I’ve never been backward in coming forward when it comes to the importance of strong sales processes in legal firms. Let’s face it, most firms rely on their costs agreement being signed as the principal document to effect the sale. Once your costs agreement is signed, you start work. That’s great. It satisfies the requirements for the relevant law, but does it really work in your favour as part of the process to secure the instructions? I think it hinders the relationship with the client and adds nothing to the confidence of the client in agreeing to spend their money with you. I understand that it’s required, but how many clients really read it? How many of them know what it says?
The salesperson has ONE outcome they want to achieve: Take the order.
From a professional services perspective, taking the order is having the client agree to the services you provide.
Any sales document in a professional services firm must outline:
1. What the client’s objectives are. These must be the objectives that the client has told you, not what you think they are or worse still, what you think they should be
2. When the client will know that they have achieved their objectives. This is critical as it cements the timeframe to achieve them
3. What the value to the client will be when they achieve their objectives. This is the value they attribute to their outcomes, not the value you think it is worth to them. Sometimes you do need to dollarise the impact for them.
These 3 points are the foundations of your sales process. If you are crystal clear on: what they want to achieve, when they know they will have achieve it, and what achieving the outcomes will mean to them, then you can develop your proposition around these 3 things. Objectives, measures and value.
Your sales document might provide your client with a number of options for them to choose from. Each option must work to achieve your client’s objectives, with each option providing them with more value from your end, making it easier for them to achieve their objectives.
Option 1 might be a letter of advice.
Option 2 might be Option 1 plus a legal document
Option 3 might be Option 2 plus the facilitation and implementation of the completion of the contract on their behalf.
By providing your clients with options that make it easier for them to achieve their objectives, they get to choose what they want you to do for them. A key sales strategy is to ensure that the client feels in control of their buying decision. Providing them with options achieves this. Yes, you still need to price it and include your pricing in your sales letter, but the client is in control of what they buy. They get to choose option 1, 2 or 3. You don’t give them a single yes/no option which is what happens with a costs agreement. It also helps you increase the average sale value of a matter. Providing them with a standard costs agreement makes them feel out of control. Not a process conducive to strong sales success.
All of this can be included in a letter to ensure you have clear instructions from the client. Once they sign it, and choose their option, then you can prepare a costs agreement and get them to sign it. I call this sales letter an “Implementation Plan”, not a proposal or a quote. This is how we are going to IMPLEMENT the actions to achieve your objectives. this is the basis of your costs agreement. It might seem like another step, but I can guarantee you that clients will appreciate it and have less buyers remorse as they feel they are in control.
Stop using your costs agreement as your core sales document. Use an Implementation Plan with options and watch your revenue grow.