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Learning the difference between sales and marketing functions in a law firm is easy and turns on two very important words:

The function of marketing in a law firm is lead generation.

The function of sales in a law firm is lead conversion.

Once you understand this important distinction, you will realize the critical role both functions play in business development for law firms. Both sales and marketing are involved in business development — one creates demand (marketing) and the other fulfills that demand (sales) by converting prospects into clients.

The Role of Marketing in a Law Firm

The role of marketing is to differentiate your law firm from competitors by clearly communicating the benefits, value, and results you provide for your clients. Marketing’s job is to identify your target market, ascertain the best ways to communicate with that market, then create and refine messaging that resonates with your market in order to generate qualified leads for your law firm.

The Role of Sales in a Law Firm

The role of sales is to take the leads generated by marketing and convert those leads into clients. The sales process inside a law firm begins with the intake process, where leads are further qualified and appointments set. The important role of following up with prospects — lead nurturing — is also a sales function and can involve many points of contact: emails, phone calls, texts, in-person consultations, etc. Luckily, many of these lead nurturing functions can be automated, making it fairly effortless for law firms to keep engaging those leads until they become clients.

We know that many attorneys are reluctant to incorporate and actively deploy people trained in sales for business development. But you can’t argue with success.

Getting Higher Conversion Rates

Chris Johnson of Johnson Turner, the largest family law firm in Minnesota, talks about their decision to have non-attorney salespeople handle incoming phone calls and do consultations:

“Rainmaker introduced us to the idea of tracking conversion rates from our consults and we realized that some of our attorneys were good at consults and some not so much. From there, we learned to focus on having the better converting attorneys do the consults. Then we experimented with a non-attorney doing consults. It was at that point there was a fundamental shift in the purpose of that first consult. It was no longer a legal advice meeting. It was a meeting to sign up clients to later get legal advice. And we found that the conversion rates were actually higher with non-attorney sales. The attorneys who had initially thought it was a crazy idea actually enjoyed the fact that they weren’t spending dozens of hours a month in consults with potential clients that may never hire them. And so, it’s been a win-win for our attorneys and also for our business because we’ve seen higher conversion rates in the consults.”

Now that you hopefully understand the difference between sales and marketing in a law firm, you should be able to see the critical role each plays in attracting, engaging, and acquiring new clients — the lifeblood of your law firm!

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