Fear of embarrassment a powerful motivator; can work for you or against you!

friday, 30 may of 2008

Fear of embarrassment a powerful motivator; can work for you or against you

by Trey Ryder


Most of us go to great lengths to avoid embarrassment.

Certainly, you don't want to be embarrassed in front of your clients, colleagues or family. Employees don't want to be embarrassed in front of their co-workers or bosses. Partners don't want to be embarrassed in front of their subordinates.

You can help overcome your prospects' fear of embarrassment and make them comfortable by addressing these common reasons for embarrassment.

1. Prospects don't know how to pronounce your name. If your prospect doesn't know how to say your name, he might avoid calling you or approaching you at a seminar for fear that he might mispronounce it. If you know that some people occasionally mispronounce your name, you can help prospects avoid embarrassment by including a few words in your biography that explain how your name sounds. Three of my former clients come to mind. Bob Giauque (pronounced juke). Bob Korljan (pronounced kor-ee-on). Joe Volin (pronounced as in 'volun'-teer). A little help like this makes prospects much more comfortable.

2. Prospects can't afford your fee. If your prospect doesn't know what you would charge to handle a legal matter, he might be afraid to call you. You can help overcome his fear by (1) making fee information easily available so prospects aren't later surprised and possibly embarrassed when they learn your charges, and (2) making clear to prospects that you will work with them and welcome installment payments, if you are so inclined.

3. Prospects don't understand your explanation. No matter how simply you think you explain something, occasionally you'll discover that you are talking over your prospects' heads. Some people hesitate to say they don't understand because they don't want to look stupid. Stay alert for signs that the other person doesn't understand what you're saying. And even if your prospect doesn't admit that he doesn't understand, if you see a troubled or confused look on his face, restate your point again using different and simpler words.

4. Prospects don't know whether your initial consultation is fr*ee. Prospects might be willing to meet with you for an initial discussion, but they may not want to be obligated to pay for anything until they decide whether to hire your services. Yet if they aren't clear whether your first meeting is fr*ee, they might call one of your competitors who offers a fr*ee consultation rather than risk being embarrassed or perceived as cheap when they call your office.

You might think everyone knows your initial consultations are fr*ee. But what matters isn't what you know or what everyone else knows. All that matters is what this prospect knows, and he might not be sure. Make sure your marketing materials clearly spell out the cost, if any, of an initial meeting. And if the first meeting is fr*ee, make this absolutely clear: 'You're welcome to meet with me for fr*ee, without cost or obligation of any kind.'

5. Prospects don't know whether you'll accept their case. In most instances, your prospect's case must meet certain criteria before you will accept it. Can you imagine how a person feels -- after facing a legal problem and then deciding to call a lawyer -- when he hears the lawyer say, "Sorry, your case doesn't measure up"? The lawyer probably won't use those exact words, but the meaning clearly comes through.

And so on.

You talk with prospects all the time. You know how clearly you explain their problems and the solutions you can provide. But realize that while all this information is second nature to you -- (you could probably explain these things in your sleep!) -- the information is new to your prospect.

Also, if your prospect has a legal problem, the stress he feels from that problem -- plus the other things on his mind -- mean that he is probably not absorbing information as quickly or precisely as he usually does. So cut your prospect some slack. Realize that only part of what you're saying is actually sinking in. Go the extra mile to make sure your prospect understands what you want him to know.

If you don't, you could lose a client without ever knowing why. And the reason may be because he was not clear about something but was too embarrassed to tell you.


You can take advantage of your prospect's fear of embarrassment by making clear all the ways your prospect will avoid embarrassment by hiring you.

Here are a few examples:

Estate Planning: If you hire me to create your living trust portfolio, everything in your estate plan will remain private. Your spouse and family will never have to go through the embarrassment of having their personal affairs -- and dirty laundry -- strewn throughout courthouse records, as happens during a probate. Your neighbors will never know that you don't have the amount of money you told them you had. And your friends will never find out that your favorite diamond is really fake, a fact that would be disclosed in probate records when the stone is appraised.

(You would do well to make these statements more tactfully than I stated them here.)

Personal Injury: If you hire me to represent you in your accident claim, you can be sure I'll work hard to get you the amount of money you deserve. You certainly don't want to handle the case yourself, and then be embarrassed when one of your friends tells you that he got three times the amount of money you received for a similar injury. Also, if you try to work with the insurance adjuster, you will probably feel embarrassed by your lack of knowledge. Once the adjuster realizes how little you know, he will try every trick in his book to get you to settle for a fraction of what your case is really worth.

Business Law: If you hire me to negotiate this deal for you, I think you'll come away with a far better result than if you hired a less experienced lawyer. After all, your opponent has a battery of high-powered lawyers working to protect his interests. If you don't hire equally skilled counsel, the word will get around that you were out-gunned during the negotiation, which will clearly hurt your reputation in your industry.

As you build your marketing argument, consider the many ways your prospect might be embarrassed -- in front of different groups -- if he doesn't hire your services. Ask yourself, How will this person be embarrassed in front of his family? How will he be embarrassed in front of his colleagues? How will he be embarrassed in front of his vendors?

Then explain to your prospect how you will protect him from embarrassment when he hires your services.

Here are steps you can take to help protect your prospect.

1. Make sure your marketing materials answer every question your prospects might ask. Because if they don't, your prospect might be too embarrassed to raise the question himself.

2. Work hard to overcome anything that might embarrass your prospect during the process of hiring your services. If he thinks he might be embarrassed in front of you, your prospect might go to another lawyer.

3. Make sure your prospect knows all the ways you will insulate him from embarrassment. Make sure he clearly understands that by hiring your services, you'll take the heat for him, you'll protect him, and you'll work hard to see that he gets the best possible result.


© Trey Ryder

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