I admit it. I cannot sell. I stink at selling. That’s me, the person who couldn’t sell water to a thirsty man. I fear selling. I think of used car and insurance salesmen when I think of selling. My skin crawls when I think of selling.
When I opened my firm in 2009, my main resistance was to the idea that I would have to sell. (Insert all manner of icky sound effects here). But I put on my big girl panties and began. With the help of Alexis Neely, my friend and mentor, I learned to overcome my panic-attack inducing fear of selling—to find myself not only good at it, but enjoying it!
Now, it’s my turn to offer support to other attorneys who are facing the same fears, the same questions. Just last week, a new attorney having his first client interaction, “How do I get (my prospects) to say yes?” I thought about it for a bit, and said, “Your clients will rarely say Yes! the first time you meet them. Yes! happens one step at a time.” In fact, if you’re anxious about getting them to say Yes! to you, they’ll often say NO!
Step One, then, is to let go of the need to get to Yes! Of course, you want to engage your clients, but you must remember that the “Yes!” is theirs to give, not yours to demand. Relax. Let go.
I write “Yes!” with a capital “Y” and an exclamation point because the kind of “Yes!” you want is a full bodied, totally-bought-in kind of “Yes!” not a mealy-mouthed, reluctant yes with payment delivered half-heartedly and resentfully. A client who gives the full-bodied “Yes!” is the client who loves you, speaks highly of you to others, is an ambassador in your community for your work. Without the full-bodied “Yes!” you will not experience the kind of satisfaction, joy, and presence you need to do legal work long term. Yes, you need to get paid. But you also need the affirmation that what you do is wanted, valued probably more than you need a huge paycheck.
Yes! is a process. Yes! happens after a series of smaller “yeses.” It grows with openhearted connection, education, feedback, and repetition. It doesn’t happen on the first contact with you or your firm. It may not happen for the first ten contacts with your firm. But with each time you “connect” with your client, they’re continued connection with you indicates a level of willingness, which is all you need to nurture that relationship.
The first yes to ask for from potential clients is the “Yes, you look like a friendly person” yes. Never underestimate the power of the first impression. If you have a traditional lawyer headshot on your Google page or your website, change it! Give people a reason to like you. Get a headshot that reflects who you are as a person, not what you do as a lawyer. Traditional lawyer headshots do nothing to create a sense of connection with people—in fact, they merely confirm a subconscious belief that lawyers are standoffish and smug. Give people reason to believe that you are friendly and approachable with a photo that reflects you as a person.
Then, create a Client Engagement System that will invite people to further “Yeses” from there:
Yes, I think I’ll call
Yes, I called and now I want to know more
Yes, this person is qualified to tell me what I need to know
Yes, I’m willing to let this person into to my personal life
Yes, I’m willing to take some responsibility for my desires and inventory my life
Yes, I’m willing to share more of my financial information with this person
Yes, this person gets me and knows what I want and will tell me what I need
Yes, I am willing to commit to the course of action we laid out
Yes, I am willing to pay this person to fill my wants and needs
That last Yes! then is a natural moment, not forced, not sold, but invited and accepted. And hopefully, when you do the work you’ve agreed to do well, it won’t be the last Yes! you receive from that client. It will be one among many. And they will send others to you who then are farther down the list of little yeses and more willing to find their own big “Yes!”
If selling is for you the black hole of fear it was for me, find out how Law Business Mentors can support you in facing it and mastering “Getting to Yes!” through the Client Engagement System!