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No matter how much you spend on marketing your law firm, it will all be wasted if you have a bad intake process. Failing to have systems in place to deliver a consistent intake experience results in missing out on new client opportunities as well as important metrics that allow you to manage and respond to incoming leads. And without the ability to measure your intake performance, you will not be able to improve or predict your law firm’s growth.

Here are five key steps you need to take in order to perfect your law firm’s intake process:

#1: Fast response.

A number of research studies have been conducted over the years seeking to measure how quickly a lead goes from hot to cold. The consensus is that five minutes is the golden rule in responding to an incoming lead for B2C companies. This is what you should be striving for.

Now, a five-minute response does not mean a consultation needs to happen within that brief time period. It means simply responding, and lawyers don’t have to be — and really shouldn’t be — the ones to respond. Depending on the size of your firm, you need someone (or a team) responsible for monitoring all your lead sources — phone, website, live chat, PPC, etc. — and responding as rapidly as possible.

If you lack the personnel to handle intake, consider the use of outsourced call and live chat operators so there is always someone to answer a potential client’s call, text, or chat. Shared calendar technology also allows others to schedule appointments for attorneys while they are off doing something else.

#2: Consistent messaging and training.

One of the biggest mistakes consumer law firms make is to have a receptionist with no sales experience responsible for intake. Probably the only thing worse is assigning it to an attorney or paralegal. That’s because, based on our experience of assessing the intake practices of hundreds of law firms through “secret shopping,” they are all terrible at it 99% of the time.

You need at least one person in your firm who is responsible for intake — more if your lead volume calls for it. At the Rainmaker Intake University, we provide training exclusively for law firm intake staff on everything they need to know to convert leads into appointments through role-playing exercises, call analysis, real-time coaching with live calls, and much more.

#3: Prospect’s preference for communicating.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have become accustomed to home deliveries for groceries and other needs, teleconferences with their doctors for medical issues, and handling other necessities without leaving home. So traveling to an attorney’s office may be an inconvenience for them. By now, you should have adapted to this reality and can handle initial consultations via Zoom or other teleconferencing platforms.

While most prospects still reach out to lawyers via the phone, there are those that prefer email, live chat, or filling out a lead form on your website. Whatever way they reach out to you, realize that they have chosen that way for a reason. Consider responding using the same method as the prospect did in contacting you. Don’t put up hurdles for prospects or they will simply go to the next lawyer on the list.

#4: Lead tracking/CRM system.

You need a system to track leads to ensure you are following up on every one that comes in. This is not the same as your practice management system; a lead tracking system is essentially a customer relationship management (CRM) system that gives you important insights into how your firm is performing when it comes to converting leads into clients. A good lead tracking system can also give you critical information about how your team is performing — for example, which attorneys are better at signing new clients.

We’ve found that what excites attorneys the most about our Rainmaker Lead Conversion System is the ability to keep engaging prospects without lifting a finger through a series of automated emails, follow-up messages, e-sign documents, online appointment bookings, and more.

#5: Lead nurturing.

Only a few of your prospects will become clients right away, and you don’t want them to forget about you when they may need your help in the future. This is where lead nurturing comes in, keeping you in touch with each prospect instead of hoping they remember you. Sending an educational series of emails or texts about the problem they contacted you about in the first place ensures that when they are ready to make a choice, all they have to do is respond to one of your emails or texts.

Over the last 20+ years, we have developed a proven intake and lead conversion system that has doubled the conversion rates of thousands of attorneys across the nation. If you want to know our expert, data-driven opinions on the best strategies for your online marketing efforts, we recommend you take advantage of a 30-minute consultation audit with one of our legal marketing experts. Click below to schedule your complimentary consultation.