The term ‘lead’ comes from sales and sales teams that are used to refer to any person who has come in contact with your business and could be a prospective client.
Online, it’s someone that has liked your social media post, visited your website or if offline, this person might have collected your business card or asked for a proposal.
While you might want everyone that engaged with your business to become a client, that’s dreaming.
Your leads will be in different stages in their journey to being a client.
The Life Cycle of a Law Firm Lead
Your leads will move from one stage to the other, this is the ‘life cycle’. That is to say that a lead will develop from one ‘type’ of lead to another as they become more engaged with you and as they become more likely to engage your services.
The life-cycle is:
- Cold leads
- Warm leads
- Qualified leads
What do these mean?
Let’s start with…
A cold lead is the lead that you have only just gained and knows nothing about your business and that, as yet, has no interest in your product or service. They are a lead though because you have their basic details or have had an initial contact with them and they fit into your target demographic and your buyer persona.
Think of it this way:
You know all those texts, calls or emails that you get from companies trying to sell you services you don’t want? They are calling you because you are a cold lead. They got your details (most likely) from another company because they know you fit their demographic. Now they know who you are, they have the means to contact you and you are someone is likely to want to buy from them. It will be a mistake going straight for a paid engagement at this point — cold leads haven’t given permission or shown any interest, and so they’re not likely to buy right away.
If you try to go for the checkbook for a cold lead, it will probably backlash.
Your goal is to make a cold lead, warm.
However, you got your cold lead, your next step is to convert them into a warm lead. Better yet, there are ways of ensuring that your leads are warm when they first reach you, which can save you a lot of trouble and effort.
A warm lead has everything that the cold lead does—they fit your target demographic, you have the means to market to them, and they are statistically likely to buy from you. The big difference is that they have shown some actual interest in your firm (if not your service) and hopefully even given you permission to contact them.
This might mean they have followed you on social media, it might mean they’ve joined your mailing list, or it might mean that they have sent you an email praising your site and all your hard work. These people haven’t indicated that they want a paid engagement yet, but they have demonstrated some kind of liking for your firm. Warm leads are more likely than cold leads to be paying clients.
With our warm leads, the next step is to move into being a qualified lead.
A qualified lead is then a lead that has taken the next step and gone from being interested in your firm to being interested in your service. That means they have somehow shown interest in buying from you—perhaps they have asked for more information about a specific service for example, or they’ve asked for a proposal. Either way, the qualified lead is now someone who wants to become a paying client and just needs a push to take the plunge.
With your leads in the right stages, the next important stage is to score them.
Lead Scoring and Categorization
Scoring a lead is putting a measure of how likely they are to become a paying client. The reason is, you want a lead to reach a certain level before trying to propose an engagement.
How do you score a lead?
That’s up to you—the more data you can collect, the better (in the following series I will show tools you can use to do this automatically). You can score prospects in terms of engagement with your firm’s online assets (How often do they visit the site? How many of your emails do they open? Did they download your case study? Which did they download?) and in terms of the interest they’ve shown in engaging with you and your firm.
For example, a lead with a good score will be someone who has done Google searches for your specific practice area, in your jurisdiction, who has looked at your firm’s expertise and maybe download a case study related to their industry!
In the next series, we will go through how to attract the right leads, especially building a client/lead-first law firm branding.