Nine-out-of-ten law firms admit they need to be more proactive selling services to clients


Press Release - November 2010

London, 11 November 2010 -- With the future threat from Alternative Business Structures (ABSs), high street law firms admit they need to be more proactive in selling their services to clients, according to a poll conducted by solicitors’ network Caven.

Nine-out-of-ten (91%) law firms questioned about how they generate new business for the practice agreed they needed to do more to sell their services to existing and new clients.

The survey of Caven member solicitors also revealed that only (52%) of those firms questioned have actually cross-sold additional services to clients, and (50%) confessed they never or only occasionally made a follow-up call after providing a quote to a prospective client.

Only 38% of solicitors surveyed believed there was a need for a sales person/team within the structure of their firm, while 14% did not believe someone working specifically on promoting or cross-selling their services would benefit the firm and 48% were undecided either way as the benefits of having a dedicated sales team.

Of those firms that did contact clients to generate new business, 58% said they arranged seminars, 51% distributed regular newsletters and 81% attended face-to-face networking events.

When it comes to actually calling a client to sell additional services, three quarters (75%), of those polled said it would normally be one of the solicitors that made the call, although 16% of those firms surveyed did admit that the receptionist/secretary would often make any sales calls.

Although law firms are forbidden under SRA rules from cold calling private individuals, they are allowed to cold call businesses, but only 14% of solicitors polled said they had ever cold-called local businesses to try and secure commercial work, despite the potentially lucrative nature of such work.

Dan Watkins, director, solicitors’ network Caven, comments:

"There continues to be reluctance amongst solicitors to proactively sell their services to the general public, but if many law firms are to survive and prosper in the ABS era, this is an area they will need to address. Solicitors will need to become much more tuned into the idea of having a dedicated sales and marketing team or person promoting and selling their services. They need to maximise new business opportunities, particularly if they are going to compete with the likes of Tesco, who you can guarantee will be throwing money at marketing to promote their legal offering.

“At the very least, it should be standard procedure in all firms to call back all prospective clients who have been given a quote. Many lawyers fall into the trap of thinking it's only a will or a conveyance or a contract that the client needs, and as a result fail to make that all important call to the prospect to see if they have any concerns, and do they wish to proceed. But that is a very short-term viewpoint, as research shows that for each £1,000 that a new client spends, they and their contacts will return to the firm to spend another £3,000 in the long-term. Put in that context, solicitors are really missing a trick if they fail to spend any time  following-up with prospects, whether they make the calls themselves or instruct a dedicated sales and marketing person to make the calls.”

Alastair Redfern, senior partner at Cohen Cramer, comments:

“The problem with lawyers is that we are extremely passionate about the law, and our natural inclination when we first speak to clients is to offer legal advice, not to think about that client from a commercial standpoint.

“Alternative Business Structures are going to change all that. As an industry, we are going to have to become much more commercially tuned in, because traditional high street law firms are going to be competing head-to-head with some extremely commercially driven businesses in the future. We need to have the mindset that yes we are lawyers, but we should be thinking of ourselves more as business people whose product just happens to be the law.

“As a firm, Cohen Cramer has adopted a much more sales friendly approach. When we have that initial conversation with a client, we use telephone sales scripts that lay out exactly what the client is going to receive with a particular product, broken down step-by-step, and how much that product will cost. There is definitely a client demand to know up front ‘what am I spending and what am I getting for my spend?’

“For many of us who practice law, this may go against all our natural instincts, but if we don’t adopt a more commercially minded approach now, you can guarantee that others will do in the future.”

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

1. The poll of UK-based solicitors was carried out in November 2010.

2. Additional (anonymous) comments from solicitors polled:

“I hate being cold called so why do it to others? I also dislike being cross-sold so why should I do it to others? Experience suggests clients and solicitors gravitate to suitable links without pushy sales methods. A sales force would seriously degrade a sound firm's reputation.”

3. For more information please contact:

Jonathan Stevens, Rhizome PR
020 7851 4757 | 0020 7851 475779

4. About Caven
Caven works with more than 5,000 solicitors located throughout the UK, who can help individuals and businesses in all areas of law. These include family, employment, litigation, commercial, personal injury, will & probate, immigration and conveyancing.

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