Marketing a law firm comes with many challenges. One of the most often overlooked aspects, yet one of the most important, is the initial phone intake process. This first point of contact can render your other marketing efforts moot if done incorrectly. Your phone intake staff needs to be equipped to handle the common roadblocks and objections that come up during this initial contact. One of the most difficult questions that phone intake staff deal with is the “price question.”
The question of cost looms large in the minds of potential clients, presenting your intake team with a precarious task – addressing this issue without discouraging the caller or undervaluing your services.
In this article, we address this issue head-on, offering insights on how to approach cost-related queries during initial phone intakes. Our aim is to help law firm owners train their teams to not only handle price questions efficiently but also to use these interactions as opportunities to demonstrate the value that your firm offers.
We’ll share practical tips and provide a cheat sheet that you can adjust to fit your needs and share with your intake team. By the end, you will be better equipped to field cost-related questions, manage price shoppers, and, ultimately, create a positive first impression on potential clients. Let’s dive in to explore how you can turn these early pricing discussions into a strategic advantage for your law firm.
Understanding the “Price Question”
The “price question” often surfaces early in phone conversations with prospective clients. It’s an understandable query. Legal services can represent a significant investment, and most people want to know upfront whether they can afford it and if it’s worth it. However, this straightforward question is more complex than it might seem on the surface.
First, it’s essential to grasp what prospects are really asking when they inquire about price. They are looking for an overall picture, a range of potential costs for their case. A straightforward hourly rate will not satisfy this query, as it lacks the context of how many hours their specific case might take.
Quoting an hourly rate without context can be misleading and may even discourage potential clients. They could perceive a lawyer’s hourly rate as unaffordable, not understanding that their case may not require many billable hours. On the other hand, they may underestimate the total cost if the case turns out to be more time-consuming than expected. This can lead to dissatisfaction and potential disputes down the line.
For these reasons, discussing price during the initial call requires a delicate balancing act. Your team needs to provide enough information to satisfy the prospect’s immediate concerns while emphasizing that the final cost will depend on a variety of factors, many of which can only be determined after a more in-depth discussion about their case.
In the next sections, we’ll explore how to classify prospects based on their price concerns and how to effectively address these questions, keeping the conversation focused on the prospect’s needs and the value your firm offers.
Types of Price Shoppers and How to Address These Prospects
Understanding the intentions and circumstances of your callers is key to handling the price question effectively. Broadly, prospects who ask about price upfront fall into two categories:
- Those who can’t or aren’t willing to pay your fees and need to be screened out: This group is looking for cheap or free legal advice. You can’t help them- they need to be screened out as soon as possible.
- Those who would be willing to pay your fees but need to be nurtured: These individuals could become valuable clients. They have a need for your services, and they have the resources and willingness to invest in professional legal help. However, they have fears around price. They fear being taken advantage of or of getting ripped off. These people need reassurance about the value they’ll be receiving.
Addressing these two categories of price shoppers requires a careful balancing act. On the one hand, you want to efficiently identify and screen out the first group to save time and resources. On the other hand, you want to nurture the second group, demonstrating your value and establishing a relationship that can lead to a successful engagement.
To accomplish this, your intake team needs to be trained to handle price inquiries. They should be equipped to subtly steer the conversation towards understanding the prospect’s needs and explaining how your firm can help, before diving into specific numbers. This approach allows them to demonstrate your value and expertise before addressing cost, setting the stage for a more productive discussion about fees.
Handling the price question effectively is not just about providing an answer; it’s about showing empathy, understanding the prospect’s concerns, and showcasing your value. In the next sections, we will delve into practical strategies and scripts that can help your intake team manage these conversations successfully.
The Art of Screening Out Cost-Sensitive Prospects
Recognizing that not every prospect can or should become a client is an essential part of managing your resources efficiently. One of the main objectives during the initial phone intake process should be to screen out callers who are seeking free or cheap legal help.
You don’t want to be wasting free consultations on people who have no intention of ever paying a reasonable price for your services. To do this effectively, your intake team can use a combination of qualifying questions or statements to assess the caller’s financial situation and expectations.
Ask about their budget:
One method is to ask prospects about their budget for legal representation. This not only helps assess their financial capacity but also provides a gentle way to communicate that professional legal services are an investment.
For instance, the intake specialist could say: “Before we proceed, I just want to let you know that these cases usually cost a minimum of $2,500 and go up from there depending on the specifics of the case. Is this something that would fit within your budget?”
Be upfront about fees:
Another approach is to discuss your fee structure openly, emphasizing the quality and value of your services.
A potential statement could be: “Our firm is committed to providing high-quality legal services, and our fees reflect the expertise and experience of our attorneys. While we understand that cost is an important factor, we want to ensure that our services align with your financial expectations. Are you prepared to invest in professional legal representation to achieve the best possible outcome for your case?”
Inquire about their financial situation:
Directly asking about the prospect’s financial situation can provide valuable insights into their capacity to afford your services. However, such questions should be asked respectfully and empathetically.
An example question might be: “To help us better understand if our services are a good fit for you, can you please tell us a bit about your financial situation? For example, are you currently employed, and do you have any financial constraints that we should be aware of?”
Mention alternative options for those with financial constraints:
For prospects who indicate they may not be able to afford your services, providing information about alternative options can demonstrate empathy and care, leaving a positive impression of your firm even if they can’t become a client right now.
For instance, the intake specialist might say: “If you are facing financial constraints and are unable to afford our services, there are alternative options available, such as seeking assistance from legal aid organizations. We can provide you with some resources if that’s something you would like to explore.”
By using these strategies, you can save time and resources by quickly identifying prospects who may not be able to afford your firm’s services and guiding them towards more suitable alternatives. In the next sections, we’ll delve into the specifics of price discussions and how to maximize the value of the free consultation.
Scripted Client Intake Process
Employing a scripted approach during initial phone intake can streamline conversations and ensure a consistent level of service for all potential clients. This approach is particularly useful when addressing sensitive topics such as pricing, guiding your intake team to handle these discussions professionally and empathetically.
Why Use a Scripted Approach
A well-prepared script (or “cheat-sheet”) offers many benefits. It ensures that all important information is collected and that conversations stay focused on the value your firm provides. By steering the dialogue towards the legal services your firm offers, the intake specialist can redirect the focus from cost alone.
Uniformity in client interaction is another advantage of a scripted approach. Regardless of the intake specialist they speak with, every caller will receive the same high standard of service and information.
Remember, a script is not a monologue but a guideline. It should be flexible enough to allow personalization based on the caller’s specific needs and emotions, making each conversation unique yet effective.
Walkthrough of a Scripted Interaction
Let’s consider an example of an interaction where the prospect asks about pricing at the very beginning:
Intake Specialist: “Thank you for calling [Law Firm Name]. My name is [Intake Specialist’s Name]. How may I assist you today?”
Prospect: “Hi. I’m calling to find out how much you charge for [specific legal service].”
Intake Specialist: “Thank you for your interest in our services. Our firm is committed to providing high-quality legal services. We’re not the cheapest, but we’re not the most expensive either. Our fees are competitive and reflect the expertise and experience of our attorneys. Pricing varies depending on the specifics of each case, but the overall cost for this type of matter usually starts at a minimum of around $3,000 and goes up from there. What other criteria, besides price, will you be using to make your decision?”
Prospect: “I was expecting this process to be an investment. Besides the cost, the experience and reputation of the attorney is important to me. I also want to make sure that I will be kept informed about my case at all times.”
Intake Specialist: “Well, we can certainly cover all that during the initial consultation. First, can I get your name?”
This interaction retains a focus on the prospect’s needs, tactfully handles their upfront cost inquiry, and ensures a connection is made between the services your firm provides and the value offered. It helps to screen out price shoppers up front without scaring away legitimate prospects with the dreaded hourly rate. And it ends by getting prospects talking about the value you will provide instead of the price they will have to pay.
And it strategically places the conversation about cost into the hands of those best equipped to handle it—the attorney or assistant during the consultation—after a proper understanding of the prospect’s case is established.
The “Free Consultation” – Clarifying Expectations
The “free consultation” is a common offer that law firms use to attract potential clients. However, it’s crucial to ensure that prospects understand what this entails to avoid confusion and miscommunication.
A free consultation does not mean free legal advice. Rather, it’s an opportunity to understand more about their case, to estimate what it will cost, and to see if there’s a good fit between them and your firm.
Your intake team should clarify this during the initial call to set accurate expectations. For example, they might say: “We offer a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. They will discuss your situation, answer your questions, and provide you with an overview of how our firm can help. Please note that while this consultation is free, it is not a provision of free legal advice. It’s an opportunity for us to understand your case better and to determine if our services suit your needs. When would you be available for a consultation?”
By clearly defining the purpose of the free consultation, you can ensure that prospects have a realistic understanding of what to expect. This can lead to more productive consultations, a smoother client acquisition process, and better client satisfaction in the long run.
Mastering the Dreaded “Price Question”
Navigating the question of pricing during initial phone intake can be a sensitive task, but it is a crucial one. How your intake team handles these inquiries can set the tone for the prospect’s entire experience with your firm.
Recall the significance of understanding what prospects are truly asking when they inquire about price. They are not merely looking for an hourly rate. They are seeking reassurance about the potential range of costs, and the value they will receive in return. It’s important that your intake team is prepared to address this concern effectively without getting bogged down in premature specifics.
Your intake team plays a pivotal role in the customer journey from interested prospect to paying client. They are the first line of communication, shaping the prospect’s first impression of your firm. With the right training and guidance, they can ably walk the tightrope of providing necessary information while still emphasizing the value your firm offers.
Free consultations can be a vital tool in your firm’s strategy. They enable a comprehensive discussion about the prospect’s case and providing an appropriate venue for the discussion of costs. This provides an opportunity for your attorneys to demonstrate their expertise, solidifying the value proposition of your services. Frankly, it can increase your close rate and your bottom line.
As a law firm owner, investing time and resources in training your intake team can pay dividends. It’s not just about equipping them to handle the price question. It’s about enabling them to offer the best first impression, building trust and showcasing the unique value your firm can provide.
Consider implementing the strategies and approaches outlined in this article in your firm. These actionable steps can guide your intake team to manage price-related queries effectively, ensuring your firm’s potential clients feel heard, valued, and assured from the very first interaction. Click here to download a free, shareable cheat-sheet.