A potential client is sitting across from you. You are evaluating him, looking for signs this will be a good case, or the right fit. You are watching for red flags. Then he asks a question: “Have you done this before?” All of a sudden the tables are turned and you are the one being evaluated.

Marketing doesn’t end when a client picks up the phone. A key part of marketing is being able to close the deal. For attorneys, that usually happens in the form of an initial consultation, either in person or on the phone.

What many attorneys forget is that this consultation is a two-way evaluation. It’s not just about deciding if you can – or want to – help the client. It’s also when they get a feel for you.

One way they do that is ask questions about your experience. And your answers can be the difference between losing an hour and gaining a client.

When I first opened my practice four years ago, I was afraid of questions like:

“Have you done this before?”

or, even worse:

“What’s your win percentage?”

I was afraid for two reasons:

  1. I had a very small sample size because I was just starting out; and
  2. I simply didn’t know how to¬†answer.

During my first year in practice I was the Associate at a small firm. I would appear in court and handle all the in-office work, but none of the cases were mine. So I wasn’t clear on whether the wins, losses, and settlements counted. Then when I went out on my own, I didn’t even bother to count.

So when a potential client asked me how often I won, negativity bias kicked in and all I could remember was that one domestic violence case I lost, or the fact that, no I’d never handled a paternity case on my own before, even though I’d done the work on several. That negativity showed on my face and in my answers, and I am certain it lost me clients.

So how should you respond when someone asks evaluative questions during a consultation? Sally Schmidt from Attorneys @ Work has put together a great suggestion for tracking your cases. The table she recommends will give you real answers to the client’s questions. In addition, objective measurements will give you a better idea of your success.

When a client asks “Have you done this?” a quick survey of your table will let you answer: “I’ve handled 3 small business mergers in the last 5 years. One of them was also a food production business like yours.” That objective response sounds a lot stronger than “Yeah, I think I have.”

Objective measure marketing gives you smart, precise responses to clients’ questions about your experience and professional expertise. Don’t be caught guessing. Track your cases and measure your outcomes. It will help you close the deal and improve your marketing ROI.

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Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist, in Ferndale, Michigan. She helps law firms and small businesses improve their online marketing presence. If your website needs new content, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.