Networking events, seminars and hosting prospects at sporting events are all opportunities to sell yourself and the firm that you work at, as a solicitor. However, many solicitors shy away from or are ‘too busy’ to regularly and consistently treat sales opportunities as a main priority. Here, Mark Platt, Founder of Incite Consulting looks at the barriers to becoming a good sales person as a solicitor.

Solicitors who show they’re passionate

Have you ever noticed someone’s face light up when they’re talking about something that they’re passionate about? It could be the latest super car, getting a personal best at a sporting event or just being proud of something that their child has achieved.

Now, think about when you’ve seen that same spark when a solicitor talks about something in a professional situation. It doesn’t happen very often, does it?

Of course, this isn’t to say that solicitors up and down the country should be pumping the air with their fists when they get a win on a case, or high-fiving their client when they finish drafting a will. It’s not the ‘done thing’ for a reason – it’s just not professional.

However, every solicitor knows that in order to keep the work coming in for themselves – to keep themselves in a job and maintain profitability – they either need to have a fantastic following, a well-established client base or someone who consistently feeds them work. Without this, when it comes to not having enough work, they can’t just rely on the firm’s overall marketing methods to get them the work that they specifically need. This means that lots of solicitors need to network, carry out their own marketing or simply sell their services, for themselves.

This is where enthusiasm and passion about their profession comes in. Yes, professionalism needs to be maintained at every point of any conversation, meeting or event. However, how a person says things and what their face conveys, is really important in sales. Even when they’re selling over the phone where a potential client can’t see them. If a solicitor can look, sound and (in an ideal world) actually be passionate about the legal service that they offer, this is going to be their main selling tool.

Solicitors who can handle pressure

I’d be surprised if there is a solicitor working within any specialism, who can say that they don’t experience pressure. Clients are understandably demanding much of the time – they’re often paying a large sum of money for something that they need but don’t necessarily want. There’s also pressure from senior management, with billing and reaching targets.

However, when it comes to getting new clients in, there can be pressure just to make the time to speak to them over the phone. Then there’s following up on the price quoted or arranging a time for them to come in, which fits with the solicitor’s already busy calendar.

Letting one lead slip here and there won’t have too much impact, but consistently not replying to website enquiries or insisting a prospect leaves a voicemail rather than give them some information over the phone, can mean that word spreads of how unhelpful a solicitor is. It also dramatically slows down the entire sales process, which means they’re more likely to go with a competitor who has been able to move their enquiry along more quickly and smoothly.

Solicitors who need recognition

Many tasks that solicitors have to carry out can be complex, contentious and despite how well executed, sometimes thankless. So surely, when a solicitor meets someone at a networking event, who later refers a fantastic new client to the business, the least they should anticipate is a pat on the back, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for a lot of firms. Business development is seen as part of most solicitors’ jobs and contributing to the success of the firm is seen as something that they should innately want to do, with or without recognition. Not receiving recognition can put a lot of people off making the effort in future, but a good sales person will strive on regardless; knowing that they are either helping themselves in the short term or developing skills that will be valuable in the future.

Solicitors who have off days

When a solicitor is in a bad mood, or something negative happens that’s beyond their control with a case or a client, does this ever affect their demeanour when they’re at an event, or somewhere that a sales opportunity could present itself? Or perhaps even more common – how common is it for something to go wrong, so the networking event, dinner or seminar gets cancelled altogether?

To be successful as a solicitor, you need to keep your name out there in the local community – public or business depending on your specialism – despite being swamped with work, stressed with problems or even just wanting to get home on time. Solicitors who consistently immerse themselves into selling opportunities on a regular basis, are those that are far more likely to succeed and have a comfortable level of work in the long term.

How to become a solicitor that is also a good sales person

If you’ve recognised that some of the areas mentioned above would be barriers to you being good at sales, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad sales person. Everything above can be taught, practised and improved upon, with the right training and guidance. Sales might seem stressful and scary to some people, but these people can often become fantastic, self-aware sales people, who actually find that they love the world of sales – once they’ve gotten to grips with working within it.

For more information about how Incite can help teach and develop sales skills to solicitors, either as an individual, or with group training, please get in touch: mark@incite-consulting.co.uk