Clients Don’t Have Trouble Finding Lawyers. They Have Trouble Choosing One.

The Internet is the most democratic of platforms. With free access to information and no barriers to entry, clients and customers often know as much, if not more, than those with whom they transact.

Because we all have access to the same content, there is a leveling of power. Buyers have more choices than ever before and often call the shots. With this, comes a decrease in client loyalty. Purchasers negotiate on their own terms. It is not about what you are selling; it is about what they are buying. 

We are on the other side of a critical paradigm shift. We are living in a buyer’s market and there is no turning back.

More and more, purchases take place one-on-one. We find the best deal. Because we can. 

What does this have to do with the legal marketplace? LinkedIn (proven to be the first stop for those searching for a lawyer) and other social media platforms, business websites, rankings, ratings and recommendations, provide opportunities to examine results and compare and contrast. The abundance of information at our fingertips has changed the conversation and the way we need to connect with clients. Clients don’t have trouble finding lawyers. They have trouble choosing one.  

True, it has always been about putting the client first, providing outstanding client service, exceeding expectations for client satisfaction and, importantly, earning client loyalty. Now, however, lawyers must come to clients and prospects with a stable of well-honed client development skills that highlight their uniqueness and enable them to distinguish themselves.

How will you stand out? How will you be the one that is chosen?

Here are some action steps that will move you toward making this new kind of connection:

  • Go into each meeting with a trio of powerful questions. Ask open-ended questions that let you unpeel the onion to get to the core of the thought, for this is where real business development conversations take place. Open-ended questions get you to concerns, motivations and pain points. When you plan your questions in advance, it’s far easier to have the conversation. 
  • Listen more. Talk less. Listen at least 60% of the time. As is often said, “The person who thinks it was a wonderful meeting is the one who did most of the talking.”
  • Make the client your friend. Connections are often a combination of the personal and the professional. Remember, a client is a friend with a problem.
  • Probe for your prospect’s perception of value. What are the factors upon which you will be evaluated beyond the givens? What will help you exceed expectations in order to be memorable and engender loyalty? What are the specifics that keep your client feeling important to you, even after the sale is closed?
  • Steer the conversation so it is always about the client. They know about you. You want to know about them. And they want you to know about them. Please remember this dictum as well, “Clients don’t care how much you know; they want to know how much you care.”

Everyone can do this. There is no one right way.

Know your strengths. Play to your strengths. Take advantage of your strengths. Go for it!

A version of this article was originally published in The Legal Intelligencer.