Phone-call fear keeps prospects from calling; clients too

friday, 4 september of 2009

Phone-call fear keeps prospects from calling; clients too

by Trey Ryder

Your prospect has a problem. He doesn't know what to do. He's concerned. He's afraid. He needs a lawyer. Will he call you?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Your prospect is afraid of a problem he doesn't understand. Plus, he's afraid of a marketplace he has learned not to trust.

But here's a bigger problem: He's even more afraid of you.

I call this "phone-call fear," and define it as your prospect's fear of calling your office based on what he thinks might happen when he calls.

Notice that phone-call fear is not based on what will happen, because your prospect doesn't know that. It is based only on what your prospect is afraid might happen, based on his experience with lawyers and his perceptions about lawyers.

What's he afraid of? Lots of things, including the following:

-- He's afraid you may refuse to talk with him over the telephone.

-- He's afraid you may try to pressure him into making an appointment.

-- He's afraid you may charge him for the phone call.

-- He's afraid you may not handle his type of problem.

-- He's afraid you may not have time to help him.

-- He's afraid you may charge more than he can afford.

What else? (You can probably add several fears to this list.)

Even though prospects need your help, phone-call fear often keeps prospects from calling you. So, how do you overcome phone-call fear?

Simple. In your marketing materials and on your web site, make sure your prospects know

> You welcome their calls.

> You'll gladly talk with them over the telephone or in person, without charge.

> You'll return their calls promptly, if you aren't available when they call.

> You won't pressure them in any way.

In addition, you can offer to help prospects even if they aren't ready to speak with you.

> You can offer a fr*ee fact kit, which you will mail or e-mail to them upon request.

> You can offer information about yourself and your firm, such as your biography and the services you offer.

> You can offer educational seminars, where they can meet and talk with you in person, without the perceived pressure of an office appointment.

> You can offer to add their name to your mailing list, so they receive your newsletter, invitations to seminars, news in your area of law, announcements and more.

> You can offer your Internet Web site, which they can visit for more information.

As a lawyer, every day you fight an uphill battle of negative perceptions about the legal profession. Since your prospect doesn't know you, he could assume that "you're as bad as all the rest." The burden is on you to show that you rise above the negative perceptions -- and that you'll do everything you can to help.

The first way you demonstrate this is by providing information about you and your practice -- and by giving your prospects ways to get to know you at whatever speed they feel comfortable. The more information you provide, and the more ways you invite prospects to learn about you, the more comfortable they will be with the process.

Addendum: After a CLE seminar, in which I explained prospects' phone-call fear, the next speaker (a lawyer) came to the podium. He seconded what I said, then added that prospects aren't the only people who are afraid to call him. He discovered that even his clients are afraid to call

So don't conclude phone-call fear affects only your prospects. It could hinder communication with your clients, as well.

Make sure prospects and clients know that you welcome their calls. Also, make sure they know that if you can't help them with their problem, you'll gladly refer them to a competent lawyer who can.

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© Trey Ryder

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