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Buyer Journey: What Lawyers Should Know About the Psychology of Paying for Goods and Services

By Mayowa Oyebadejo

Understanding the four stages of the buyer journey can point to ways to improve your marketing, practice management and payment systems.

It’s no secret that we live on the internet these days. It dominates every aspect of our day-to-day lives and has fundamentally changed the way we work, learn, communicate and, most relevantly for businesses, shop. An estimated 1.92 billion people worldwide purchased goods or services online in 2019. If businesses aren’t tapping into the online marketplace to reach new customers, they’re losing out on revenue.

Law firms aren’t e-commerce businesses, but the way consumers shop for a lawyer doesn’t have to be any different from how they shop for anything else online.

Goal: A Transparent, Speedy and Seamless Buyer Journey

What makes online shopping so pervasive is its accessibility and speed — search, click and your product is on its way, seamlessly. Compare that with shopping in a Sears catalog — “the Amazon of its day” — where the process was full of friction. Flipping through the catalog, filling out a handwritten form, mailing in a check, waiting on a delivery.

Which experience sounds more appealing?

Here’s how your law firm can borrow the best from e-commerce and position itself to attract and serve more clients.

Understanding the Buyer Journey: 4 Stages

In the internet age, where there are endless options to choose from and consumers are on the hunt for quick answers, you need to be on your A-game to influence purchasing decisions. So what goes into that decision, and how can you use it to win more work? Here are the four main stages of the buyer journey, and what you can do to stand out.

1. Awareness

Awareness is when a buyer knows they have a problem to solve and becomes aware of your firm as an option to solve it. They can learn of your firm via word-of-mouth, traditional advertising or by searching the internet.

  • By controlling your online presence — such as consistently blogging or posting on social media and optimizing your website — you can raise your search ranking and improve awareness of your firm.

2. Interest

During the second stage, the client becomes interested in your firm and its various offerings.

  • Target your marketing efforts to speak directly to your abilities, and how your service can solve the client’s problem. Think of it as checking out the specs on a new computer you would buy. You want to know exactly how it works, right? Draft a blog post explaining your typical intake process, your general timelines and what you expect of your client to ensure a good fit.

3. Consideration

Your law firm’s marketing and website have caught the attention of your prospective client and they deem you as a fit to meet their needs. At this stage, they are digging deeper and want to be validated in their decision. They’re looking for two things — price and proof.

  • Explaining your pricing structure and the payment process plays a huge role here. Are you making it seamless or complex to pay for your services? Regardless of when you request payment, ensure your client can pay how they feel most comfortable — this not only helps them but will get you paid faster.
  • Featuring testimonials from past clients on your website and having a great client review management system in place can increase the social proof of working with your firm. To capture more testimonials and reviews, add these requests as a step in your case management workflow.

4. Decision

Your client has done their research, found that you offer what they need and that you make it simple to do business. Now it’s time to buy. How can you make the decision easier?

  • Offering a simple “pay now” link on your website is a great way to funnel anyone from a lead to a client, by starting their retainer as soon as they are comfortable and ready.

Selling Like an E-commerce Business Requires Simplicity and Responsiveness

Now that you have a general understanding of the buyer journey and what it takes to influence a potential client at each stage, it’s vital to get the funnel right.

Online consumers have near-unlimited resources at their disposal. If you can’t tell a consumer what they need to hear, when they expect to hear it, they are likely to go somewhere else. They’re looking to solve their problems or gain clarity quickly.

You can easily influence the buying decision with timely information and upfront pricing that matches what clients experience in their day-to-day lives — for example, a flat fee model. Above all else, make it simple and downright easy for clients to learn about your firm and take an action, regardless of time or place.

A legal practice management solution allows you to intake clients online and place them directly into your workflow. Look for a platform that makes it easy to create customized intake forms and workflows. Also, platforms with branded client portals allow you to interact with clients online and keep them up-to-date on their cases. And of course, look for a platform that includes a billing and payment process that makes it easier for clients to pay their bill.

If your firm is still selling its services like a catalog, it may be time to make a change and join the e-commerce wave.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Mayowa Mayowa Oyebadejo

Mayowa Oyebadejo is the Head of Marketing at Paradigm, which offers a suite of practice management solutions to help lawyers manage, automate and grow their firm. With a background in management consulting and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, he possesses a unique understanding of the business side of law firms and works tirelessly to pass this knowledge on to lawyers across the country. He views his work at Paradigm as simply helping attorneys master the balance of serving their clients and effectively operating their business. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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