I was doing some research on the weekend and I came across this question on quora:
How do you get prospective clients to come into a lawyer’s office when they call on the phone and all they want to know is “how much will the lawyer charge me to handle my case?”
and the top rated answer was:
“You don’t. Clients whose only concern is how much money their case is going to cost them are not clients that you want to deal with….”
Read on to see why this is nonsense and how you can get people in to the office and over the price hump.
First of all I can assure you that NOBODY on the planet enjoys getting a bad deal. Finding out you got ripped off can generate emotions like outrage or even humiliation.
Even billionaires detest a bad deal. Warren Buffet wouldn’t invest in a bad business or agree to an investment without having a price first just because he can afford it. Donald Trump wrote in his book The Art of the Deal that he personally chases up contractors that have overcharged him. One self help millionaire said when a restaurant recognises and overcharges him he never goes back there. These people have more than enough money. Clearly money isn’t the only reason people want a good deal. Intrinsically we hate being treated unfairly and getting a bad deal is one way this can happen.
When prospects asks you your prices on an initial enquiry some of them may have affordability concerns, but all of them want to know if you offer a good deal. They don’t want to pay for a service if they can get the same or better service from a competitor at half the cost. They don’t want to be left feeling like they have been taken for a fool.
Wanting a fair deal is the primary reason prospects ask the price, the notion they must be a bad prospect is completely wrong.
So why do some prospects ask and some don’t?
Don’t forget it’s not the actual price that is the problem. They want confirmation that you offer a good deal. Which is price relative to what you provide and to what competitor’s charge. A lot of enquiries that professional service businesses receive will come from word-of-mouth. A past or present client will have assured the enquirer that you do indeed provide a good deal. Otherwise they wouldn’t have recommended you. So these word-of-mouth prospects don’t ask the price early on because they are already confident you offer a good deal. This further verifies what I have said – it is value for money that is the biggest concern for a lot of people not the exact price.
If you monitored it I’m sure you would notice that it is the word of mouth referrals that have already been told you are good that are the ones that don’t fuss about price. It is the cold enquiries through a medium like your website that seem to ask the price early on as they have no evidence that you offer a good deal. It is your job to convince these prospects that you are a trustworthy investment.
So What Should You Do?
Even if you can give them a price on the phone you still need to build trust first.
Typically in marketing people talk a lot about the importance of being unique. Being unique has been proven to increase sales however this research is often based on consumer goods like couches. Services are a bit different. Uniqueness helps but trust is more important. If everyone says they are going to do a great job for the prospect, which is exactly what everyone says, the prospect goes with whoever they believe. That is why trust is essential for services. You have to convince them that they can trust you when you tell them you will do a good job for a worthwhile price. People who end up deciding on price alone often do that because they have no choice as none of the firms they speak to has managed to build trust so the only differentiation left is price.
Here are the stages you would typically go through on the call to build trust and sell them on the idea of either coming in for an initial consultation or to sign them up over the phone:
(0) Throughout the whole process you want to be building rapport and trust. Show empathy where appropriate. Repeating back what they say is very effective at building rapport. Giving them time to describe their problem in lots of detail helps them open up. Asking them questions will help you control the conversation which will allow you more time to build trust and strengthen the perception of your service before you give them the price.
(1) What do you offer exactly and how will it solve their problem? You should aim to make the service look ideal for them and tailor it to how they describe their problem. Normally you don’t want to claim you are the absolute number one provider. That claim will be met with skepticism which can negatively effect the trust you are trying to build.
(2) Who is providing the service is it you, your team, your manager? What is your experience and main area of expertise, what makes you different? The quality of the service is largely based on the person supplying the service and their knowledge, experience, skill, availability and systems. Not the firm that you work for. People like you provide services not logos or brands.
(3) Cover likely objections (buyer concerns) to put their mind at rest. These may include payment terms and how long the process will take.
(4) Build trust by mentioning regulatory bodies that you are part of, the number of clients you have helped over the years, awards, special memberships, testimonials on your site and any guarantees you have.
(5) Don’t forget to actually ask them to come in, don’t just answer their questions and then say “thanks, bye”. If you are going to give them fees over the phone this is the time to mention your fees now that you have finished framing the service. If your fees are competitive tell them that when you give them the price.
I’ve mentioned before that Professor Ian Cooper wrote a good book about how Lawyers can convert telephone enquiries that you may also find useful: http://cms2.icc-increaseconversionrates.co.uk/. I am not affiliated with the book in any way. Other professional service firms may find it useful too.