“How much does a divorce cost?”
“How much is a consultation?”
“How much is a separation agreement?”
We get these questions from prospective clients all day long. You get calls like that every single day.
We get frustrated by price shoppers. We're annoyed that they care nothing about quality. They only want to know the price.
We tell them the price, and they usually say something polite like “Thanks, I'll get back to you.” Sometimes they aren't polite, and they just hang up.
Most lawyers I talk to are annoyed about having to deal with price shoppers and get agitated by the cost of having a staff person answer those calls.
What are you to do?
I'll give you a specific plan in a second. First, I'd like to challenge the assumptions we make about these callers.
I don't believe we get many calls from price shoppers. I don't think those callers actually want to know what it costs—not yet, anyway.
When they call, they're doing what we all do when we go shopping. They're asking the only question they know to ask. They're asking the shopping equivalent of “How are you?”
When we ask someone the “How are you?” question, we're really just saying “hello.” We aren't really asking a question. It's a greeting; it's a comfortable way to begin the interaction.
That what those callers are doing—they're beginning the interaction—they're starting the conversation in the way we start the process of making a purchase.
We all do it in one way or another. We walk through the auto dealership looking at the price stickers. We walk through clothing stores looking at price tags. We take note of the price before we carefully examine the merchandise. It's the way we interact with the purchasing process.
When we go to the Honda dealer, we ask how much the Civic costs. We then ask about the price of the Accord. We don't pick the car based entirely on the price. We drive the Civic, and then we drive the Accord. In many instances, we buy the Accord even though it costs considerably more. We don't automatically buy the cheaper car even though they both hold about four people. Price is just one factor, and it's not more significant than everything else.
Why do we ask about price first? Why do we gravitate to the window sticker immediately?
Because that's how we interact with purchasing. It truly is the “How are you?” of purchasing.
When we ask how much something costs, we're just asking for information about the product or service. We don't really know how to ask for information if we don't yet understand the product: price is an easy place to start. We want to know why the product or service is worth buying, and we want to understand what value it brings to our lives. The price matters, but it doesn't control the decision.
When confronted with price shoppers, most lawyers provide the price. That's a mistake. Don't give them the price and let them hang up. They weren't really asking about the price, right? They were starting the conversation. Go ahead and have the conversation before you provide the price. Let them tell you some of the story. Hold off on jumping ahead.
Instead of jumping into the dollars and cents, start explaining the difference the service makes in the client's life. Explain the value of your service and how you help your clients feel better, move forward, start over, and become empowered. Explain how you help fix that sinking feeling they have in the pit of their stomach and how that sense of dread is replaced with a sense of peace. Feeling better, especially when you're worried that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, is worth whatever it costs. Answer the price question by explaining the value.
When prospective clients call your office, they're taking a huge step into the unknown. They aren't sure they're ready to act. They aren't sure whether you are the best place to start. They aren't sure what to say.
All of that uncertainty and confusion comes out as “How much is a …?”
Recognize the question for what it is. Don't be so literal. Take your time and see how you can help. Work though the value and how it matches up with their needs. Then, if they still care, explain the price.