Legal marketing research repeatedly shows that good prospective clients are often lost because they feel that the attorney they’re considering simply talks too much.
The problem with talking too much is that you risk:
1. giving the impression that you’re not a good listener
2. making incorrect assumptions
3. overwhelming the prospective client
4. answering a question that wasn’t asked
5. missing what’s truly important to the prospect
You need to strike a balance, therefore, between listening and talking. And a great technique to facilitate that balance is to use the magic three-word phrase:
Help me understand.
Help me understand the implications of the negotiating strategy you’re thinking about
Help me better understand why that happened the way it did
Help me understand the biggest roadblocks you see
Help me understand what it will mean to you if we’re successful
Even if you think you already understand what you need to know, what you think is not what matters. It’s what the prospective client thinks and feels about you that matters.
Remember, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Yes, they want technical excellence and a positive outcome (characteristics that hundreds of your competitors claim), but the more a prospect feels that you truly understand them and their situation, the more likely they are to hire you.
Help me understand. It’s an easy phrase to remember. But you have to remember to use it. So set your intention to use it the next time you’re talking with a prospect you want to land. If you’re listening without preconceived notions, you’ll find the right place in the conversation. Remember, successful client development is as much about the “soft skills” of one-on-one communication as it is about the tactics of your legal marketing plan.