Friday, November 21, 2008

Building Trust to Earn Clients

From the Grow My Law Firm blog:

In order to do business with anyone - trust must first exist on some level.

The more someone trusts you, the less resistance they have to purchase from you. Think of it like a scale– when you keep adding to trust in one pan, the beam is going to tip the pan representing buyer resistance.

So, how do you develop this trust thing?

The best way to gain trust is to first listen.

But it isn’t quite that straight forward. Let me explain.

How can anyone begin to trust you if they haven’t heard you? You need to speak to be heard. But, what will you say? You can only begin to have an interested audience when you can speak about meaningful solutions. But wait! What solutions? You cannot have a solution until you fully understand your audiences’ problems.

The answer, therefore, is that to fully understand your client’s problems you must first listen to them.

Simple, right?

Ask your best clients questions about what their pains are. What keeps them up at night? What can your practice possibly do to alleviate any or all of those problems? What have you done in the past that solved or prevented enormous problems or consequences to your clients? Write them down. Start a list and create numerous Problem/Solution scenarios.

By the way, I mentioned your “best clients” for a reason. You do want more clients just like them, right?

After you have created a sizable list, take a few of your best cases and turn them into a story. It’s okay to embellish them to make it more interesting. The purpose here is to develop a story that illustrates a Problem/Solution situation.

The story sets up the problem, and the solution is what the characters should have done or what you did to create a solution for the story’s characters to live their lives “happily ever after.” Make your stories interesting. Illustrate the pain so the listener feels it too. Make it human and add a little humor where you can. Then practice telling your stories.

Whatever you do, don’t try to memorize them. Just remember them like you would any story. Sure, they’ll change a little each time, but that’s OK.

By being able to tell your stories, you’ll be much more comfortable in front of every group. The more you tell them, the better the stories will get and the more comfortable you’ll become telling them.

String three or four of these stories together and you’ll have an entertaining “talk” that you can give to every group in town, which includes your potential best clients.

Write articles and incorporate your stories. Compile more and more until you have a book’s worth.

Here are a few benefits to using speaking engagements as part of your marketing efforts.

* You will stand out from the crowd and all of the marketplace noise by having interesting stories with solutions that you can personally provide

* It’s a much better way to leverage your time, so you can stop wasting your valuable cash on unproductive activities like cold-calls, meaningless brochures, or ads no one will ever see

* Speaking before groups is easy to do, inexpensive, and you develop rapport directly with prospective clients, all while providing an entertaining and educational talk

* When you connect with various audience members, there is always a possibility they may refer you to someone they know who can use your services

* You’ll feel proud to market this way because it’s all about giving of yourself and being available to help with your services rather than try to sell them

Please click here to view the piece.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leasing Technology

Is Leasing a Viable Option?

Back in the last recession after the “dot com” bust, leasing enjoyed some popularity for a while. Until recently, it has been fairly dormant. In the last several weeks, however, I have been getting calls from leasing companies that want to push their services.

The concept behind leasing is familiar from automobiles, but works a little differently for law firms. A leasing company typically “leases” the entire cost of hardware, software AND CONSULTING SERVICES for a period ranging from 24 to 48 months. At the end of that time, you have a buyout that ranges from 1% to Fair Market Value (although what the “fair market value” is of 3 year old consulting services is something of a mystery to me). Depending on the terms, you may or may not get a tax writeoff (check with your accountant – generally a 1% buyout may not count).

In return for what amounts to a 10-20% premium compared with the cost of purchasing up front, you get a fixed low monthly payment over the period of the lease, and of course the premium is also spread over the length of the lease. This can provide firms with a way of continuing to move forward even during a recession.

Click here to see the original article by John Heckman on his Does It Compute? blog.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's All About the Client!

In his article entitled An Increased Focus on Improving Client Satisfaction Is Your Formula for Success, Jim Calloway writes:

So, who is the most important person in your office?

In a large firm, this question may invoke thoughts of the founding partner or managing partner. The staff in the solo practitioner’s office may believe the most important person to be the lawyer, while the lawyer may think of the office manager or the employee who makes sure that the bills go out each month. The new lawyer, brimming with confidence and excitement about law practice, may think (but, hopefully, would not say) “it’s me.”

But no matter what size of law firm is involved, the most important people are the clients. For without the clients, there really is no private law practice. (Yes, I know that many of you reading this column immediately answered this question correctly.)

During the recent New Lawyer Experience program, I discussed with those setting up new law practices how important it is for clients to be satisfied with how they are treated by the lawyer and the lawyer’s office, even if they may not be satisfied with the result in their legal matter. After all, in litigation, for example, there are winners and losers. Hopefully all law firm personnel understand that a commitment to excellent client service and communication is an integral part of operations of the successful 21st century law firm.

But there’s a bit more involved than just doing great work and having great client communications. Generally speaking, we are satisfied when our expectations are met and dissatisfied when our expectations are violated.

So with every new engagement, some time should be devoted to ascertaining both the client’s expectations with the substantive legal work at hand and making sure that the client has reasonable expectations about the process and the law firm’s methods of operations. It is certainly no secret that some legal matters take some time to complete. The client should understand after the initial engagement what a reasonable time frame is and what types of contingencies might cause that time frame to be even longer.

There are more gold nuggets in the remainder of the article. Please click here for the entire read.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pick An E-Mail Program: The Google/Thunderbird/Outlook Throwdown

Lifehacker.com has a nice review of the Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft e-mail programs. Click here to take a peek.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tech Is Gonna Help You to Know Your Judge

To this day -- 30 years later -- I remember a story my law school civil procedure professor told us about his first attorney job. 20 years...