The legal field is changing. Now it’s not just enough for lawyers to excel in the courtroom; they need to be able to market and sell themselves as well. Lawyers need to know their target client’s needs, how their law firm will attempt to address those needs and the relative costs involved with solving the client’s problems.
Despite the fact that attorneys sometimes protest the appellation — that is the lawyer being named a salesperson — that’s how businesses succeed. It is absolutely true that lawyers who spend their time crafting their sales skills make more money than lawyers who do not.
However, the one requirement for personal selling is that you have to have a conversation with the prospect. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you close 90% of your sales conversations if you never have the conversations to begin with. You’re closing 0% of the conversations you never have.
This is why intake systems are so important to lawyers. Even lawyers who are great salespeople usually have to bill some of the time. Even if they’re out at marketing events, a problem persists; no one is available all of the time. Yet, leads demand around the clock access and modern consumers need to be engaged immediately. If they’re not, they’re moving on to your competition. In client intake, there are no second chances.
As an attorney, you already understand that conversations are the cornerstone for acquiring business. Those conversations help to develop the know-like-trust triumvirate that is the touchstone of any sales lever. So, if you can’t be there 24-7, someone else has to start those conversations with otherwise impatient consumers.
The Value of a Virtual Receptionist
This is where a virtual receptionist service comes in.
Providing for a conversational response to any lead that calls at any time — whether it’s you talking, an in-office receptionist or a virtual receptionist (or a combination thereof) — gives you the chance to convert that lead.
That fact alone should be enough to send you scurrying to contract with a virtual receptionist service, but there are additional advantages attendant upon that arrangement, including the following, non-exhaustive list:
You Can Sleep Again
Lawyers have a hard time powering down their smartphones. It’s urgency addiction bred by business necessity. In the high-pressure, high-stakes environment of legal practice, rapid response time can be essential. This is especially true of attorneys who work for themselves or who manage practices.
Those lawyers are always waiting to pounce on the next referral or direct client interaction. So, they leave their phones on, all day and all night, so they won’t miss the next call or email expressing a desire to make an imminent hiring decision. With a virtual receptionist, you can turn off your phone, go to sleep, and let your new after-hours call answering staff handle it all.
You Can Establish Workflows
Another way to spend more of your time on billing or client-generating activities is to build out workflows and automation for your business processes. This way, you don’t have to be involved in as much of the administrative work that drives the day-to-day operations of your practice.
Hiring a virtual receptionist service means that you will no longer have to pick up the phone in the first instance. It also means that the virtual staff you access through your provider will also be able to ramp up an intake process, by adding new leads to CRM or case management tools and by setting up appointments for you, among other activities.
You Can Reduce Your Overhead
Of course, if you view the above-referenced advantage through the lens of staffing, it means that your relationship with a virtual receptionist service will allow you to reduce your staff requirements, or avoid hiring additional staff in the first place.
Another option is to ramp up or ramp down staffing requirements as needed, and based on volume or seasonality. For example, your virtual receptionist could take calls after hours, where your secretary takes those calls during regular business hours.
You Can Increase Your Revenue
This is an easy one, right? Convert more leads, make more money. Maybe that’s all you need to know.
About the Author
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms. Red Cave also works with legal institutions and legal-facing corporations to develop programming and content. A former practicing attorney, Jared has been advising lawyers and law firms for over a decade. He is a regular presenter at local, regional and national events, including ABA TECHSHOW. He regularly contributes to legal publications, including his column, ‘Managing,’ for Attorney at Work, and his ‘Law Practice Confidential’ advice column for Lawyerist. Jared is the author of the American Bar Association publication ‘Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers’. He is the host of the Legal Toolkit podcast on Legal Talk Network. Jared also teaches for Concord Law School, Suffolk University Law School and Solo Practice University.
Follow Jared D. Correia, Esq. on Twitter for more great tips on running a technology-enabled firm @RedCaveLegal