Sales Prospecting in the Dead Leads File
2010 may hold the secret to legal marketing success in 2011. Here’s why.
Economic and political conditions – ranging from high unemployment, to the foreclosure overhang, and the (then) uncertainty of the mid-term elections – put many potential buyers in a “wait and see” mode last year.
Now that they’ve waited, business and legal executives are seeing improved economic conditions in 2011. While many challenges remain, there is a renewed sense of optimism that is prompting many firms to start spending money again on previously deferred priorities.
Reconnect with 2010 Prospects
Chances are you have a goldmine of new law firm prospects awaiting your call. I’m referring to the prospects you spoke with in 2010 who did not retain your firm at the time.
These prospects could be people you met at networking events, referrals from other attorneys, or inbound leads generated by your Internet marketing efforts. Your best prospects are those who asked for information about your firm or a proposal, but ultimately did not sign an engagement letter.
Frequently we don’t know why a proposal is not accepted. In the busy day-to-day cycle of court deadlines and current client demands, it is easy to lose sight of the hoped for clients who never materialized.
Don’t Stop Selling Too Soon
There are many valid reasons why a prospective client does not accept your proposal. Here are three possible reasons that your 2010 proposals did not result in engagements.
1. The prospect did not hire any law firm.
It’s not that you lost the business to a competitor, but that the prospect decided to defer the purchase entirely. If this is the case, they may be ready to take action now. A prospect you spoke with in detail during 2010 may be waiting for your call. What are you waiting for?
2. They picked another vendor, but are not happy with the results.
Of course your firm is the best in its field (and prices accordingly), but perhaps the prospect decided that due to budgetary concerns they had to hire a less expensive service provider. Now they realize that they are getting what they paid for, but they really need more legal firepower. A well timed inquiry may open the door to reconsideration of your services.
3. The prospect thought they could do the work internally.
Insurance carriers and corporate general counsel are inclined to try and reduce costs by staffing up internally. This may or may not work effectively, particularly in specialized niche markets. Your prospect may now be ready to acknowledge that they do need your services. A follow up call or email suggesting lunch or coffee, if accepted, can reactivate the sales process.
How to Restart the Sales Conversation
First, compile a list of the engagement letters that you submitted to clients in 2010 that were ultimately not accepted. Review the offer and your notes to refresh your memory of each prospect’s circumstances.
Second, determine the outreach effort that is most comfortable for you. This may be an email for some, or a phone call for others. You might also consider a two-step process, where you first send a personalized letter to let the prospect know that you intend to call them.
Third, make the actual connection. You may want to jot down a short script to help you prepare for a phone call, or role-play an in-person meeting.
Stay in Touch
Now that you are reconnecting, hot leads will of course trigger your immediate response. Renew your efforts to stay in touch with those who still remain on the fence with newsletters, webinar invitations, or an on-site CLE seminar.
Remember, never stop marketing!