What law firms can learn from digital sales effectiveness

Law firms, like so many other businesses, have been challenged by the increasing use of online services and the remote revolution brought about by the pandemic.

In Conversica’s recent ‘2020 Sales Effectiveness Benchmark Report’, the technology company looked at how businesses are responding to these challenges.

The survey placed extra focus on B2B markets, where conversion cycles are often longer, and where building trust and long-term relationships is essential.

An area that has, then, a fair degree of cross-over with the legal sector, scoring over a thousand businesses on the four P’s that are key to digital success.
  • Promptness

Immediacy is key in the digital marketplace. 33.4% of Brits expect a response within an hour (a number that increases with age). Fast response times have always mattered, but in the always-on, always-instant online world, it becomes even more important, with the benchmark report noting, ‘leads contacted within an hour of receiving an inquiry are nearly seven times more likely to qualify,’ while ‘the conversion rate increases by 391% when companies make a call attempt within a minute of receiving a lead.’
  • Persistence

According to market research, the report tells us, ‘increasing your number of attempts yields increased conversions.’ Broadly speaking, 2% of sales are made on first contact; 80% take between five and 12 contacts. Nurturing prospective clients who are, in sales terms, a ‘warm lead’ – someone who needs a legal professional but doesn’t know which one – demands persistence.

  • Personalisation

Showing ‘emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened by recipients,’ the report explains that ‘personalized communications with an inbound lead significantly increases the likelihood of successful engagement and conversion.’ No-one likes feeling like just another number, but in the online world, personalisation is a core expectation – from social media to emails to relevant search results, content, and ads.

It’s all, always, about the customer, the client, the user. Data sits at the heart of personalising any marketing output, allowing you to create a unique experience that directly boosts your firm’s ROI.
  • Performance

In the report, performance looked at how successful businesses were at reaching their target market – specifically, here, via email marketing. This is one area where many firms struggle to make an impact – particularly in a sector as crowded as law. But the digital marketplace offers many channels for clients to find your law firm.

Revealing results

So, how did the companies fare?

Not well.

In its executive summary, the report notes, ‘it’s clear that inbound leads are not receiving sufficient engagement from most businesses.’

Just 35% responded to enquiries within an hour, with the report claiming, ‘many potential conversions are answered too late and fall through the cracks.’

‘Over half of companies gave up after 1 or 2 attempts to follow up with the lead,’ when it came to persisting with a lead. The report concludes time-pressures are the blame, with resources placed into ‘automation solutions to increase their number of contacts with each lead in hopes of capturing every possible opportunity without overburdening the team.’

29% sent ‘tailored responses’ with four or more personalised elements. But on average, 58% included just one personalised element in their communications, or no personalisation at all. The worst-offending companies relied on basic auto-responder emails, however, ‘there were many examples where companies neglected to push the conversation forward, lacked a human-like touch, or failed to engage the lead in two-way conversations.’

Performance, here measured via email campaigns, showed just over one in ten reached a prospective client’s primary inbox. The report concludes that given ‘potential customers are most likely to notice and respond to messages in their Primary inbox, it is vital for organizations to offer a human touch whenever possible.’
In the digital space, companies are failing in areas vital to building valuable, mutually beneficial relationships and long-term customer loyalty. Growth opportunities are being wasted.

In an industry cautious about technology.

Naturally wary of online marketing’s grand (virtual) claims.

Where buy-in is sometimes difficult.

Can we be certain legal firms would score any higher?

Creating the virtual human touch

While many law firms may not be taking full advantage of the digital marketplace yet, they certainly have the capacity to excel where other professional services fail.

Consider what the report is at pains to highlight: that customers want the human touch. And time and again, The Law Superstore users say forming a ‘human connection’ is key to choosing a legal professional.

The ‘human touch’ is a base skill for any legal professional. You do it day and day out. It’s second nature.
Legal professionals already have the skills to succeed in the digital marketplace – even if they don’t know it.
This was the point made by Graham Stanbridge, legal sales manager at The Law Superstore, at LegalEx Virtual 2021.

In ‘Delivering on your potential: Succeeding in the digital marketplace,’ he showed how solicitors who apply traditional, offline skills, like outstanding communication, in an online environment achieve more success across the digital marketplace.

Watch: Delivering on your potential: Succeeding in the digital marketplace


Of those skills, place your emphasis on the customer experience.

You know first-hand, despite four in ten people using legal services in the last two years, many are still confused and often scared by the world of law. They’re looking for someone to guide them through complex processes and unfamiliar jargon.

This might be a warm, welcoming website highlighting your values.

A helpful guide on your blog.

A quick email to a sudden enquiry.

Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service revealed that ‘90% of respondents indicated that customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand.’

In brief: you’re online, on every relevant channel, when and where the client needs you. Putting your clients first. Making sure their journey with you is easy, seamless, and consistent – whether they’ve found you on Google, sent you a quote from The Law Superstore, or just stepped through the door to your office.

In the PWC report, ‘Experience is everything,’ consumers ranked the most important customer experience facts as:
  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Helpful employees
  • Friendly service

But there’s also a business case for enhancing the client-centric approach.

In a survey of over a thousand companies, 45.9% said it was their top business priority, indicating three benefits of a customer-led experience:
  • Cross-selling products
  • Improving customer retention
  • Improving customer satisfaction

Take the support you offer clients offline, and transfer that online, creating an online presence that champions the customer and showcases your unique experience and drive to help.


Price and value in the digital marketplace

What’s similarly clear is the cross-over between the report’s ‘four P’s’ – Promptness, Persistence, Personalisation, Performance – and best-selling author and marketer Neil Patel’s observations on what customers define as value: 
  • Response
  • Service
  • Quality
  • Price
  • Time

‘Value’ often feels like a double-edged sword. And the research bears this out, although perhaps not in the way you might imagine.

In the ‘UK Legal Services Consumer Research Report 2021’, from IRN Research, ‘83% would be influenced in their choice of law firm by price information on a law firm website, i.e. when choosing between law firms they would choose the one giving clear price information on their site.’

Yet, 86% of customers say they’ll pay more when they believe they’ll receive a better service.
Value. Not price.

The opportunity, then, becomes one of highlighting your value across the digital marketplace – something that’s never been easier with so many online channels available to you.

Read: How to ‘show value’ to your clients online

The real challenge for law firms is this: clients are now comfortable with finding professional services online, using digital self-service, managing their cases through portals as they do their car insurance. But they also expect instant, relevant online experiences uniquely tailored to them.

Is your firm ready to create those rich, personal moments across the digital marketplace?

If you’re looking to grow your practice, try the The Law Superstore free trial – with 40 free leads, so you can make the right choice.