Master the Art of the Initial Consultation to Close the SaleDo you close every sale after an initial consultation? You’d be amazed (or maybe not) at how many attorneys tell me they do. But I know that’s not true, even if you won’t admit it.

If you’ve gone to the expense of getting prospects in the door, you naturally want to close as many as possible at or immediately after the initial consultation. This is how you do it:

Step 1: Create the right environment.

The impression you want to give is of professionalism, courtesy and comfort. The space where you meet prospects will form their first impression of you. If you have a conference room, then it should be staged for consultations first before serving as an internal meeting space. Create the environment that best reflects how you want prospects to feel about you. Put a sign on the door or have a freestanding kiosk outside welcoming them, using their name. Keep it meticulously clean — no clutter! Set up a Keurig machine with a wide variety of k-cups for them to choose from and a mini-fridge with soft drinks and water.

Step 2: Make the right greeting.

Make sure prospects are greeted immediately by name upon arrival and don’t make them wait. Greet them with a warm hello and a handshake and make eye contact. Make them feel that you are truly glad to see them.

Step 3: Provide a road map.

After you’re seated and they have been given a refreshment, briefly explain to them how the initial consultation works: “Let’s talk first about what brought you here and then we can discuss how we’ll be able to help you solve your problem. I’m here to answer your questions, so please don’t hesitate to ask and be sure to let me know if you need clarification on any issues.”

Step 4: Let them talk.

Be sure you listen more than you talk. They are coming to you with a problem that is rocking their world and they want a sympathetic ear more than anything else. Don’t jump in too early with your advice or thoughts — let them talk everything out first. And don’t focus too much on taking notes — if they hire you, they’ll be happy to repeat anything you need to know. Give them lots of eye contact and make the appropriate (short) comments that demonstrate sympathy along the way. Really listen.

Step 5: Tell them only what they need to know.

Don’t worry about educating them all at once on the process for solving their particular problem. Just tell them what they need to know right now. As you end the meeting, be sure to ask them if they got all their questions answered before you ask for the business.

Step 6: Stay with them.

If they agree to hire you on the spot, then stay with them through your client intake process. Don’t just leave them in the room — or worse, in the lobby — with a bunch of paperwork. If they say they have to think about it, then be sure you walk them out and let them know you are ready when they are to deal with their problem.

Step 7: Follow up.

Call them the next day to see if they have any questions you didn’t have a chance to answer during the consult. Then keep following up with a series of emails that remind them you care and that you are ready to move forward with solving their problem.

If you take these specific steps to properly structure your initial consultation, you will find yourself with a lot more new clients than you ever expected.

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