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John Vander Luit

Editor, Solicitors Journal

How to have a 'conversation that converts' so more clients say 'yes' to you and your fees

How to have a 'conversation that converts' so more clients say 'yes' to you and your fees


There are three important phases to a conversation that converts a prospective client into a paying client, and you need all three, writes Michelle Peters

No matter how great you are at being a lawyer, if you aren't good at converting enquiries into paying clients (and at the right fee level), then it will be hard to have a successful practice.

Does that mean we all need to be good at 'selling' our services? Well, yes and no. If selling means getting more clients to say 'yes' to working with you '“ then yes. But if selling means 'pushing' our services onto people, then no, we don't need that to be successful in our practice.

So how can you get more clients to say yes to working with you, without selling? The answer is: get them to want to buy.

It sounds simple, but the key is how you conduct your initial consultation or meeting with a prospective client. There are three key phases to this initial conversation which, if done correctly, will make it a 'conversation that converts' '“ turning the enquiry into a paying client who doesn't quibble about your fees.

Phase 1: Find out what they really want

The first thing to find out is what is this prospective client's real goal or need? Too often we tell our clients about what we can do for them, without really finding out what they really want first. For example, they may tell you they want to sell their business or buy a property, but there's likely to be a bigger goal or desire behind that which is motivating them.

When we know what they want '“ and why '“ we can see whether they are a good fit for our services. We'll also know what is going to motivate them to buy our service, because we'll know what's important to them. The secret weapon here is listening! Instead of talking we should ask great questions and listen.

Phase 2: Help them discover whether they want or need your help to achieve their goals

If they don't know why they need your help, they aren't going to buy your services. So they need to know the benefits, for them, of getting your help.

A good way to help a prospective client see the benefits of your services is to help them understand some of the pitfalls or challenges they might face in getting the outcome that they want. That way, they can understand how they would benefit from your help to avoid those pitfalls or overcome those challenges.

This is also an opportunity to help them understand the value of getting your help. You can do this either by showing them the positive benefits of your help (how they'll be better off when you help them avoid specific pitfalls, or get the results they want faster and with less risk), or you can help them see the consequences of not getting the right help (the impact of the problems or challenges they could run into without the right guidance).

When they understand these two things, they will see the value of getting your help, and be more willing to pay your fees.

This time the secret weapon is asking great questions (and then listening). Instead of telling them that they need your service, or how they will benefit from them, ask them questions that help them see that for themselves.

Phase 3: Show them specifically how your service will help them achieve what they want

This is where many of us fall down. If the client doesn't understand how you can help them get what they want, why would they want to buy your services and pay the fee you want to charge?

It might be that you can help them achieve something they otherwise couldn't on their own, or you can help them do it faster, cheaper, or with less stress. But if they don't know that, they can't make a proper buying decision.

When you've listened to everything they've said, now you can explain how your service will meet their specific needs.

This may sound simple, but too often we get carried away singing the praises of our own services without showing the client why it is right for them. When you help them see how they would benefit from getting your help, they are much more likely to buy and to see the value in your fees.

Summary: Three phases in three words

I like to summarise these three phases into three words: investigate, diagnose, prescribe.

It's a bit like being a medical doctor '“ you listen to their problems or needs, diagnose what they need, and then prescribe a solution.

When you go to a medical specialist and they prescribe a treatment for you, does that feel like you're being sold to? No, because they are just giving you want you want. That's how you want your process to feel too.

Try out these three steps in your next initial consultation or meeting and see how it works for yourself. And if you want more details about how to run a 'conversation that converts' you can download this free guide to help you: 5 Essential Steps To Get More Clients From Your Initial Consultations.

Michelle Peters (The Business Instructor) is a former Magic Circle solicitor who helps lawyers to get more clients and increase their profits without working more hours. Find out more about Michelle, and get free resources, online trainings and workshops to help you grow your practice at

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