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law firm lead generationMarketing evolves so quickly in the Internet age that sometimes businesses, and even marketers themselves, have trouble keeping up. While some take advantage of cutting edge concepts and technology, others hold firm to old ideas that still seem to work, but could actually be hindering results.

One of the most important marketing metrics for any law firm to keep track of is their qualified leads. Qualified leads allow you to go after those who are most likely to become clients, concentrating your efforts where you’re likely to get the best results. 

For a beginner’s guide, see Online Lead Generation for Lawyers

Qualified leads are generally categorized in one of two ways:

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

A prospect becomes an MQL based on some type of interaction with marketing materials. With online marketing that usually means something such as filling out a form to request more information or subscribing to an email list.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

An SQL may or may not start as an MQL, but meets some other criteria set by sales staff that indicates they are more likely to actually become a customer or client.

This type of qualification and categorization does, indeed, help to concentrate sales effort on prospects that are more likely to become clients, but, in many ways, it falls short. In reality, it is applying an old concept to a new technology.

Why The Concepts Of MQL and SQL Don’t Work In The 21st Century

The problem with the concepts of marketing and sales qualified leads is that they require prospects — even those who are ready to becomes clients right now — to slow down and take extra steps before they are connected with the person who will close the sale. This process is very much at odds with the instant gratification, get-it-done-and-give-it-to-me-now culture that we live in.

Everything moves at the speed of the Internet. When people have questions, they want to talk in real-time. When they want to buy something, they want to buy it now. Older generations barely remember the once common phrase, “Allow 4 to 8 weeks for delivery.” Younger generations would laugh at the suggestion of waiting so long for anything.

The idea of a marketing or sales qualified lead is tied to times when businesses and marketers barely had any contact at all with the people they were trying to convert into clients. Advertising was blasted out on TV, radio or newspapers and correspondence was carried out with pen and paper through the post office. Times have changed.

The Concept Of Conversation Qualified Leads

One of the biggest benefits the Internet brings to marketers is unprecedented access to the audience they are trying to reach. Two-way communication is fast, free and easy. You or anyone at your law firm can reach out and talk to your prospective clients any time you wish.

The concept of conversation qualified leads takes full advantage of the multitude of communication channels available through the Internet. It’s a concept so simple that it has been almost completely overlooked. See Slideshow: Why We Switched to Conversation Qualified Leads

Don’t make your prospects jump through hoops to get in touch with you. Make it easy for them. Just talk to them and they will tell you exactly what you need to do to convert them. Qualify your leads based on actual conversations, not arbitrary actions taken through a website or an email.

It may sound like a lot more work, but stop and think about it for a moment. Let’s look at someone who’s trying to contact you through live chat on your website or a social media platform, versus someone who’s subscribed to your email list.

Live Chat

If you or a representative of your firm speaks with a prospect through chat, you’re going to find out within a few minutes if that person is interested in working with your firm. If they are, you know exactly what they want and how to best go about converting them into a client. If they aren’t interested, you also know within a few minutes, but then you waste no more time trying to convert this person who was never going to hire your firm.

Email Subscription

When someone signs up for an email subscription, they’ve shown interest, but you don’t know exactly what they are looking for. Maybe they just want some information, but have no real intention of hiring your firm. You may have to send five, ten, or even more emails just to get them to take the next step and let you know what they really want.

The bottom line is that this person has become a qualified lead, but you still don’t know what they want or if they’ll even convert into a client. That’s not to say that this type of lead isn’t worth following up with, but you obviously get a much clearer picture of what you’re dealing with when there is a conversation involved, and you get that picture much faster.

How To Start The Conversation

Communication with prospects is not difficult. In fact, you’ve probably already got plenty of possible clients waiting to talk to you. There are four main ways of initiating the communication that leads to conversation qualified leads:

  • Live chat on your website
  • Chat bots on your website
  • Live chat through social media
  • Chat bots through social media

Live Chat

Adding the option to chat with someone live on your website can make a tremendous difference in how visitors react to your law firm’s brand. People absolutely love the idea of getting real-time answers rather than filling out a form and waiting hours or even days for someone to respond. It really goes a long way toward building trust and confidence.

There are plenty of free and paid solutions that make it easy to add live chat to any website. Once it’s set up, it’s as simple as keeping a web page open in a tab of your browser and answering basic questions when someone asks for help. Some social networks, like Facebook, will also let you chat live with your followers.

Chat Bots

It might seem a bit impersonal at first, but chat bots can also do a good job of qualifying leads while keeping up the fast pace that prospects expect.

Bots can be set up to answer the most common questions that your firm receives and then either pass new leads off to a live person, or allow the visitor to schedule follow up if nobody is available immediately.

Again, bots can be set up to interact with visitors on your website, or through social networks.

It’s The Best Of Both Worlds

In the end, other than talking directly to potential leads, your firm won’t need to change anything else in their marketing strategy. You can still use all the same advertising methods and lead processing procedures.

When someone clicks on an ad and comes back to your firm’s website, they’ll still see the same landing pages. They will just have the option to speak to someone live in addition to (or in place of) filling out a form of some kind.

When someone has been established as a lead, they’ll still be handed off to the person most able to serve their need. Nothing changes there.

What you’ve done by opening these direct lines of live communication is take full advantage of the Internet to put your absolute best leads on a fast-track to becoming clients. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The job of closing the sale is easier and the client is happier.

Your firm, quite literally, has nothing to lose and everything to gain by embracing the concept of conversation qualified leads.

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