Poor marketing opens the doors for sharks (First published in Law Society Gazette In Business blog)

At the time of her initial enquiry, she also enquired about changing the way their property was held, amending their wills and advice regarding care homes fees.

Well nine months on, the lasting power of attorney is finally in place.  Has the solicitor called to see if everything was to her satisfaction?  And, would she like to come in to sort out those other matters?  Of course, if he had I would not be writing this article.

However, she did get a call from " a very nice man, who offered to come and see us at home…" and she agreed to a visit.

Over the years of working with solicitors I have heard many reasons why follow-up calls are not made. Aside from possible personal difficulties, reasons might include:

  • Inadequate notes being made at time of initial enquiry
  • No system to capture such enquiries
  • No system at close of matter to prompt selling on
  • He or she is "busy enough"
  • He or she is not comfortable making this sort of call
  • He or she is not comfortable with selling
  • There are no other resources to make this sort of call
  • This is not a priority for marketing.

I often hear will-drafting described as "not worth doing" or "just a loss leader", but this is usually where there is little recognition of the lifetime value of a client to the firm, rather than short term value to the department.  At the other end of the client scale, I often hear clients say "we didn’t know they could do that" when debriefing on lost work due to lack of effective cross-selling.

Whilst the client database in many law firms is a sadly neglected piece of intellectual property - to others it is seen as a goldmine.

The elderly lady is now on various healthcare equipment mailing lists and is therefore likely to have had her contact details passed to any number of providers of services to the elderly - some more unscrupulous than others.   

Thankfully, she sent me this "adviser's" details to check and a quick look at their (well designed and impressive) web site indicated that they were not solicitors.  However, my relative is blissfully unaware of the SRA and so had no idea that she could check credentials in this way.

A further check of the phone number on WhoCallsMe.com revealed that they were known sharks and I was able to point her back towards her not-so-proactive solicitor.

Capturing and converting such opportunities is simply a case of being systematic, something which the likes of Co-op can be expected to excel at. 

As those firms which have embraced marketing know, keeping in touch with your clients once or twice a year with a simple client newsletter will remind them that you have their interests at heart, 

A call to check that everything that you did for them was satisfactory and "if there is anything else we can help you with…" will earn their client's loyalty, secure more business and keep the sharks from the door.

Failure to take a proactive approach to client marketing simply provides a big window of opportunity for better organised providers, including the less reputable ones.

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