We completely understand that you did not go to law school to become a salesman.
Almost no one pursues a professional degree to become a salesman.
But every professional — doctors, bankers, CPAs, massage therapists, and chefs — has to learn how to sell their services.
For many lawyers, there’s something about selling that even feels unethical about selling. Like it’s beneath the profession.
In our profession, selling sometimes gets a bad rap. But what if our mindset about sales is all wrong?
Shift Your Selling Paradigm
No matter how good you are at lawyering, all self-employed lawyers must learn to sell their services. That requires setting aside the old paradigm about sales, and replacing it with one that supports your success.
1. Redefine Selling. Retool your thinking so that you understand selling the same way you understand your chosen practice area. Strictly speaking, a practice is a habit, a process, a custom, or a system. Sales is a practice. Once we perceive sales as a skill that can be learned rather than a dark artform, we begin to realize that there is nothing demeaning or insurmountable about it. Lawyers are trained to learn how to do new things, including sales.
2. Selling Is the Art of Persuasion. At nearly every level, legal practice requires the ability to persuade. It is fair to assume that you have developed the ability to successfully persuade people to believe what you have to say and to act on it. That is precisely what selling is.
3. Focus on being helpful, which feels good. Selling legal services is not about convincing anyone to purchase something they do not need. Chances are, if you are engaging in a sales activity with a prospective client, they already need to purchase legal services. Your job is to merely convince the prospective client why they should hire you and not a competitor. If you shift your focus away from the sell, and more on how much additional value that a client will get by working with you, the process becomes more about being helpful than transactional. And being helpful feels good.
4. Selling Is About Consistency. You know what we’re really good at? Keeping a calendar and sticking to it (I mean, they take away your license otherwise). Guess what? Success with selling legal services is less about mastering sales scripts or Jedi closing routines, and much more about follow-up. According to a study of 3.5 million sales leads, 93% of all business transactions close within six contacts with prospective clients. Do what you are good at. Calendar follow-ups and watch your practice grow.
5. Selling Respects the Needs of Others. Selling is not limited to words or particular actions, it becomes a lifestyle. If your lifestyle is respectable, people will respect what you have to say. They will not perceive what you have to say as selling but as advice. Selling will become simpler when you learn to see it the same way.Treat everyone with dignity. Listen. Often you’ll find that people will ask you to sell them your services – or refer them to someone else who can help them. How you treat people will determine whether or not they are willing to seek you out when they need legal services.
Selling your services shouldn’t be an ancillary part of your law practice, it is very much part of what you do. By shifting the way you think about selling, it will simply become a part of what you do every day.
So true.! Gone are the days where you could post a sign outside your office and clients would come. Lawyers have to be more proactive when it comes to building a client base.. This requires some form of selling., After all you are selling a service.. It is remarkable how good some sales people are. I realize that a lot of their techniques can be learned and adaptable to the legal profession . Most lawyers cringe when they think about selling and sales people.. You are right, in that we should look at selling in the legal profession in a different light! Thanks,. Vivian Coromilis
Thanks for your comment Vivian. Before I became a lawyer, I was an intern for a gentleman who managed investments at Merrill Lynch in their private client group. He worked in a tiny branch office in Rochester, NY, and at the time, was one of the top producers in the country. Before I met him for the first time, I had envisioned this slick-looking, fast talking broker. In reality, he was a mild mannered, family-man in an off-the-rack suit. His approach to sales was to consistently provide value to his clients above and beyond doing a good job with their investments, caring about his clients’ personal lives and continually coming up reasons for his clients to tell their friends what a great guy, and broker, he was. No sales voodoo, just consistently following a system of being a good person, being good at his job, and giving his clients a reason to refer their friends. He was a man of the highest integrity, and a great example of how professionals can sell professional services.