In a previous article, I discussed your prospect’s buying process. Here, I’ll take a look at how you can align your marketing with those stages in the buying process.
Step 1 – Prospecting
The first stage of your prospect’s buying process is awareness. So, your first step in marketing to them is to help them realize that they do have a problem and it is important that they take action to get it solved quickly.
How to do this? You are trying to find prospects that might have a need for your services, so you must educate them about your problem. The best ways to do this are to offer complementary reports, free evaluations, or invite them to an event, seminar, or webinar that you are giving. You want to trade information that will help them understand their problem for their contact information and get their permission to continue to keep in touch with them.
The goal here is not to close the sale but to collect their contact information and to keep in touch. Remember the buying process. Your prospect won’t be ready to buy. They’ll be looking for information on how to make their purchase, what criteria they should be looking for, what might best fit their needs, and how to go about selecting a lawyer. At this stage, they’ll be just starting to gather information about whether their problem is significant enough for them to purchasing a solution.
Step 2 – Nurturing
Now that you have their contact information, you can keep in touch, offering them other information to generate interest in your services while help them in making a decision. Here, you check in with prospects on a regular basis while reminding them that you’re still in business and have solved similar problems for other companies. This stage is about building rapport with prospects while demonstrating your expertise.
The goal here is with repeated exposure, you position yourself as someone who might be a good fit for them when they are ready to select a law firm. Remember, prospects in this stage are now collecting information so this stage can last a few weeks to months. Other projects come up. Life happens. So, it usually takes repeated exposure for prospects to eventually contact you.
Step 3 – Qualifying
At this stage, your prospect has decided to move forward and is ready to contact lawyers about potential solutions. So they call you. Now, not everyone that calls you will be ready to buy. Some will still be in the information gathering stage. Others will be a bad fit for your company, so you’ll turn them down.
Your goal is to weed out those that are serious about buying from those that are still looking for information. That doesn’t mean throwing away anyone that’s not ready to meet with you – those names should go back in your nurturing database.
Now, let’s look at what makes a lead qualified. Generally, determining what “qualified lead” is requires a number of meetings between sales and marketing. Here, you need to ask “What do you consider a qualified lead? What characteristics do your ideal prospects have? Who is involved in the buying process?”
Typical answers usually include:
- Does the inquirer have a specific need for a service you provide?
- Are they a decision maker?
- What is their time frame for purchasing?
- Do they have the money to pay for your service?
- Is the size of the opportunity worth your time and effort?
- Are they ready to speak to someone at your firm?
- Have they said anything that might throw up a red flag (ie they were rude to your assistant, they’ve worked with 3 other lawyers prior to contacting you, they have grandiose expectations)?
Step 4 – Sales
Once a lead has been qualified, you will probably have a phone or face-to-face consultation to evaluate whether your firm can help the prospect. At this stage, your prospect is most likely evaluating a short list of lawyers, so it’s up to you to sell yourself and your services here. That doesn’t mean pitching them. Rather, sales means asking lots of questions about the project, showing them that you understand their situation and concerns, demonstrating your expertise, asking for the business and hopefully closing the deal.
It may take more than one consultation with a prospect to understand their motivations for buying and craft a solution that meets their needs. With complex sales (such as large business deals), there are often numerous decision makers and layers of management who must all buy into your proposed solution, so don’t be surprised if this stage lasts awhile.
Step 5 – Customer Satisfaction
With professional services, once the deal has been closed, the working relationship begins. Now, your task is to manage expectations and keep your client happy until the work is complete. You can evaluate how well you’ve done by giving client satisfaction surveys, conducting interviews, and asking for referrals.
Your marketing efforts will be most effective when they are in parallel with your prospect’s buying process. This means that each communication you have with prospects should encourage them to take the next step in their buying process. To do so, you must think about how different types of prospects would go about purchasing your services, and adjust your marketing and sales processes accordingly.