The potential client cannot afford to choose the wrong lawyer. They have a certain fear or perceived risk when choosing an adviser.
Several lawyers have told us that they sometimes feel rather afraid of losing a potential client, and thus tend to cut their fees to avoid it. As another lawyer told us, if you are eventually going to lose a client, then it is better to do so at the beginning. The fact is that the lawyer does not usually realise that such fear is mutual, since the potential client cannot afford to choose the wrong lawyer. The cost of making the wrong choice can sometimes be enormous for a client. The potential client has a certain fear, to one degree or another. Remember this when negotiating the sale of your legal services: the fear is mutual. One of your functions is to reduce the risk perceived by the client.
“Potential clients try to drive prices down”. A potential client can hardly be expected to haggle over fees with someone they perceive as a reference professional; i.e., as an expert. Pay attention to your practice’s messages. Learn to create perceived value.
“You are very expensive”. This is probably the main objection of potential clients, and it is one that some of them table at the beginning of the meeting with the lawyer and which thus, consciously or unconsciously, dominates or conditions the negotiation. If you encounter such a comment, tell the potential client, for example, that they are right: “Yes, we are expensive actually”. Look at the client intently for a couple of seconds, smiling pleasantly. Proceed without being arrogant, and do not brag vacuously (“We are the best”): “With your permission, I shall now briefly explain to you why many clients use our practice, despite the fees we charge”. Provide added value. Justify your fees: accessibility by clients to partners, the lawyers’ commitment, diligence of the service, communication capacity, transparency of fees, etc. Another option is to ask the client “Why do you say this?” You will sometimes discover that the potential client has no solid arguments.
The right time to talk fees is at the end of the interaction, when the potential client already has enough weighty arguments to realise that you as a professional are deserving of their confidence. And when you have already informed them of the competitive edge of your practice and services.
© Francesc Domínguez, legal marketing and personal branding consultant, www.francescdominguez.com