Closing The Sale: How Winning Attorneys Win Hesitant Prospects
During our recent “Always Be Closing” webcast, we were asked an interesting question. “If after a meeting with you, your prospect says, ‘I’d like to think about it,’ or says ‘I’ll get back to you,’” the attendee wrote, ‘What do you say to that?”
This is a pertinent question, and one that is likely to occur quite often. Hiring a lawyer is usually an expensive proposition and in many cases, a lot is at stake; it’s very natural that a prospective client would want to proceed with caution.
While no one client situation is representative of all, I think it’s fair to say that a prospective client gives a “think about it” answer in two situations: When he or she 1) is not sure you are the right attorney or 2) they are not sure they want to proceed with their legal matter at all. An “I’ll think about it” response is a good invitation to circle back and revisit the discovery phase of the relationship. The prospective client isn’t comfortable making a commitment to you yet, so now it’s up to you to figure out why in order to close the sale.
The first step is to determine what the basis for their hesitation is and then address their concerns head on. I recommend being bold with your inquiry, “I can appreciate you wanting to take time to think things through before proceeding, what specifically is still weighing on your mind?” Listen carefully to their response and determine what stage they are at in the process.
When they aren’t ready to proceed, bring some empathy to your close.
Suing a neighbor, seeking a divorce, thinking about your own death; these are serious and stressful life situations that can overwhelm and potentially paralyze prospective clients. Your role here is to once again empathize with them, to provide a clear path forward for the client, and to reiterate the role you will play and the outcome you can provide. An example might be, “I understand your hesitation. Clearly, you’ve put a lot of thought into whether this is the right path for you and you came to me for a reason. Why don’t we remove the barriers so you can focus on what outcome you want? We’ll complete the paperwork and I’ll withhold taking any action on it. You can sleep on it, and if you still feel like it was the right choice tomorrow, we’ll take the next step together.”
When they’re still shopping, modify your close and give them a reason to choose you.
The prospective client might identify concerns over your price or billing model, question whether you have the skills or support staff necessary to appropriately handle their case, or simply have pre-set plans to visit with multiple attorneys and hire the one they felt most comfortable with. Regardless of their reason, this is your opportunity to highlight the differentiating value you provide. Many attorneys have found success by providing an irresistible offer to the prospective client who is shopping around, “I understand it is easy to push off establishing an estate plan, but I also understand the importance of having it done early and out of the way, therefore if you proceed with me today I’ll immediately set you up with our lock-tight living will forms ($400 value).” Others have found value in clearly explaining the sense of urgency while weaving in their unique advantage, “You are smart to be interviewing several attorneys to defend you in this matter. Based on the date you were served, you only have 10 remaining days to respond. I know the attorney representing the plaintiff well, and could likely buy us some more time with a stipulated extension, but I’d need to begin working on it right away.”
Proceed with caution.
Regardless of the reason for the “I’ll think about it” statement, be sensitive to the prospective client’s position. Sometimes, just the right dose of persuasion could close the sale, when even a little too much could scare another client away entirely. It may not be a bad idea to err on the side of caution in most cases. A high-pressure sales approach could do far more damage than good, both to your immediate and long-term reputation with the client. The last thing you want is someone blaming you for “ruining their life” by convincing them to serve divorce papers, for example. If the client is still waffling on whether to commit to hiring you, do not be afraid to set a time to follow up with the client. At the same time, do not be afraid to let the client go, if you’ve made a good impression with them, they’ll come back to you when they’re ready.
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