On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with special guest, Liz Wendling. Liz is the founder of Liz Wendling Business Consulting and Sales Coaching and works with executives, consultants, and attorneys to help them improve their sales skills. She is also the author of two books for attorneys, The Rainmaking Mindset for Attorneys and Consultations That Convert, and is a sought after speaker on these topics.
“I always knew what I wanted to do in my business, and that was to teach people the best way that they can do business development, sales, and rainmaking for themselves— a way that aligned with who they were the skills that they weren’t taught in law school to develop what, I believe, is needed in every practice. Every attorney needs to know how to sell themselves and their services and align with the way the new consumer buys legal services.”
We chat about Liz’s experiences as a “secret shopper” for law firms, as well as:
- Doing away with outdated sales language—and the phrases no one wants to hear
- Sales training for attorneys
- How to demonstrate value to potential clients
- Common mistakes made during consultations and sales conversations
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life.
I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Liz Wendling, founder of Liz Wendling Business Consulting and Sales Coaching. Liz works with executives, consultants and attorneys to help them improve their sales skills. She’s the author of two books for attorneys, The Rainmaking mindset for attorneys and consultations that convert and she’s a sought after speaker on these topics. So I’m so happy to have Liz here on the podcast. I’ve been looking forward to talking with you Liz. Welcome.
Liz Wendling: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Excited for our conversation.
Davina: Great, great. So why don’t you start out by giving us a little bit of background on how you came to be doing the work that you’re doing today?
How Liz Became the Rainmaking Coach
Liz: Happy to. Well, it all started about 14 years ago when I decided, or I should say corporate decided to lay me off. And I’ve always wanted to have my own business, start my own business. But I was always afraid to take that leap on my own until I was forced out. So the dream of starting my own consulting firm happened when I got laid off. And I always knew that I wanted to be my own boss and I always knew what I wanted to do in my business. And that was to teach people the right way, the best way that they can do business development, sales and remaking for themselves.
A way that aligned with who they were, the skills that they weren’t taught in law school, but to develop what I believe is needed in every practice and every attorney needs to know how to sell themselves and their services and align with the way the new consumer buys legal services. So that was the first part of my practice that I started.
And then a few years later, I added something that I never thought I would have done. But I started doing law firm secret shopping. And it just stumbled into my path when a law firm had asked me if I do that, and of course, I said yes, and because I felt like I could do anything at that time. And what it is is that law firms would hire me to go undercover to, for me to be able to give them that honest and in-depth look at their practice, through the eyes of a potential client.
A potential client who’s looking to hire an attorney, and it’s done in real time and it gives me the evidence of the good, the bad, and the interesting. So these firms would hire me to find out why the money that they spent on marketing was not returning in the form of new clients and new business. So like any good attorney, they want the evidence. They want to know what is causing that. What is causing someone to leave the office and say I’m gonna think about it. Now’s not the right time or I’ll get back to you.
And then they would hire me to fix it and fix it at the deepest level, not just put a little patch on it or put a bandaid on it. So, I got really good at posing as an ideal client and would schedule face to face or phone consultations and take on the persona of somebody ready to retain in that particular legal marketplace. And that part of my business was born and that was the basis of my speaking engagements and my books. And it’s just been, and it’s so much fun because I must have been an actress in another life. And all of my secret shops, no one has said I knew it. Or I could tell you weren’t a real client. They all said holy crap, you’re good.
Davina: Wow, that is so interesting. So what a fun addition to your work, to be able to actually go in and get the data because I think that’s one of the things that is such a challenge for a lot of law firms, law firm owners, is where is the breakdown in my system? And, you know, we know that they’re always exploring, marketing, you know, how do I get new clients? How do we get new clients?
And oftentimes they don’t look at, how’s the sales conversation going? And how are they being greeted? And what is the customer service experience they’re having when they enter the doorway or pick up our, you know, whether that’s through the phone or the actual physical doorway of my firm, right?
Liz: That’s right. Yeah.
Davina: And to be able to have that data has probably been very illuminating. So what are some of the experiences, maybe you have some experiences you can share with us without revealing anybody, you know, revealing anybody, any details that might out somebody. But what are some of the experiences that you had in doing that?
Don’t Treat Customers Like Numbers
Liz: Well, some of them will, well, I usually, I preface this by saying if you’re doing it, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong, I’m right. It always means there’s something that could be refined. And for example, let’s say your marketing starts to work and your phone rings in your office and someone says, Hi, I’d like to get some more information about a consultation, or I’d like to set up some time with an attorney to talk about a divorce or estate planning or a DUI. And so many times the conditioned response on the other end is sure.
Can I get your name and your phone number just in case we get disconnected? And can I get your email? And someone starts being interrogated right out of the gate, versus being welcomed, versus just grabbing my name and first having a conversation with me. Yes, I know you need that other information. But you sound like everyone else when you start a conversation with getting, let me get the data. I just need the data before I can connect with you.
These days, people want the connection first to know that they picked up the phone and make the right phone call. When you just start ticking off, can I get your name and your phone number? And first of all, when you say can I get your phone number in case we get disconnected, that screams 1995 because we rarely get disconnected and if somebody truly does get disconnected, we call each other back. So it makes you look old school.
Davina: You have caller ID.
Liz: Exactly. So that doesn’t create that connection anymore. And then so there’s a lot of structure around that. And there are some places in the conversation to ask someone for their email address or their address. Or the or the other one is how’d you hear about us? Well, that sounds like everyone else on the planet.
Davina: A bit self-serving too.
Liz: Very much. You might as well just say hey, how’d you hear about us so I can see where our marketing is working. People know that. And no one will ever tell you on the phone that just aggravated me, but it does. It aggravates people that you are more self-serving than client-serving.
And I know people don’t set out to do that, but they don’t understand that some of the things they’re doing and saying right out of the gate could actually turn someone off and cause them to not even want to make an appointment with you or not show up. So that’s just one of many. And then, even when an attorney meets a brand new client in a consultation room, there’s the type of greeting is so what can I help you with? And how can I serve you today or how can I help you today?
And that’s what I call the Home Depot line. That’s what they asked me when I walked into Home Depot. Don’t you know I am sitting in your consultation room? Start with that. Don’t start with something that makes it sound like you don’t even know why I’m in here talking to you. And it’s something that subconsciously, people will say to themselves, Okay, that doesn’t make me feel really good. I’m sitting in your consultation room and I have to fill you in on why I’m here. I already told somebody all of my information on the phone when I called.
Davina: When I called to book the appointment.
Liz: That’s right. So, that exists just two, of two areas that can cause such a breakdown for someone and cause someone to immediately take you out of the running and make, and you’re not even a choice in their eyes.
Davina: I know that that’s like, you can’t make a doctor’s appointment anymore and not have 20-minutes set aside to do it because when you call, they just start peppering you with questions before they even tell you if there’s any time available. You may spend 20 minutes giving them all information and then go Oh, well, he doesn’t have appointments until three months from now. And so it’s such a
Liz: Right. He doesn’t take your insurance.
Davina: Yeah, it’s such an impersonal experience and it makes you feel resentful, right? From the get-go. Like you’re just a number.
Liz: And then picture this, imagine you getting on the phone with the next law firm who doesn’t sound like the last three you talked to. That’s someone that says, Wow, I like this firm already and I’ve only been on the phone with them 75 seconds. There’s something that happens. And we get to create that through our words and the language we use and the energy we show up with and how we treat someone through those phone lines all the way to the point where they’re walking in your office, it translates all the way through and you look like a firm that’s congruent and not self-serving.
Davina: Right, right. So I love that. I want to hear a lot more about it. And I want to start with one of the things that I noticed that, and you kind of planted the seed which, you this is something you talked about on your website, is that we as attorneys in law firms, we’re kind of still locked in. We’re not alone in this.
There are other professions that are like this, but we’re locked into sales language or customer service language that is dated, that is 30 years dated 40 years. dated even for some of us. And so talk to me about some of those phrases or terminology that we use that are as, you know, that are revealing that we are, grew up as a young person in the 80s.
Liz: Always the first one that comes to my mind is the superficial chitchat, that very generic banter that we think we’re making a connection and we’re really connecting with that other human being and talking to them in a way that relaxes them, when in fact it aggravates them. When you say to someone, so do you have any trouble finding the building? How is the parking or is it nice outside? How’s the weather or I love your hair, I love your blouse.
All that generic stuff that we were taught 30 years ago to do to make a connection with someone, it doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t have the same impact. It doesn’t land the same way that it used to. And all it does is signal to the person you’re talking to, this is going to be like everyone else I meet with. This is, there’s nothing different here. Now, maybe consciously, they’re not saying that but unconsciously it just feels like another typical meeting. Nothing that blew my hair back or knocked my socks off.
So I teach attorneys how to develop different language in a different way to be able to connect with that person. So right away, they make that distinction of Oh, this is going to be nice, or I like the way she’s communicating with me or Wow, he seems like a really nice guy. Versus Oh, typical attorney. The last three attorneys I’ve met with all asked me the same thing about parking. It isn’t enough to rise above that noise.
And then like I said earlier, that question once they get into the consultation room, they’ll say, So what brings you in today or how can I help you? Again, not enough to make you stand out and make someone open up and feel comfortable. Another thing is not using someone’s name. When I’m secret shopping, I’m always blown away that someone only uses my name when they meet me and then when they say goodbye to me and forget I’m a human being throughout the consultation. And that screams old school.
Yeah. And then I do talk a lot about the F word. And that’s the word followup. We use, the entire planet uses the word followup, reaching out, touching base, checking in. Again, now somebody leaves our office and now we’re doing something generic and expected just like everyone else’s. So it’s not enough to rise above that massive noise that’s out there. And people that are meeting with attorneys may also be A, meeting with other people, but they’re also doing business with other people who are also trying to get their attention.
And they’re following up, touching base, reaching out and checking in. And all of a sudden, all of our efforts, we’ve got to double them up because we’re not being effective in the way that we are communicating and following up with people moving forward after they leave the office. So we could work so much more efficiently when we step back far enough, take a look at the approach, the language and the process we’re using from the moment the phone rings, to the moment we shake someone’s hand.
And how are we staying connected with them if they don’t hire us on the spot? That’s where business, so much business goes out the window. I always say, so much money is spent on marketing to get that ideal client to call your office, sit in your office and then we don’t do everything we can to make sure that they feel welcomed, warm, comfortable, confident to say yes to working with the attorney they’re talking to.
Davina: Right, right. And it is the, what you’re talking about, too is the client experience throughout the process. So let’s say they do hire you and they become your client. You’re talking about a client experience. You set the tone for what it is, what the client experience is going to be like in working with your firm. And so many attorneys are attorney-focused. This is what I want. I don’t want to, you know, meet at these times and do these, you know, and have this happen a certain way.
And that is certainly fine if you’re running your business and you want to set your own rules. But you also have to remember that you, like you said, you work so hard, and spent so much money to get these clients coming in. Wouldn’t it be, make everything easier if they had a wonderful client experience from the get-go and then they would be much more likely to refer you business so it’d be so much more easier and cost-effective to get new clients, to get repeat business if they had a wonderful experience with you from very beginning it felt like a person instead of a number.
Liz: And I’ve even had firms tell me that they get so many referrals that they were able to back off their marketing a little bit. So they save money on their marketing and then they’re allowed to put that extra money into the experience, into are we doing what we can when this individual who needs our services calls our firm?
Are we wowing them? And then when they walk into they get the same experience, that translates from the phone call to the consultation and then right after. And that is where, when you place the emphasis there and a little bit of effort and some investment in there, it always comes back to you, always in the form of new clients, new business and income.
Davina: Right, right. And let’s, I want to talk about this sales training idea for attorneys because so many, first of all, so many attorneys don’t even like to think of their consultations and conversations as a sales conversation. But that’s what it is, isn’t it?
Liz: It really is. And if they don’t want to call it sales skills, let’s call them lead conversion skills. So I don’t care what you call it. I just care what you do when somebody sits in front of you. That’s where my expertise comes in. You can call it anything you want but if you don’t know how to build trust and credibility, highlight your expertise in a way that somebody feels that and can get that and isn’t in a way that it’s self-serving, but understands the way you’re communicating with them as another human being.
If you don’t understand how to do that in today’s world, then you will just be seen as just another person trying to get their money. So any attorney that says to me, I don’t want to sell. I’m not a salesperson. I don’t do anything that looks like that. I don’t want to, I didn’t go to law school to become a salesperson and they’re saying that because they think selling is about pressure or manipulation or that they’ve got to be pushy or phony to close business. And I always say that’s running your practice with the mindset around selling, that’s 1980s and 90s.
So once we change their mindset, that it’s about solving problems, it’s about showing that you can communicate in such a way that this person is deciding for themselves that you’re the right person. You don’t have to sell them anything, the way you’re communicating with them is helping them to decide that you’re the right person. So it’s re-engineering the conversation in such a way that someone sees your value and expertise sooner rather than later. And there’s, I hate to, I don’t want to say there’s no selling involved, but it’s not the selling you think is involved. There’s a process though.
Davina: Right. It’s interesting because a lot of times I talk with attorneys and they often think that their problem is with marketing and are always looking for our marketing, marketing marketing. And I’ll say well, how, you know, how are your sales conversations? And they’ll say, Well, you know, I think I’m pretty good. I think I closed probably, you know, 80, 90% of the people that come in.
Now they don’t, yeah, it’s like I’ll have a, go look at their data, you know that, it might, because what I often find is people will tell me what they think but when we actually look at data, we wind up with different answers. Have you found that to be the case that oftentimes people, you know, who think that they’re good at these consultations and then you secret shop, and you find a different experience? Tell me what are some of those differences in what they think versus what you experience.
The Value Conversation
Liz: Well, it is so true. They will always say, when I say Well, what’s your closing rate? Oh, anywhere between 40 and 60. And I say, okay, that’s great. What’s happening with the other 40% or the other 50%? What is, that, you’re closing half but what are you doing to the other half? What’s happening that’s causing that?
But they’re 40 to 50, when we really drill down is really about 20 to 30 percent closing rate because they’re counting someone who says, Okay, well, I want to hire you but I just have to go home to see how I’m going to be able to come up with $5500 or how I’m going to be able to come up with the retainer. I’ll get back to you next week. Well, they call that a win. They call that a sale, but in reality, that person went away and never came back. So that is
Davina: Yeah. If that money didn’t wind up in your bank account, it’s not a win.
Liz: You were, you just happened to be lied to and you believed it. So the numbers are very skewed. So it’s not until we really drill down and say what’s going on. And when they tell me what their, what the objections that they hear at the end, it’s too expensive. I don’t have the money. I can’t afford it. I’m going to get back to you. What that tells me is that there’s a value piece missing. The value conversation is so light, it’s probably too light on the value scale. It’s not weighing and landing on the client that understand I have to have legal advice and I have to pay for it.
But I’m not understanding why that price equals what you just told me you were going to do for me. And the value conversation is where a lot of times, attorneys miss the mark. They think they have a closing problem. And I tell them, they have a value and an opening problem. It’s what you’re doing in those first few moments and how you’re conveying the value of how you can help someone is missing. And that’s what results into the closing problem. So I got a call yesterday from a firm that said we need some closing techniques. We need, I need you to help my attorneys be better closers. And I always know what that means.
And they think they’re doing a great job. But really what’s happening is they’re not closing because they’re forgetting all the nuances and all the other things that are so important in a consultation and because they’re not closing, they’re blaming it on closing. But closing is just very superficial. If I fixed closing problems, I’m really not fixing the real problem. So I have to tell them that closing isn’t the issue, it’s in your opening, in your value. And that usually leads to either a mock consultation, where an attorney will know that I’m having a consultation with them, or it will lead to a secret shop.
And that’s where I can provide the evidence of where the breakdown is, so that we know what to fix. Because not everybody needs their entire process fixed. Sometimes there’s a few things that need a little refining and a little modernizing. But that gives me the evidence to be able to report back and say, here’s the biggest issue and why people are leaving, taking their 5, 10 and $15,000 with them or more. And every time that happens, that means your marketing dollars just opened up the window and threw it out the window. It was wasted.
Davina: Right. Do you find that attorneys having these consultations are, have their own money, they’re projecting they have their own money stories that they’re breathing into the conversation? And, you know, they feel like they’re doing something to somebody. And so this is something for somebody or, you know, what kinds of things do you think are going on from a mindset standpoint with the attorneys having the consultations and not being able to demonstrate that value?
Liz: That’s a beautiful question. Because it’s true. We all have our own money issues, stories, dilemmas, conversations around money. And when we bring that into the consultation room and project that on the client, oh, they can’t afford it. Oh, I saw what they drove up and they can’t afford my services. And what they wind up doing is I call it a drive-by money conversation and they don’t capture the potential when the potential client is sitting with them. They have already, the attorney has already said oh, they can’t afford it. So they just go well my fees are this and, you know, this is what will be to hire me.
And they talk through someone not, and at someone, they’re not really having that money, that strong money conversation about here is what goes into our retainer fears. And here’s what’s included, here’s how I’m going to start working for you. And what a lot of attorneys do is they will say the retainer fee first. So for example, Davina, they’ll say, my fee, my retainer fee is $5,000. And what that includes, or what we will work on is, and now what happens is the client went logical. They’re thinking to themselves, oh, my God, how am I gonna afford that?
Not listening to another word the attorney says because they don’t know the value first that goes into the $5,000 retainer fee. So they don’t understand that to move that around and to be able to say, let’s go through the retainer fee, talk about what it involves, how our firm collects the fee, what are some of the things we’re going to start working on for you right away and having conversation that builds value.
And then the money, the fee is then divulged. Then the client can wrap their brain around, Oh, so we’re going to do all of that first. Okay, that makes sense. Because this is how we all make decisions. If we do it the other way around and just say my fee is 5000, everything you say after that is never heard. And that’s why a lot of consultations ends with Well, I don’t have the money, because they don’t know what they’re getting for that fee.
So it’s reengineering the conversation in such a way that somebody can listen to you and understand the value versus saying, Yeah, I got to talk about this super quick because money, talking about money is uncomfortable for me. And then we missed the richness of being able to have a conversation with someone about you came to the right place without ever having to say you came to the right place. That’s what you’re conveying. I can help you. I can help you get through this problem and dilemma that you’re having. I am the right person. You never have to say that. But you convey it in the way that you’re communicating.
Davina: Right? So let me ask you this. What happens, have you ever experienced, and maybe as a secret shopper you said this? I don’t know. But someone’s saying to you, well, you know, it’s obvious your services are very valuable, but I just can’t afford that. What is it that they’re saying when they say to you, I’m not questioning the value of your services, but I can’t afford that. What do you think has gone wrong in the conversation up till that point.
Liz: It could be a few things. It really truly could be a money thing. Now it could be. But that is a small percentage. There are people out there that think that maybe let’s use a DUI example. It may be only $2,000. But in reality, it might be $6,000 and they only have $200 in their bank account. They’re gonna have to go figure that out. So it truly is a money thing. But for everyone else, what is missing is to be two things is again, that value piece. So it’s from the minute you shake their hand, you’re starting to build value.
And I use the analogy of that, the old fashioned scales, where every time you do something well in a consultation, use someone’s name, connect with someone, build good rapport, start building trust and value. The potential client starts putting coins on that scale. Every time you do something well, and if you miss all that the scales stay balanced and they can’t see the value of tipping the scale and saying yes to you.
So that’s why I would say the opening and the value is way more than the closing. The close will happen on its own. So typically, it’s the client is saying, I’m not sure I see the value because you haven’t expressed it. They might in their head, say I see you’re valuable. I know you are. That’s just a throwaway line that a lot of potential clients will use. But what’s underneath it is really what they’re really saying is not sure I see what you’re going to do for $5,000.
And I use 5000 because it’s just a round number and a typical number. And then attorneys will typically go Okay, well, maybe you have an aunt that can help you out or do you have a 401k and they go right away into trying to solve that problem and overcome that objection versus rewinding it. And going back into the conversation about the value without saying let me tell you about my value. You’re not saying that but you’re rewinding back into the problem and how you’re the person to help them.
Davina: Do you see a lot of attorneys when they’re having conversations, get into discussing the process as opposed to the problem and the potential solutions for the problem and, you know, or, you know, how we’re going to help you or what we’re going to do or, I mean, what kinds of things do you see there that may be mistakes that they’re making?
Liz: That’s another great question because there’s that distinction of attorneys are comfortable talking about the law and the process. And here’s what we’re going to do. This is what I can do for you. And they’re very comfortable with that. What they’re not as comfortable, because they’re not as trained in this process, is that we’ll call it the sales process, the lead conversion process. How do we build value in an age and a day when everyone thinks you’re exactly the same?
When a client will come in and say, well, you’re a divorce attorney, doesn’t every divorce attorney do about the same thing? Or you’re a DUI attorney. Isn’t it all the same? That’s what they’re coming into the conversation. With, they think everyone’s the same and you should all be around the same price. And when you’re not, it’s very difficult for them to decipher what is that. So when an attorney speaks legalese and they’re, and the process, it’s not enough to tip the scales for the potential client. They want to hear how you’re going to help me, what does this process look like?
They want you to tie your value to them. For example, if someone says, you know, Mary, I know you got a DUI over July 4 and you have a court date on X, on this date, and sooner rather than later, if you want to take care of this, we’re going to have to do we’re gonna have to prepare this or get this under control or to start the process here, how our firm can help you do that sooner rather than later because you are under a deadline. And then you’re talking to the way you help them, not necessarily all those little nuances of the legal piece. It’s tying it back to them, how you’re going to help them resolve their issue.
This is a situation that we may be able to resolve sooner rather than later, maybe not even having to go to court. But what we’re here to help you do is to ease the pain of this. You’re hiring our firm to help you go through this. And it’s getting under the surface and connecting back to them and saying, without keep saying we’re going to help you. We’re here to help you. It’s here’s how we’re going to help you. Here is the process, but not tipping over into the legal like all that legalese that they don’t understand.
Davina: Mm-hmm. So, what do you think are some of the biggest mistakes that you see attorneys making in their sales conversation? We’ve talked about the setup. We’ve talked about showing value. What are some other things? Or are those the two areas you see the most?
Connection and Empathy
Liz: Connection and empathy. Connection is a little superficial. Like I said earlier, it’s the conversation of How’s the weather? How’s the traffic? And then immediately going right into how can I help you? And there’s this beautiful opportunity to create a deeper connection before you start talking about the problem. And I talk about this in both of my books. It’s how do you set that up? How do you talk to a complete stranger who’s likely never sat in a law firm or sat with an attorney? How do you put them at ease and disarm them sooner rather than later?
And you can only do that with your body language, what you’re saying, how you’re communicating with them. And it could be as simple as Bob, I know you and I, when you scheduled the appointment, our intake professional took a lot of information from you and I’ve had a chance to review most of that. And I want to get deeper into your situation. Part of our time today is going to be talking about what happened.
What happened on the night that you were arrested or what’s going on in the state of your marriage? Then I want to talk to you a little bit about our process and how we work and help, how we help people in your situation. And then we’re going to do this and then we’re going to do this. But what it does is it paves the way for someone, you’re conveying to them that I do this all day, every day.
I have a process and I want to tell you what it is so that you’re comfortable, immediately. No different than going into a doctor’s office when someone says, okay, the doctor is running 15 minutes late. Here’s what I need you to do. The gown is over here, I want you to do this and you’re given instructions and that makes you feel a little more at ease. Without that and just saying, Well, what can I help you with today? You missed that beautiful opportunity to put someone at ease, to open up their listening and their heart to hear what you have to say.
Davina: And aren’t you kind of talking about like, client versus an attorney-led conversation? I mean, I think that’s something I know that I’ve seen is that letting a client come in and just, when you say something open-ended, like tell me why you’re here today, then certainly clients need to be heard. But what you do is you kind of open up this, your time and the conversation to them just sort of vomiting their story on you and then you’re like, Okay, How do I get control of this and bring it back to closing, right?
And that’s so often you see attorneys do this and you’ll find it when you have attorneys who I can’t keep my consultations within the timeframe, you know? The client, the person was there for 90 minutes or two hours and they only had an hour blocked or 45 minutes blocked and, you know? Have you seen that and experienced that?
Liz: Oh, over and over and over. And it’s not so bad that they’ve gone over. What they’ve conveyed in that time is, I may not be the best person for the job. Wait till you see what I’m going to do to your retainer. By letting you talk so much, I’m going to have, you’re going to blow through it because I’m going to let you talk for two hours. You’re conveying all these little things to that potential client that don’t help you.
Davina: Right. Well, and your time is of no value. Your time is of no value, their time is of no value.
Liz: That’s right. That’s why saying to someone, how can I help you, what brings you in today gives that person sends a message. It sends nothing to that person that says, Okay, we have some structure today and we’re going to stay within that because you have 45 minutes and I want to respect your time.
I respect mine and yours. And none of that has to be said in that way. You’re just conveying that. Here’s how our time together is going to play out. You and I have 45 minutes together. Let’s do this. Then we’ll do that. Then we’ll discuss this and at the end of our consultation, you’ll have the clarity and the understanding of how our firm can help. Now let’s, now I want to put the focus on you, Mary.
Tell me a little bit about what happened or what’s going on in the state of your marriage the night you were arrested or whatever it is. And it lets the client know that, I use the bowling alley analogy. It’s like the bumpers are up. Can’t go in the gutters if you put the bumpers up and you are telling people we’re going straight down the middle. And yes, a conversation can weave back and forth but it never ends up in the gutter and you never have to try to save it because you let it go off the rails.
Davina: Right, right. And I think that conveys a message, that conveys value because if you have someone who is confident about what they’re doing, they are going to take control. I mean, they’re coming to you just like when you said going to a doctor, you’re going to them for their expertise. If you went to a doctor and you said, you know, they say tell What’s going on? And you say this, I think I have that.
And I think I have this. And I think that. I googled it. And I looked on Web MD, and, you know, you’re, and a doctor lets you sort of do this instead of saying, Well, you know, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to take some test and we’re going to evaluate this test. You know, like, you’re expecting that kind of direction because they’re the expert, right?
Liz: That’s right. And a lot of times now, people are paying for consultations. They might be paying 99 or $199, to sit down and talk to an attorney. If I’m paying for an hour, but I’m getting two, that’s a little scary. That again, tells me Oh, you must not be busy. So it’s conveying so much. That’s why taking a look holistically at what you’re doing, why it’s happening, what it’s costing you and what it’s causing. That’s when you can pull back, fix the holes, put it all back together in a way that’s effective and efficient. And for those attorneys who do have those clients who come in and I have a couple of them that will say, I just don’t know what happens.
They, I must make them feel so comfortable that they just keep opening up and they’re talking for an hour. And I said, No, that has nothing to do with comfort level. You allowed them to do that. You didn’t show them the structure and help them understand how a consultation runs. So I’ll, for someone like that, I always tell them that they can inject a line into their opening by saying, and David, if you and I start a conversation and we get a little too far in the weeds or you’re giving me more information today than I need for this part of our consultation, I’m going to pause us and get us back on track.
Are you okay with that? And that sends a message that it’s all right if you tell me information, but if it’s too much, I’ll just pause you because some people can go off the rails like that. But then an attorney doesn’t understand that it’s okay to say can I just pause you right there. That’s good information but I don’t need that today, but I will write that down. And then if signals Okay, now let’s pick up from here. But being able to direct the ball down into the pins is the attorney’s job, it is not the client. The client is coming in having no idea what it’s like to sit down and talk to an attorney. Could be their very first time.
Davina: Right, right. And do you find that, have you had experiences with attorneys who are good at getting people to like them? They’re kind of caught up in getting people to like, they don’t want people to not like, them right? And so they’re good at the rapport building and they’re good at you making people feel comfortable, but then when it comes to closing them, they’re not doing it. What do you think is going on there?
Liz: They have a very high need to be liked. Their needs to be liked is greater than there need to stay in business.
Davina: How does that show up? What kinds of things have you heard that could exemplify that?
Liz: Well, it could come across a little needy in the sense at the end of the consultation if they give the client permission to leave without doing anything. And it sounds, may sound like okay, well, you know, when you’re ready, I understand. Yep, it is a lot of money or it yes, it is a big investment or a yes, it’s gonna take some time. So why don’t you just let us know. And it’s open-ended. It’s too loose and it is
Davina: So how do we turn that around?
Liz: Turning that around by, it’s definitely a mindset thing but it’s also to have some strong language around that. To be able to say I understand that you need to think about it or you need to go talk to someone else or talk to your financial planner. Why don’t we do this? Or how about we do this as a next step?
Or how do you feel about this? Or here’s what I suggest. And it’s having that next step while that person is still in your presence, not just saying, okay, let us know because it’s too loose and that person likely leaves and never comes back. They’re looking for that direction. They want someone to step up and help them navigate the end of that process. And by not doing that, you also send a message that maybe you don’t want my business.
Maybe you didn’t like me, you didn’t ask me for the business or there, it just wasn’t a tight ending. It felt very loose. So it has to be done with body language, intention, tone in the voice and what you’re actually saying to someone. I was gonna say, that person then perks up and goes, Okay, yes, we’ve got a plan moving forward versus Okay, thanks for your time. That’s not enough. That’s another, I’d say 5, 10 and $15,000 just flew out the window.
Davina: Oh, yeah. Painful, that’s painful.
Liz: Painful, but fixable. That’s the thing. They’re fixable.
Davina: So what, and what you’re talking about is not just, I do want to get into some words, but what you’re talking about is not just about the words we’re using. It’s about our mindset, our manner, how we hold ourselves, how we, the tonality of our voice, how the structure of the conversation, I mean, there’s so many pieces and parts here. It’s not just, here are the magic words you can say to get people to sign on the dotted line, right?
Do They Like You, Trust You and Believe You?
Liz: Right. Mm-hmm. It’s all of that rolled into a beautiful consultation from start to finish. Because when someone does come and sit down with you, it’s happening when we’re, whether we’re buying tile, hardwood floors, new appliances, or seeing an attorney. Here is what the potential client is thinking. Do I like you, trust you and believe you? Can I see myself working with you or hiring you?
Do you make me feel important? Do you understand my pains, my problems and my challenges? Really understand that. And the fifth one is, do I feel good in your presence? That is happening, whether you know it, like it, it’s happening, and we get to build a consultation that answers those questions for that to make it easy for someone in their decision-making process to make you their first choice, not their last.
Davina: Mm-hmm. Do you find that there is a difference between men and women when you’re doing this work that’s kind of across the board? Or is every person just so individual, you know?
Liz: There are some commonalities that I do see. Women are a little more open to the idea that empathy must be in there and making that connection and even saying to someone, not just what I call this drive-by empathy too. Oh, I’m so sad you’re going through that. Oh, I’m sorry you’re going through that.
That doesn’t land. It doesn’t go anywhere. It just bounces off of a person. But when I can, when I teach this skill to a woman, they might say, Oh, I really like that or it’s not I feel bad that you’re going through this. It’s, empathy is this sounds like you are really going through a tough situation. How does that feel or gosh, I can see your pain. Like, we’re, you’re not just using the words coming out of your mouth, you can actually feel it almost coming out of your heart in your body. Big difference. So it’s, but it’s finding the right language for the attorney.
So I, a lot of times I’ll use the analogy of an eye doctor, it’s like, Is this better or is this better? And we’ll go through language and say, Does this sound more like you or does this? Would this come out of you naturally or would this? And sometimes they’ll say, I didn’t even think of saying it that way. That feels much more powerful and strong. And we get to play that and even with men as well. A lot of times they’ll say, Oh gosh, I never thought I could say it that way or that really does sound more like me.
So those, there are some differences in similarities there. But I do get a lot of pushback from men when I teach one particular piece in the consultation where someone has just been super vulnerable and maybe crying, talking about their sad situation or the state of whatever is happening in their life. And this space, this huge gap and hole is now in the consultation room where some empathy and something has to happen to fill that big hole. And I teach them to just acknowledge it.
Acknowledge that they’re in pain and saying something like, you know, Sally, I so appreciate you being so clear in your situation and giving me such clarity around what’s really happening in your world. It helps me understand what we need to do next. And not taking the time to go there, and there’s 47 different ways to do that. It isn’t just one. But what happens is it tells the potential client I got you. I feel you. Remember those four, the five questions that they’re asking do you understand truly understand my pains and problems and challenges?
And do you make me feel important? And that one little sentence that acknowledges I get you without ever having to say that makes them relax, makes them start to think halfway through the consultation, I like this person. Now you skip over that and you go, Okay, now let’s talk about the process. That’s like someone saying, I just lost my pet and they go, ah, sorry about that. So let’s talk about what we’re going to do this weekend. And you miss this wonderful opportunity to deepen that connection. So when men push back on that, and they say, Well, I don’t talk like that. That’s not how I am. And some women might say that too.
I tell them it’s not about you. This has absolutely nothing to do with how you talk and what you want to say and don’t want to say. It’s all for them. And if you don’t give them what they need, they’re gonna go somewhere else. And when I talk to them that way, they’re like, Okay, I got it. That makes sense. It isn’t for the attorney. It’s what the client needs. Do you make me feel important? Can I trust you? Like you? Without those little nuances added in there that are, again, not taught, but once they’re known and you inject them in there, consultation can change on a dime.
Davina: Right, right. You know, I think that so much of that comes from this sort of, you know, notion that attorneys have that, look, I’m not your therapist. I am your attorney, and they don’t want to set up a relationship where the person is calling them all the time, just to emote or to, you know, and so, and you have different types of attorneys. You have those that are a lot more empathetic and those that are a lot more analytical who say we’re just going to get in and tackle over. I’m going to win.
Like, that’s what you want is to win, I’m going to help you win. So I’m already in a strategy of winning. How can we win this and how can I, what can I do with the law, you know, as opposed to connecting with the person and their problem, you know? And just taking, and that doesn’t have to be as big of a deal as we think it is. We can show empathy, you know, in one or two sentences without making them feel like, you know, okay, we’re going to sit here for the next three hours and rehash your story like a girlfriend.
Liz: That’s right. And a lot of times, people are not asking for that. They don’t need that, but they do need to be acknowledged, they do need to know that this human being sitting in front of you matters. And if we don’t, then there’s quite a few other places within the consultation where that has to be woven in. And because it’s not done consistently, of course, it’s a new skill, something that has to be baked into the consultation.
But once you do it, you can’t believe you ever did one without it because of what happens in that room and how that person comes alive. And I had a male attorney tell me a few weeks ago, he pretty much dug his heels in, folded his arms. I was doing a virtual training, he leaned back in the chair. And he’s like, I don’t back
Davina: Oh, the folded arms and leaning back in the chair.
Liz: Yep. And he said, I just don’t talk like that. And that’s when I did my spiel. And I just said, Well, what if you took yourself out of it? What if you gave somebody what they needed in that moment to make them see the human being that you are first and then the attorney? Can’t you just try it? And he tried it and he said, it only took one time. He did it and he made sure he did it. I told him, You got to do it from your heart. You can’t just use the words because it won’t matter.
And he actually said, I saw them relax. I could almost, just, they melted. And he goes alright, I’m sold. I’ll listen to you now. And I had to laugh because I said you can hear me teach you this but until you use it, you will underestimate its power every time. And he did it with intention. Here’s the difference. It’s not just a technique you use and go do it in your consultation, you must embody it. You’ve got to take it on and intentionally do that for someone because that’s what they need.
Give it to them, and it comes right back to you. And when he really got that, that’s when he said, I can’t imagine I’m going to do it any other way now. And but you can only do it when, you can only see its value when you use it. When you can see what it does to another human being. Because if that’s what they want, and you give it to them, how could you lose? How could you lose if you’re giving someone what they need and being the type of attorney that does that versus glosses over it?
Davina: Right, right. So before we wrap up today, I want to, one of the things that I thought was very interesting, I was watching one of your videos and you were talking about, and this is a huge issue for attorneys and for people like I’ve written a lot of content in the past for attorneys and helped them with their branding and messaging. And one of the biggest issues they have is differentiators of their value.
Being able to say, my, this is what value I bring that is, that may be different from what another, how another attorney would handle this. And your videos, but it was fun because you use a lot of language for, you can tell that you’re somebody that has seen a lot of law firms because of the language that you’re using. So share some of those words that have become cliche that are dated, that don’t really tell anybody anything because I thought that was interesting.
Liz: Well, whenever I’m doing a secret shop, I will always, always throw this question in there. And it’s not because I want to throw an attorney under the bus. What I want to do is make sure that they understand when someone says, I appreciate chatting with you, I am talking to two other attorneys or I already spoke to other attorneys, then how is your firm different? Or how do you do things differently?
Now, it’s a bit of a trick question when I’m asking because I want to hear if they’re asking it the very generic way that does absolutely nothing anymore. All it does is make you blend in, or do they know how to truly differentiate themselves were an attorney leave, where a client will leave and say, Oh, that is different. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. So a lot of the ones that I hear are things like, Well, you know, I’ve been in a personal injury attorney for the last 31 years and I treat every client with care and compassion.
Or my job is to handle the details of your case and I’m going to remove all that worry and stress and we’re different because my firm has won some of the largest cases and settlements in history. Or we bring passion and commitment when we represent you. All those things that literally tune someone out, they just, because there’s, those are baseline expectations.
When you tell me you’re going to care for me or that you appreciate me and take the time to listen to my needs, the person saying Well yeah, that’s, I would expect you to do that for what you’re charging me. That isn’t enough to rise above that noise. So that predictable overused, unoriginal claims are also splashed all over websites all over the world. So if someone is looking for a DUI attorney, a divorce attorney, estate planner, and they, all the music looks the same, how can they tell you apart? And a lot of times they tell you apart by what you charge.
So if you’re doing the same thing as the next attorney, but your $2,000 less, I’m just going to go with the one is $2,000 less because you just basically tell me you’re just like the other person. So this is a much deeper conversation probably another two hours, we can talk about this. What I teach attorneys is to knock their socks off and blow their hair back by not answering it in that way, not resorting to those kind of language, that kind of language just tunes people out. Those declarations lose meaning because everyone else is using them.
So what I teach, and it’s a much, it’s a deeper skill, I’ll give you the overview. But in the consultation, people are revealing things to you. Big things. Things that are important to them, things that matter to them. So I’ll teach an attorney to say something like if they say, Well, why or how is your firm different? Well, I appreciate you asking that question, Sally. And although, yes, we’re a divorce firm or a family law firm and we do, there are some things that we do the same with other family law firms, but here’s what we do differently.
Earlier you mentioned your concern around X. Well, the way that our firm would handle that is Y. So I’m teaching them how to go back to say, I know you so much and what you told me is so important that I’m going to bring that into the value in the differentiator conversation. I’m not going to tell you what my generic resume is. I’m going to bring it back and show you my value again. That’s how you differentiate yourself. let everybody else use all the generic ones. You get a chance to go in there and pull something from what they said that matters to them and you weave that in. So this usually takes a little while till an attorney gets that.
But once they get that skill and understand how to pull something that was said into that differentiator conversation, someone will go Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s what I’m looking for. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for saying that. It isn’t a differentiator where they say, oh, okay, thank you. Yeah, I heard that from the other, from someone else. And a lot of, and that’s what I’ll do sometimes when I do ask that question, and someone will say, Well, you know, I’ve been doing this for 37 years. I’m really good at what I do. And I take the time and I’ll listen to your needs, and then I’ll hit them with this.
And I’ll say, Oh, I was hoping you would tell me something different. I read that on your website. And you would think I tased them. They don’t know how to get around that. But what the client is looking for is what I can’t get off your website, what I can’t read from your bio, what I don’t know about you, I want to hear how you’re going to help me. So how are you different is really underneath that says how is your differentiator going to help me? How are you going to do things different so you can help me? Gotta tie back to them and if it doesn’t, it’s the generic noise and it just blends, makes you blend in.
Davina: Right, right. So, and one key word that you said there that I think kind of sums up a lot of this conversation is you’re talking about techniques for how you show your value, not how you just, not how you tell your value. But in everything that you do, you’re showing them. So even your example. You’re, tying it, you’re connecting it with them but then you’re giving an example, which is always a showing thing. Versus say, just say, well, we’re aggressive in the courtroom and compassionate in the boardroom or whatever, right?
Instead, you’re tying it in and you’re showing them, let me give you an example of how I would handle this kind of situation. And then they can see for themselves how you’re different that by doing that, right? And that figured, that ties in a lot with what we were discussing earlier with. You’re showing them through your body language, their nonverbal as well as your verbal, the tone of your voice, you know, your control of the process and how you greet them. Everything is about showing them. It’s really a performance, you know?
Liz: Yes, yes it is. And not from a, I’m going to put on a different persona to win this client. It’s how do I have to show up so that my value is exposed? My expertise is known so I don’t have to do that quote-unquote selling. It doesn’t have to happen when you know what someone needs in a consultation and you develop a process and a language and an approach around that and give them what they want.
The selling piece dissolves. It just goes away. It doesn’t ever feel like you’re selling because of the way you’re showing up. It’s that way of being. And again, it’s not taught in law school. So when I start working with law firms and attorneys, they wonder, wow, that should be a class. I really would have, I wish I knew that 30 years ago because they realize how many clients they tried to sell or tried to talk to in a very specific way about the legal part of it, which is helpful and absolutely necessary.
They forget that people are buying the human being first. Your expertise is always second. And when you can show up as that human being, oh, right away, you rise to the top. But if you do everything in the consultation in a way that conveys all that value, then at the end of a consultation, the client mostly will say, how do we get started? Or what’s the next step? What’s the paperwork? And then
Davina: I think that we often think that salespeople, I mean that salespeople are born. And we say to ourselves, you know, as attorneys or law firm owners, or, you know, if you’re a law firm owner, you really got to understand how to sell. I mean, you’re not going to have business if you don’t. And in some practices where you’re required to be a rainmaker, you know, you have to have those skills.
And somehow we just think it’s like with being a business owner. I often tell my clients, you know, being a business owner, you’re not, thy is it that you think you’re just born with these skills? You went to law school to learn how to be a lawyer, you have to do, you know, invest some time and money and energy into learning how to be a business owner, run a business or run your practice within that, the law, you know?
Like, and so you have to invest in learning skills. You’re not just born salespeople. There are some people who may be. I mean, my little, one of my nephews I think is, you know, has always been pretty talented at negotiation from the time he could talk, but, you know, so there are people with gifts, right. But you still, there’s skills there that you have to invest in learning, so
Liz: That’s right. And with people skills too. That’s the other thing. It isn’t just sales skills, it’s that, it’s how do I deal with a human being who’s likely meeting with four or five other attorneys, and how can I be my highest and best self in that moment so I know that I did everything I could to turn a very expensive marketing lead into a potential client and a referral, or multiple referrals?
Davina: You want to be the last attorney that they met with. You want to be the last attorney that they see, right? I mean, ideally, you’d like to be able to close them so that they don’t then go and meet with other attorneys because, you know, you should be the, you know, like, I’m the last attorney you’re going to meet with because today, we’re gonna get started on your case and handle this, you know?
Liz: We’ve all made decisions that way. We’ve all made those decisions where we think we’re going to go speak to three other, I just recently did a home project I knew right away on the second person who came to my home I don’t need to talk to anyone. It was because of how he handled me. And I thought, wow, this is the kind of person I want to do business with. And he showed up that way every single time. And it’s possible.
Davina: Right, right. All right. Well, Liz, this has been a wonderful conversation. I’ve enjoyed it so much. And like you said earlier, we could probably talk for another two hours about this because it’s such a fun conversation. And it’s a, it’s a real issue for a lot of consulting businesses.
And I know for attorneys, and certainly, for attorneys who own their own business, there’s a lot of room for improvement for anyone who’s in that position. So I appreciate you being here today and sharing and giving us some insight. Tell us how we can find out more about you if we want to reach out to you and see what your work is all about?
Liz: Well, they can go to my website. I have videos and podcasts and lots of articles at therainmakingcoach.com. Or if they want to start reading my books, they’re on Amazon. And they can always pick up the phone and call me. I answer all my phone calls and talk to everyone who calls or emails me because I think everything starts with a great conversation to decide if there’s something there to continue the conversation. So I’m always open to that.
Davina: Well, thank you so much. And we really appreciate you being here today. And I look forward to continuing conversations with you. Thanks again.
Liz: Thank you.