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Law firm marketing and business development strategies

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You Did It! (Now Can You Do It Again?)

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

blog-nominee-altYour vote for The Expert Institute’s Best Legal Blog Contest helped us make the top 250 legal blogs in the U.S.! Thank you!

The Rainmaker Blog was selected from more than 2,000 nominees to be one of only 250 blogs chosen to compete in The Expert Institute’s Best Legal Blog Contest.

Now, the voting segment of the competition is underway, where our blog will compete against some of the best legal blogs online today. And that’s why we need your vote again.

There’s no registration. You just go to the site and vote. It takes 5 seconds. Really.  You can vote once a day.

Just click on this linked image to vote:

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Thank you!!!

Use These 6 Persuasion Techniques to Boost Your Lead Conversion Rates

Posted in Lead Conversion

Use These 6 Persuasion Techniques to Boost Your Lead Conversion RatesWhy does someone decide to hire you and not your competitor? Usually it is not how good you are as an attorney, it is how you make clients feel and how well they understand what’s in it for them.

After all, perception is reality.

The art of persuasion begins with an in-depth understanding of your target market.  You need to know their emotional triggers and their decision-making process and then leverage that knowledge to get them to act.

Here are six well-proven persuasion techniques you can use to convert more leads into paying clients:

  1. Reciprocity. If someone gives you a gift, you feel like you should give them one, too. The need to repay a favor is deeply ingrained in human behavior. When you offer prospects a free ebook or newsletter, you subconsciously encourage them to offer something to you — their email address and permission to be contacted.
  2. Commitment. Humans have a natural tendency to want to follow through on their commitments. It is part of our self-image, that we are reliable and trustworthy. If you can get prospects to make a small commitment — signing up for a free consultation — they are more likely to make the bigger commitment of hiring you.
  3. Social proof. Monkey see/monkey do is not just for monkeys. People tend to want to do the things that other people do. On the Internet, that is known as social proof — which is why reviews are so widely used. Positive reviews of a product or service lessen the risk that we will be disappointed in our choices. There is security in numbers. Ways to demonstrate your social proof include having testimonials on your website to show others have been satisfied with your work and social media sharing.
  4. Likeability. People buy from people they like and trust, so likeability is a big influencer. You can build trust and relationships by using videos and photos on your website and blog featuring you and your staff, associating your brand with charitable causes and by creating content that mirrors your target market.strategy-session
  5. Scarcity. People want what they can’t have. The theory of loss aversion — that people would rather avoid losses than acquire gains — is well proven in human psychology. Making limited time or one-of-a-kind offers — a webinar, a special report — will increase the desirability of those offers considerably.
  6. Authority. For the most part, we trust and respect people in authority. Authority can be conferred via a title, an endorsement, or an enviable track record of success. Hosting and posting to a blog regularly can increase your authority, as can participation in LinkedIn groups and online legal directories. Publicizing your awards and your wins also helps boost your authority.

Understood and applied correctly, these time-proven persuasion techniques can help you boost your lead conversion rates dramatically over time.

Proven Ways Lawyers Can Get the Most Out of LinkedIn

Posted in Legal Marketing Strategies

Proven Ways Lawyers Can Get the Most Out of LinkedInWe all know that building long-term, meaningful and influential relationships is foundational to a successful legal practice. People don’t hire law firms; they hire an attorney. The more people you connect with, the more opportunities you have to build meaningful relationships, and the more potential clients you can generate.

With over 300 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn has quickly become THE ‘go to’ business-to-business directory and the most popular social networking platform dedicated to professional business development. One-third of business professionals on the planet have a LinkedIn profile!

Here are some of the top tips from attorneys who have used LinkedIn to their advantage and know they have gained new clients from its smart use:

  1. Complete Your Profile! You must commit to do this. You can’t ever hope to get the benefits without this. Put in as much information about yourself as you can. Use the same keywords and phrases prospects would use to search for an attorney in your practice area on Google. Sometimes just where you went to college or law school can drive business or referrals to your firm. I know plenty of attorneys who have generated referrals because they went to the same school as someone else on LinkedIn, or grew up in the same hometown. Creating a shared reality with a prospect can be a powerful step toward acquiring their business. Also, certain applications with LinkedIn require that your profile be at least 50 – 75% complete in order to benefit from them.
  2. Upload A Photo. Don’t be shy here. Don’t think about whether it’s right or wrong, just do it. A profile with no picture is a bad thing. LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals so your photo should convey that. Stay away from the photo of you on the golf course or holding a glass of wine. If you don’t have a professional headshot, they are available from any photography business for a nominal fee.
  3. Use The Headline Below Your Profile To Make People Want to Know More. When you set up your profile, LinkedIn uses your name, title or position as your headline, but you can edit this to make it more powerful. Try to think of your headline as your professional tagline. You have the opportunity to describe the type of attorney you are and the type of work you are currently doing. Do not make the mistake of listing more than two areas of law here, as you want to appear as a specialist. Specialists generate more referrals than generalists.
  4. Post Often. If you want to see the social power of LinkedIn, this is where you will find it. The Post area of LinkedIn allows you to share articles or other content — like repurposed blog posts — to extend your reach to your LinkedIn network.
  5. Include All Your Web Links. You can add up to three links to your firm’s websites. There are default settings, but these are also customizable. So instead of www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com, I customized it to say “law firm marketing experts”, but it still links to my website. This is another place where you should use your keywords like: “Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney” or “Gilbert divorce lawyer” and link it to your website, blog or even your Facebook fan page.linkedin-report
  6. Make Your Profile Public. Be sure to make your LinkedIn profile “public”, which means all the information you put in it is available to search engines to make it easier for people to find and connect with you.
  7. Don’t Use The Same Copy For Your Summary As Your Bio. The summary is not a place to talk about all the things you have done in your life. This is the place to position yourself as the go-to attorney in your particular practice area and geographical region.
  8. Use LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups can be a very effective way to increase your visibility among niche audiences, like your target market. It takes a little while to get used to how this works. I recommend you start by ‘listening’ before diving in. There are some places you should start with, such as alumni groups and groups in the industry segments you follow. We run several LinkedIn groups you can join for free including: Phoenix Attorneys, Personal Injury Attorney Network and the Rainmaker Law Firm Marketing Group. Simply log into your LinkedIn account and search under groups. Once you understand how groups work, join those focusing on your target market or potential referral sources (like CPAs, financial advisors or business brokers) or even start your own.
  9. Add LinkedIn To Your Email Signature. Most attorneys put their contact information in their email signature; add a link to your LinkedIn account. Here’s mine: http://Rainmaker.MyLinkInvitation.com. I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you on LinkedIn.

As soon as you start networking with LinkedIn, you increase your chances of reaching new clients and referral partners. However, be prepared, and be willing to work at it. This is not something you can “set and forget”.

If you’re not into social media or can’t make the commitment to put in the time and effort to network in several sites at the same time, this is the ONE social media site you should focus on. You may not see it at first, but with the combined use of the strategies and tips I have shared here, you will start to see your online network mature over time, leading to more prospects and referral partner relationships.

 

The 2 Critical Numbers That Will Tell You If Your Law Firm Marketing is Working

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

The 2 Critical Numbers That Will Tell You If Your Legal Marketing is WorkingDo you know how much money each lead is really costing you? How much does it cost you to get a new client? Knowing the answers to these questions can mean the difference between a profitable firm and a struggling one.

Two of the most important metrics that every law firm should be tracking include:

(1) your Cost Per Lead (CPL) 

(2) your Cost Per Client (CPC)

I’m going to show you a couple of simple ways to calculate these to help you maximize your marketing efforts. 

Measuring Your Average Cost Per Lead 

Every law firm must have a solid grasp on how much it costs their company to generate a lead. I’m going to share with you how you can quickly estimate your CPL. Notice I said “estimate” as this is not a perfect calculation, but it will give you a pretty good indication and it’s a lot better than what most of you are currently doing to find out… which is nothing.

A lead is counted upon the initial contact with the firm, not after an appointment is set, not after their appointment is kept and certainly not after they sign up to be a new client. At the very least, every person who answers the phone in your office should have a lead-tracking sheet in order to keep track of all the leads your firm receives in a month.

Once you have a good handle on truly how many leads your firm is already generating in a month (from all sources) you can estimate your Cost Per Lead (CPL) by using the following formula:

  1. Select a time frame (a month, a quarter or a year).
  2. Determine how many “leads” were produced during that time frame.
  3. Add up how much money the firm invested in marketing and business development during that same time frame.
  4. Divide the amount of money by the number of new leads produced.

For example, if you invested $20,000 in marketing and business development over the course of three months and generated 100 leads than your average CPL is $200. The question you want to ask yourself is, is that good or bad?

Well, it depends on two things: what your average client value (ACV) is and how good your lead conversion system is. If your ACV is only $1,500, then $200 per lead may be acceptable, but it’s not fantastic.

However, if you’re a commercial litigation attorney and your ACV is $20,000, then paying $200 for a lead is a no-brainer.

If you have a very low conversion rate of 5-15% (measured by how many new clients you sign up/retain for every 100 leads you produce) and a low ACV, then you likely cannot afford to pay $200 per lead. But if you have a high lead conversion rate of 30-50%, then paying $200 per lead will work even if your ACV is on the low end.

Once you have a solid estimate of your average Cost Per Lead you should measure it monthly, quarterly, and annually. Some marketing expenses may only come once per year (like a big ad campaign or a new website) while others can be a monthly investment. Comparing them month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year will give you great insight into how effective your lead generation efforts are.

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Measuring Your Average Cost Per Client

The next number you need to know for your law firm is your average Cost Per Client (CPC) – i.e., how much does it actually cost your business to produce one new client? Not how much it costs you to perform the work, but just to get a new client to sign up or retain your firm.

To estimate your average CPC use the following four steps:  

  1. Select a time frame (a month, a quarter or a year).
  2. Determine how many “new clients” were produced during that time frame.
  3. Add up how much money the firm invested in marketing and business development during that same time frame.
  4. Divide the amount of money by the number of new clients.

For example, if you invested $20,000 in marketing and business development over the course of three months and generated 100 leads, then your average CPL is $200. If those 100 leads turned into 10 new clients, then your average Cost Per Client is $2,000. The question you should be asking again is, is that good or bad?

It depends upon your Average Client Value (ACV). If you practice estate planning law, paying $2,000 for a new client is untenable. However, if you focus almost exclusively on asset protection and your ACV is $10,000 to $20,000, then paying $2,000 for a new client is probably acceptable. It still leaves you enough money to perform the work and have a healthy profit margin.

Based on our experience, without these two numbers you will continue to struggle and fall short of building a lifestyle law firm™ — a firm that produces enough money to give you the ability to lead the life you want to lead, enjoying your friends and family, taking more vacations, and eventually to leave the legacy you want to leave.

The Problem of Me-Too Marketing & How to Solve It to Win Clients

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

The Problem of Me-Too Marketing & How to Solve It to Win ClientsConsumers are confused about the legal marketplace and are looking for ways to determine differences between what appears to them to be a sea of lawyers all offering the same services, marketing to them in the same way.

In today’s hyper-competitive legal services marketplace, it is not enough to be smart or even to do a great job for your clients. You must find a way of differentiating yourself and your firm so that prospective clients have a reason to choose you over your competitors.

One of the most common mistakes I see attorneys make in their law firms is copycat marketing. We have all seen law firms out there that look exactly like other law firms. Their websites are the same. Their pictures are the same. Their marketing messages are the same.

Consumers are confused. They don’t know how to tell one law firm from the next.

Your problem in failing to differentiate yourself from your competitors is that there are 1.3 million attorneys in the U.S. — that’s one lawyer for every 238 people, men, women and children included. Think about the level of concentration in your city. There are a lot of lawyers who do what you do.

The problem is that if you don’t differentiate your law firm, you will face increased competition and be perceived as a commodity. And when you’re perceived as a commodity, you can’t command the fees you want and need to charge.

When you fail to differentiate, you fail to prove your value to your prospects. Instead of talking about your value, you’ve talked about your services. Instead of talking about solutions, you’ve talked about your degree or the size of your firm. People don’t care about that.

So what do they care about? Here are the four major areas they really care about:

They care about the value you bring to the relationship.

They care about the benefits they will get from working with your firm.

They care about the solutions you provide, especially the creative ones.

They care about the results you have achieved for your past clients.

Learning to differentiate your practice is one of the many law firm marketing strategies you will learn when you attend a Rainmaker Retreat. Here are the upcoming dates:

October 2-3, 2015 — Miami, FL

November 6-7, 2015 — New York City

December 4-5, 2015 — Los Angeles

Get substantial savings (50% off) through our Early Bird Registration, which ends September 2 for the Miami Rainmaker Retreat, October 2 for the NYC Rainmaker Retreat and November 4 for the Los Angeles Rainmaker Retreat.

You can register online for a Rainmaker Retreat or call 888-588-5891 for more information.  National Trial Lawyers members receive a discount. Please contact National Trial Lawyers at 866-665-2852 to receive the discount code.

How Consumers Look for Lawyers & How to Lead Them to You

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

How Consumers Look for Lawyers & How to Lead Them to YouOur experience in law firm marketing over the past decade has taught us that most people take a four-step approach when choosing a lawyer:

1.  The person gathers general information to determine what type of lawyer they need and if they actually have a need for a lawyer;

2.  The person begins to search and look at several law firms (those they have heard of or find on the Internet);

3.  The person begins to validate specific attorneys (performs a credibility search to ensure the attorneys he/she is considering are good, qualified attorneys);

4.  The person then makes an attorney selection (perhaps engaging in a free consult, calling the attorney, etc.).

Savvy attorneys know they need to be accessible at each step in the decision process; here’s how:

Step 1: Information Gathering. Most people turn to the Internet to gather information and you need to be there to answer their questions via a blog or your website. You should have content that specifically addresses the type of situation that would lead someone to hire you and/or why they need legal counsel for their particular problem.

Step 2: Search. An active presence on social networking sites as well as your blog and website can help lead prospects to your door. Many may ask their friends on Facebook for recommendations or turn to other social media sites for information about specific firms, so you need to be there.

Step 3: Validation. Having good reviews and posting testimonials (if your state bar allows it) on your website and blog will help put you front and center during the validation process. Don’t forget to beef up your profiles on legal directories as well as LinkedIn.

Step 4: Selection. Offer free consultations at every opportunity and when someone calls your office, return the call immediately. Research shows that a hot lead can turn cold in as little as five minutes, so if you can’t get to them quickly, make sure someone else in your office can or that you have an automated system to follow up immediately.

This last step is where things often fall apart for many law firms, who have not yet been awakened to the importance of lead conversion.

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First, you must understand that lead conversion doesn’t begin when you are trying to close a sale, it begins the moment someone initiates contact with you.

Most law firms do not have a proper lead conversion process in place that begins when someone calls or emails and your staff is poorly trained to boot!

As I talk about at our two-day marketing seminar, the Rainmaker Retreat, there are 7 critical components to any lead conversion system and they must all be working together if you are to have any real success in converting your leads:

  1. A system that tracks where all your leads come from
  2. A system that is customized for the way you do business
  3. Measures how many of your leads turn into appointments and how many convert into clients
  4. Automated follow-up process so you never lose a lead
  5. Systems to help you convert more prospects into retentions
  6. Must include ongoing training for your staff
  7. Must include consulting on best practices in lead conversion

All the hard work you’ve put in to be found by potential clients at every step of their decision-making process is wasted if you don’t have a lead conversion system in place. It is probably one of the least expensive yet most financially rewarding things you can do to boost your revenues.

How to Solve the Competing-on-Price Problem in Your Practice

Posted in Law Firm Management

How to Solve the Competing on Price Problem in Your PracticeAre you being continually forced to compete for clients based on price? If so, then you need to be aware of what is at the root of this problem: chasing the wrong prospects is the basis of all pricing problems.

Casting a wide net for clients without applying any targeting criteria is dangerous because sometimes it works. The clients you get by doing this are inevitably those that will pound you on price and beat up on your staff as well.

If you choose to compete only on price, your fees have exactly one way to go – down.

So how can you target the right client that will allow you to charge what you’re worth? Here are three quick steps:

  1. Create an ideal client profile — Think in terms of age, profession, gender, education, interests, marital status, family size, hobbies, and lifestyle. If you’ve had clients you consider ideal, what did they share in common that made them an ideal client for you?
  2. Communicate your target – educate everyone in your firm as well as your referral sources about what an ideal client is for your practice.
  3. Have a qualifying process – before you sign on a new client, put them through a qualifying process that educates them about how you work, what they can expect, how you charge and what is expected of them. If they balk, they’re not a good fit.

When attorneys come to me complaining of being shopped on price I tell them these three things:

  1. Only 15 percent of people buy solely based on price, which means 85 percent of people take price into consideration but it’s not their only — or even their most important — consideration. The best thing you can do for your practice is identify those true “price shoppers” early on in the consult and quickly refer them to your competitors because they are nothing but trouble.
  2. It’s almost never about the money! When people focus on the price, it’s rarely about the money—it is almost always about your failure to show them enough value. You need to emphasize how the price is reasonable compared to the value you are bringing to the situation.
  3. Be ready to challenge people when they bring up price as a major objection. When a prospect brings up price, especially early on in the conversation, directly ask them, “Is price the major factor in making your decision?” Most will quickly answer, “No, but it is something I’m going to consider.” You can then respond, “Certainly, but what are the other factors you are going to use in determining who to hire as your attorney?” Once they list the other factors, you can use them to show how you can meet or exceed those criteria. If the prospect says that price is the main consideration, refer him or her to someone else.

Once you start attracting your ideal client, you’ll be able to charge what you are worth and stop worrying about competing on price.

7 Steps to a Superior Lead Nurturing Program

Posted in Lead Conversion

7 Steps to a Superior Lead Nurturing Program I learned the importance of lead nurturing thanks to one attorney who attended our Rainmaker Retreat several years ago. She came up to me after the first day to say that she had been hearing from us for almost 10 years, and finally decided she needed to attend our two-day marketing seminar, and how glad she was that she did.

If nothing else, this reinforced to me the importance of nurturing leads. I had no idea it would take someone 10 years to respond to our lead generation efforts, but I’m certainly glad we didn’t drop her off our list. You never know when someone will decide they’re ready to buy, even a decade later!

Lead nurturing is simply helping people rather than trying to sell them something. It is identifying their “point of pain” and giving them the answers that help them alleviate that pain. Those answers can come in many different forms, including monthly e-newsletters, special reports, blogs and other forms of content marketing.

The content you deliver should benefit your prospect, whether or not they “buy” from you right away. By having a lead nurturing program in place, the quality of your leads will increase and so will your conversion rates.

Here are 7 steps to a superior lead nurturing program:

Have a system. While you can have a manual system, automated is really the way to go. That way, leads don’t fall through the cracks.

Track everything. Having an automated system in place will also allow you to track all the actions that your intake people are taking to nurture the lead along the path to becoming a client.

Respond quickly. Again, an automated system will shoot off an email within seconds of entering an active lead into the system. You must respond quickly to let the lead know you are interested and then follow up with more emails or calls to get them in the door. In fact, research has shown that leads can go from hot to cold in just five minutes!

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Stay in touch. Your automated system that captures the conversations you have already had with your leads will enable you to identify the best times to keep in touch with them. Put your leads on your monthly e-newsletter list; just ask their permission first.

Offer value. Send your leads a free report or ebook that provides them with something of value.

Ask for the business. Your intake people should be trained on listening for cues when people are ready to commit to an appointment. Always ask for the business.

Learn from mistakes. Be alert to what doesn’t work and adjust your lead generation and conversion system accordingly.

 

How to Stay Connected with Referral Sources When Your Life is Crazy Busy

Posted in Generating Referrals for Attorneys

How to Stay Connected with Referral Sources When Your Life is Crazy BusyEvery attorney knows that referrals and returning clients are some of their strongest sources of business. So, how do you stay connected? How do you stay on their radar?

I will begin with a well-known marketing principle – the Law of 7 Touches. Under this proven theory, it takes seven meaningful touches to make a lasting impression on someone. However, in today’s world of over-access to everything, we may need more than seven touches. In fact, the marketing world has accepted that this number is now somewhere around 12.

Defining Meaningful


So what differentiates a meaningful touch from a normal, entirely unremarkable touch? Running through a networking event and talking at everyone for a moment is not sufficient. You need to make a lasting positive impression at least 12 times to remain relevant in the eyes of your prospective client or referral source.

Here are a few meaningful ways to keep in touch that you can delegate to your admin that won’t take any of your time:

Use your press releases. Each time you write and submit a press release, send them a copy. It’s easier if you use a distribution service like eReleases.com or PRWeb because you can automatically convert the release into a PDF file, which you can then email, or print and mail.

Send them a copy of your published articles. When you publish an article anywhere, create a PDF and email it with a quick note to your contacts.

Set-up a Google alert for a topic of interest to your referral sources. For example, “tax law changes” for CPAs or “Los Angeles commercial real estate market update” for a commercial real estate broker.  (www.google.com/alerts) When something pops up, send it on.

Invite them to connect with you on social media. Find your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and invite them to connect with you. They will receive any updates you make to your profiles and pages — an automatic way to connect with no more effort on your part.

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What’s Old is New Again: e-Newsletters


One of the easiest, and most overlooked, tools in your arsenal is the monthly newsletter. This is an easy way for you to reach out to your entire network at the same time and to keep your name and your firm top of mind.

When I say newsletter, I mean an electronic newsletter. Like all contact today, newsletters have gone digital. Newsletters are great for solos and small law firms because they:

Are cheap and easy.  Using an email marketing service like Constant Contact to create and send your monthly e-newsletters costs only $35 per month if you have fewer than 2,500 people on your list.  They have scads of free templates from which to choose, and you can customize those to feature your name and logo, your photos and even video.

Foster relationships and loyalty.  How many times have you chastised yourself for not keeping in touch with referral sources on a regular basis?  Sending out a monthly newsletter does that job for you.  It helps keep you top-of-mind with your referral sources and past clients, many of which may not have thought of you otherwise when a legal issue arose.

Allow you to track engagement.  Email marketing services have tools that let you know exactly who opened and read your newsletter, and if they clicked on any links within the content.  This helps you figure out what people find the most interesting so you can refine your efforts every month.

Help you project a professional image.  Newsletters help you project a professional, high quality image for your marketing efforts.  You can even create templates that match your website to help solidify your branding in prospects’ minds.

Educate your clients – If you handled my divorce, then I may not think of you when it comes time to hire an estate planning attorney. That isn’t my fault though, it’s yours. I didn’t know that you are also an estate planning attorney. When I think about you, I think divorce. Make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Your past, current and future clients and referral sources need to know about all your practice areas. A newsletter is a good way for them to learn that you are knowledgeable on more than one topic. Don’t let them put you in a box.

If you have not launched a monthly e-newsletter yet for your law firm, you are really missing out on a fabulous, low-cost way to stay engaged with your current clients, past clients and potential clients.

How to Hire the Best People to Grow Your Law Firm

Posted in Law Firm Management

How to Hire the Best People to Grow Your Law FirmDo you suck at hiring? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of small business owners do. But being the owner of a business that sells service, you really cannot afford to suck at hiring any longer if you want to grow your firm.

If you really think about it, good employees are critical to your success. If your intake person sucks, your lead conversion rate suffers. If your paralegals suck, your work product suffers. If your attorneys suck, your clients will leave you.

Here are six steps to improve the hiring process at your law firm:

1.  Write a clear, concise job description. Writing up a comprehensive job description will not only get you better qualified candidates, it will also help you clarify in your own mind exactly the type of person you want for the job. It also helps you conduct better interviews. Include the roles and responsibilities, what skills or knowledge is required and the personal characteristics you are looking for in your new hire.

2.  Create a hiring schedule. I hear all the time from solos and small firms that they simply don’t have the time to hire the new person they really need. So I guess you don’t have more time to make more money? Because if you really need someone to fill a particular role, something important is falling through the cracks. Set a deadline for when you want your new employee to start working and work back from that, setting aside time on your calendar for application reviews, reference checks and interviews.

3.  Look in the right places. If you post an opening on an online job site, chances are you will get hundreds of applicants. Who has time to wade through all of that? Instead, target your recruiting like you target your marketing. As you are networking online or in your community, talk to your contacts to see if they know someone who might fit your needs.

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4.  Make hiring a team effort. The person you hire will be working with everyone in the firm, so enlist the help of other employees for the hiring process. Getting different perspectives on potential hires can save you from making a disastrous hire. Having your team involved in the hiring process can also ensure your new hire will be a fit for your company culture, an important factor in any business but especially in a service business.

5.  Always check references. You’d be amazed at how many people will fall in love with a candidate on paper and fail to check their references. When you talk with a reference, try not to ask leading questions and listen for nonverbal cues like the tone of voice, which can be more telling than the words they are using.

6.  Consider a contract position. Consider having your best candidate join in a contract position before bringing him or her on fulltime. This will allow you the time to more accurately assess how they will perform in your firm before you fully commit.