From our last article, 4 Sure-Fire Tips for Effective Lead Follow-Up, we learned that it’s critical to follow-up quickly and to nurture your leads. But how do you do this most effectively and efficiently? Having a lead management process in place enables you to systematically track and nurture your leads from when they first come in through sign-on. This will not only make sure you don’t miss opportunities, but also reveal which marketing efforts are working well or not. Technology options now available also enable you to automate the process to save time.
What should you track?
Lead management should address tracking leads by lead source and across different status levels of the sales cycle with the final status being retention or a closed deal. Many attorneys lack such processes and continue to manage leads within Outlook or another email program—this is a big mistake. Outlook is where leads go to die. Without visibility into the status or details of the intake, you may not be able to nurture them effectively.
Even an Excel spreadsheet is better than your email inbox—the key is having a dedicated system where you can track lead status, conversation details, touch points and other important activities involved with nurturing the lead.
Beyond Excel, there are several contact relationship management (CRM) systems available. We’ll discuss this further below.
Why do you want to track lead source?
Lead source should tell you which advertising or other effort most likely resulted in or influenced a new client to sign-up with you. This is particularly important if you’re paying a lead generation or other advertising service. All too often, attorneys pay too much for the leads they get simply because they don’t know how many leads they actually got from the service.
So, be sure to create a column on your spreadsheet or to fill-in the Lead Source field on your CRM to track whether you got the lead from say your lead generation service, directory profile, email, trade show or networking. These are common lead sources, but really you can create any other categories to track more specifically.
What’s the status and appropriate next step?
Once you’ve moved your lead into your lead management system, assign the lead a status. This helps you keep track of your inventory of potential new cases and enables you to engage them with the appropriate activities:
- New Lead: These are leads with which you have not yet engaged. To nurture leads during this stage, you need to 1) make initial contact and 2) put them in drip campaigns to nurture them to the next stage. If a lead has expressed a high level of interest in engaging with you, reach out to them with an initial phone call. If you don’t reach them the first time, a follow-up text message is appropriate.
At Nolo, we see about 30% return call rates on such text messages, partially due to the fact that a vast majority of people screen their calls. A non-intrusive text message is a good reminder for people to act on their initial desire to reach out to a law firm. To supplement this activity, an email drip campaign can be effective, as well, particularly if the lead doesn’t respond to the first text message.
- Under Review: Once you’ve connected with the lead, the next step is to review the case to determine whether or not you want to take it on. In this stage, you must collect all the information to make your decision. Ideally, you’ll be able to gather most of the pertinent information during the initial phone call, but not always. Don’t leave a lead in this stage for too long; the goal is to move it into the “scheduled” stage or disqualify it quickly.
- Sign-On: Once you qualify a lead, send them a sign-up package immediately. You can mail this via FedEx to try to engage the client, while selling them on why they should engage with your firm with additional email sends. Remember, virtually everyone you’re talking to is also talking to other lawyers—make sure you continually and actively engage the lead until they sign with you, to head off any competitors who might also be nurturing the same lead. You’ll probably only want to take on about 30% of the leads that come your way, so your goal should be to sign up 100% of your qualified leads.
- Retained/Scheduled: This stage is pretty self-explanatory. The lead is your client now, so the next step is the schedule an appointment.
- Referred: You may find you have too many cases to take on another one, but don’t discard the lead—refer them to another firm. You may be able to collect a referral fee, and you’ll create good karma for future reciprocal referrals.
- Turned down: This status identifies leads that didn’t sign with you. Keeping these leads in your system enables you to perform end-of-quarter or end-of-year analysis to help you fine-tune your marketing tactics, to be sure you’re attracting prospects with cases that align with your practice. It may also help you identify areas for improvement—such as your staff’s service quality or your overall approach to intake.
Technology options for automation
A number of contact relationship management (CRM) systems are available to help you manage and track your leads through to signing, including Captorra, Velocify, Law Ruler, Lexicata or Lead Docket. Make sure the one you choose offers the following capabilities:
- The ability to integrate seamlessly with your website and lead generation efforts
- Intake management to accurately track and follow up on the status of intakes and outside referrals
- Design and distribution of intake questionnaires
- Collection of additional data and scheduling
- Integrated text messaging and drip email campaign execution for Nurturing leads
- Generation of real-time dashboards and reporting for tracking inventory, status and lead source
- Integrated e-Sign technology to simplify and accelerate the sign-on process
Learn how Martindale-Nolo can readily integrate lead generation with an effective contact management system.