpful information related to their case. Finally, encourage the client to act by asking for their business – in other words, sign the retainer agreement and proceed with the intake process.

Why legal technology is critical to law firm sales

Modern legal marketing and digital marketing are now synonymous. Over the past twenty years, law firm marketing has been driven by emerging new technologies that have profoundly changed how firms can locate, engage, and track prospective clients. The 2021 LexisNexis Interaction Marketing and Business Development Survey found that “high-growth” law firms (those that grew by more than 20 percent in 2020) are four times more likely to track metrics for marketing and business development efforts than slow-growing firms. Furthermore, this metrics-led marketing is more likely to succeed when organizations leverage the right emerging technology tools to help make their efforts more precise, effective and targeted.

Most lawyers understand that technology is essential to efficiently manage day-to-day legal services, such as automating document creation, tracking critical deadlines, and streamlining practice management tasks. But what about selling a law firm? According to the Legal Sales and Services Institute’s annual report, 80 percent of legal sales professionals influence revenue through sales, but only 14 percent of respondents said they hold a marketing, sales or business development position on their firm’s management committee.

Technology helps law firms reach prospective clients without a formal sales and marketing team. For example, law firms now have access to CRM software to automate the lead generation and analysis process, capture and track leads, track where a lead is in the sales pipeline, follow up with prospective clients, and assist in the client intake process. When law firms embrace technology, the overall client experience improves dramatically. With the help of a few tools like a CRM platform, firms can automate their sales pipeline and focus on what they do best to reach and convert more customers: the legal practice.


Above post written by John Hill

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