During a recent Peak Performers’ session one of our participants mentioned being undercut on price by a competitor. It reminded me of an important principle, one that if neglected guarantees under-performing results for your firm.
We’ve all confronted this before. A prospect comes in, spends an hour or more of free time in our complimentary consultations, we carefully probe to uncover their concerns, needs and dreams for their family. We arrive at an agreement on the design of a plan to accomplish their most cherished goals. We firm up the price and the process required to complete their plan.
Then they say, “Elizabeth, the lawyer down the street says she will complete this work for $500 less.”
Our Peak Performer asked, “What should I do next when this happens?”
It’s the wrong question. The better question is what should have been done before that meeting to prevent this from happening?
The predicate to a more successful outcome is to be sure we follow this rule, without exception:
Never allow the prospect’s view of what you offer to devolve into a product.
Never, never, never, never, never, never, not ever! The worst place to be in the Law Firm Store is on the commodity shelf, sitting there all packaged up waiting for someone to lift your services off the shelf because it is the lowest priced product. Firms die there. So, how do we make the transformation from a commodity to a premium service clients willingly pay to receive?
First, all connections equating a stack of paper to value must be removed from your own mind, replaced with differentiators, those actions we take that set us apart from our competitors. Having a strong belief system in our differentiators will give us the courage to express them during the mental battle of selling. If this step is absent, we cannot transfer it to others – staff or prospects.
Second, ban the use of the word “document” from the vocabulary of every staffer, yourself included. Use every staff meeting and 1-1s with them to inculcate your value-based differentiators, your competitive advantages into the culture of your firm.
Finally, if by chance a prospect tries to make this a price decision late in the game as happened with our Peak Member, take them out, figuratively of course. Dump the Mt. Everest of value propositions into their pain funnel and let the blood run.
Let me say it another way. If we allow this decision to be about product or a stack of documents we are doomed to compete as low cost provider where, as Wal-Mart has proven by dead competitors, only one will survive.
Instead, create beautiful art.
About the author: Mr. Parman is a frequent guest on the radio and can be seen on television talk shows explaining the importance of proper estate planning. Prosperity Productions selected Mr. Parman is a featured speaker in a nationally-recognized educational video on Living Trusts. He is the author of numerous published articles on financial and estate planning matters and the co-author of two books, Estate Planning Basics: A Crash Course in Safeguarding Your Legacy and Guiding Those Left Behind in Oklahoma: Settling the Affairs of Your Loved Ones.
Mr. Parman is a Member and Fellow of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. He is also a member of the Oklahoma and Missouri Bar Associations, the American Bar Association, and the Oklahoma City Estate Planning Council.
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- Differentiate Your Service - June 6, 2011