Making Your Fees Irrelevant to Potential Clients
No one ever built a sustainable, long-term business by competing solely on price. If you get business by being the least expensive option for your potential clients, it will be a race to the bottom (and bankruptcy court) for your practice and you personally. The irony of the whole thing is, people aren’t necessarily looking for the cheapest lawyer; they are most often looking for a good lawyer to whom they can entrust their legal problem and will be willing to pay more to get one.
Just remember these three things, in this order, and you should be fine: Place, Presentation, and Price.
The sales process begins when they first come through the door. If a potential client walks into your office in a rundown building and is directed unceremoniously to the back to meet with you in your cluttered, messy office, he or she is going to expect low fees. After all, everything in your Place screams low end. They are getting this message loud and clear before you ever shake their had and offer them a seat.
On the other hand, are they greeted by a friendly, well-dressed receptionist who offers them a cup of coffee or a bottle of water? Are they escorted to your well-appointed office containing a clean desk, nice furniture, carpet, and the like? Do you greet them in a nice suit or high end business casual clothing? If so, all of this tells the potential client that you are successful, organized, high end, and good at what you do.
Now I’m sure that your office leans far more towards the second example than the first, but you get the idea. First impressions are key, and if you want to charge high end prices, you need to display a high end image.
Just like the food at an expensive restaurant, presentation is everything! Starbucks sells coffee, just like Wawa or your local diner, but for much more. You don’t get a Large, you get a Vente, served to you by a barista, who writes your name on the cup. In this way, getting coffee becomes an experience. These little things, together, differentiate Starbucks and build the value in the minds of their customers that gets them to pay premium prices.
You need to do the same with how you present your legal services. On the one hand, you can compete on price and, without any presentation, say that you do chapter 7 bankruptcies for $1,000. Or you can give a compelling presentation: Say that you will answer all their questions, make them completely comfortable with the decision to file, be with them every step of the way as the petition is prepared, be their aggressive advocate with the trustee and the judge, help them to free themselves from the stress of debt, allow them to have money to go on nice vacations, send their kids to college, and then retire comfortably to Aruba.
Only then do you discuss . . .
. . . and say that your fee is $2,000. You have just built value in their minds to the point where they probably think it will cost more than the amount you actually quote. They will see that number as an affordable amount that represents quality services. At that point, they gotta have you represent them, and your fees become irrelevant.
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