July 1, 2018
Creating Your Personal Sales Force
By Jeffrey F. Silber and Liza Vasquez
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
There is hardly anything more exciting for a lawyer than to receive a telephone call, text message or email that begins: “You don’t know me but when I mentioned to our mutual friend, Leon Toscano, that my company and I are looking for new legal representation, he thought that you would be ideal to handle certain matters for us ….”
After all the hours you should be investing in getting out of your office and meeting new people, that is the kind a golden moment you hope for. This kind of third-party endorsement of your work validates you, your services and all your individual marketing activities.
To be sure, this kind of endorsement can come from both satisfied clients and recent contacts. We have discussed in the past how to get referrals from your current clients, and a very brief summary is 1) do excellent legal work, 2) meet all your deadline and especially 3) build a strong human connection with your clients – know about her/his family, hobbies, vacations, what is special about his/her children, etc. If you do this, your current clients will happily pass your name and contact information on to their friends or colleagues who could benefit from your services. In that case, you may be fortunate enough to receive the type of message we have quoted above.
Or, your client may give you the contact information of someone he/she thinks could use your help. In that case you would be able to send this potential client a message like this: “Our mutual friend, Leon Toscano, suggested that I contact you because I am an attorney and he thought that I would be the appropriate attorney to handle certain matters for you. Can we arrange a mutually convenient meeting…?”
Whether a client has someone contact you or gives you the contact information of someone for you to reach out to, referrals from a satisfied client are among the best ways for a lawyer to obtain new clients. After all, a current client has already experienced you and your service, they are paying your fees, they must feel they are getting fair value for their money and most importantly, they trust you.
Trust is one of the most difficult things to develop with a potential client. When a client gives you this kind of endorsement, they are transferring their trust in you to this other person. That is why a referral from a current client is incredibly valuable.
Of course, you cannot rely exclusively on referrals from happy clients. You need to be proactive and that is why we have described so many methods for you to get out of your office in order to meet people more new people, potential clients. We have discussed with you that inasmuch as you, and basically all lawyers, have competition, it is extremely difficult to convince a potential client that you are the one for him/her based on your technical skills and knowledge. You need to emphasize the human connection to win over new clients. That is how you will be different from all the other lawyers who could provide the same service. Our motto is: First be friends (or at least friendly) and the legal work will follow.
Today we have a very special tip for you. To begin, let’s explain the theory of Six Degrees of Separation. This is the theory which states that everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. It means there are countless of inter-twined chains of “a friend of a friend” threw which any two people can be connected (in a maximum of six steps). While it is popular now, this concept was originally set out in 1929 and popularized by a 1990 play. The important thing to know is that it really works.
The theory holds that with a maximum of six intermediaries you can be in contact with anyone on the planet. For the world you want to conquer, you will not need that many levels of introductions. Most likely, to meet anyone in your city, state or country, you will not need more than two intermediaries. OK, there you have the ideas now, right?
The majority of the time, when you meet new people, they are not likely to be your targets as potential new clients. But they are extremely valuable contacts because of their “a friend of a friend” network. Let us suppose that the circle of contacts and people you know consists of fifty people: it is likely much larger than this but let us use this amount to make a point.
By extrapolation, let’s imagine that each person you meet, also has a circle of fifty contacts. Again, they are likely to know many more than 50 people, but let’s keep going. How wonderful would it be if you could access the fifty people that each of your fifty contacts know – that would be 2,500 people instead of your original fifty people. If you include just one more level of contacts, it becomes a circle of contacts of well over a hundred thousand people.
Now we will show you how to take advantage of this amazing network which you probably didn’t realize you have.
You will recall that we never want you to push your legal services. You will look desperate and the potential clients will think If you’re such a good lawyer why are you so desperate for clients? You will frighten off your best prospects. Easy does it. In fact, you should not automatically announce that you are a lawyer. Why? Everyone you will meet has had prior personal experiences with lawyers and they certainly have opinions about lawyers. You add nothing to their knowledge about you by saying that you’re a lawyer. You just re-enforce whatever they already think about lawyers in general. Based on “I’m a lawyer,” they have no idea at all how you can help them or anyone else. And frankly, in most cases, it is such a bland answer that instead of provoking the other person to ask more questions about your practice, it actually kills further conversation.
A much better alternative to telling people that you are a lawyer, which is far to general a concept, is to let them know what you do and how you can help. To illustrate, we have a client, Pamela D., she is a tax lawyer. After a conversation with a new contact about everything under the sun except legal work (she focuses on being a personal rapport with new people). The other person might ask her, Pamela, you seem like a very intelligent person. What work do you do? She used to reply, I’m a tax attorney. Frankly, this was even more boring an answer than saying I’m a lawyer. It usually stopped the conversation cold.
We have been coaching Pamela and now when asked her what she does, she replies I keep the government’s hands off of your money. This create a powerful mental image in the person’s mind and provokes questions. When asked to explain what she means by that, she follows up with I spend all day, every day, planning strategies for companies and wealth families to keep more of what they earn. Of course, I am tax attorney with Gomes, Souza & Associates.
This not only helps this new contact remember Pamela, but also this person now has a valuable piece of information about her that he or she can share with friend, colleagues or relatives.
Rita, this new contact, had lunch the following Sunday with her uncle who owns a chain of homeopathic pharmacies in Southern California. Over lunch, the uncle commented that he is having big trouble with the tax authorities and Rita said, Uncle Bill, I’m sorry to hear but it’s interesting because I met a woman this week who specializes in tax strategies. In fact, I still have her card with me. I think you should call her. And so, Pamela landed a new client through “a friend of a friend.”
This is how you can create an army of people who will be looking for opportunities to recommend you simply because people generally like to be helpful. People like to pass along a good tip. Now Rita, and Pamela’s other new contacts, will recommend her whenever someone in their circle of friends mentions they need tax help or advice. With just this one contact, Pamela added Rita’s fifty contact to her own fifty. Now, 100 people will be aware of Pamela’s services. And so, Pamela’s sales force is growing daily with each person she meets.
Let us illustrate a little further. Rodrigo, a criminal lawyer, who is also a client of ours, answers the question What do you do? like this: I fight crime but I’m not Batman! We think it is a bit too humorous, but Rodrigo says it starts interesting conversations and that is his objective.
We follow our own advice. Inasmuch as not everyone knows what Life Coaching is, when we are asked the same question: What do you do? we say We help people avoid regrets. The clients who work with us, when they look back on their lives, say that they have no regrets and had the life they wanted. Who doesn’t want to live a life free of regrets? More questions follow and then we explain that we are Life Coaches. By then, they know what we do and how we can help them. You see how this works?
Now it is your turn to think of an answer to the question What do you do? You need an answer that clearly explains what you do and what help you bring to the world. Keep in mind that your objective is not to sell this person your services, no. your objective is to get this person to remember you and what you do, so that when he/she has a friend who could use your service, you are the one that will come to mind, and they will recommend you. If you can include some words that concur up a memorable image, you will be doing a good job.
There you have you your homework assignment. Write an answer to the question: You seem like an interesting person. What do you do? If you get this right, you will create your own personal sales force that will comb the world looking for clients for you.
If you want, send us your answer to this question, and we will give you some feedback. We will let you know if we think you answer accomplishes the objective.