The holy grail, acquiring new clients… but what about the existing ones?

27/07/2016 by Joe Simpson


Law firms consistently engage in the ritual of finding new business and so they should. This is the lifeblood of any organisation and is no different for lawyers. Whether this is through a rainmaker, marketing department or good old fashioned personal contacts, it needs to be actioned.


But wait a minute, what about your existing clients. An often used business mantra is it is easier and cheaper to sell your products and services to existing clients than it is to find new ones. This does not mean you stop looking for new business. It merely suggests that you don’t overlook your current client base as an opportunity when engaging in new business activity.


So what does this mean for your business today?


The first question you should consider is, do I have a database of existing customers and can I use it to communicate with them? This does not need to be an expensive customer relationship management (CRM) system if you don’t have one. It can be as simple as an excel database. The important factor is that you have a list, in one place and you can put it to good use. Also it is important to remember that the existing clients generally belong to the firm and not any individual. So be aware of the over precious individual who doesn’t want you communicating with “their” client.


The next point to consider is that as the client has utilised your services previously, they know your firm, they know the levels of service to expect and will, in most circumstances, welcome a piece of marketing literature about your business. Please note you should have previously gained permission from your clients in your discussions that they are willing to receive further information and marketing materials from you. Contact can either be in the form of an email, newsletter, direct mail or possibly a mixture of all three at different times. Remember, you must give the client the option to opt out from any further marketing material should they wish.


An important point to consider is how many products or services has each client bought from you to date. Do you even track this as a business? The majority of clients will probably only use your firm once if you don’t communicate with them on a regular basis. Additionally, they won’t remember to contact you in their moment of need and whilst it probably won’t happen every month, when there is a requirement for legal assistance again, they will seek out advice from friends and family or look in a variety of places for sources of information that can help them. Remember that clients will utilise a variety of firms in the lifetime; for example, their bank may refer them to one firm for a will and the estate agency may refer them to another firm for conveyancing. You may be the third firm they have used over the last ten years. Your goal is to ensure they remember your you for the next time that they require assistance from a lawyer.


Firms with niche disciplines may ask how can I regularly communicate a marketing message to an existing client if they are unlikely to ever need our services again. The opportunity is to network with other firms and cross refer your clients on a reciprocal basis. Remember they are your clients and will need other legal services in the future. Ensure it is your name they think of when they need help. If that means you have to refer them on to another firm, make sure there is a commercial arrangement in place where you also benefit. If you were previously successful in helping your client, why wouldn’t they come back to you next time?


Once you complete an assignment for a client, ensure you send them a satisfaction survey and ask for feedback. This way you will gain information on how your business is performing in relation to customer service but also you will identify whether there is an opportunity to sell other services to the client. Ask questions such as would you buy other products or services from us or recommend us to friends and family. If they say yes, then clearly you should be directing your marketing communications in such a way as to encourage them to seek out other services or to refer a friend.


So in conclusion, new business is a must for any law firm but existing clients are just as important. You have managed to sell to them once, they are now warm leads who will be interested in what else you have to offer. What is the worst that can happen? They may ask to be taken off any future marketing communications from your business. And the best, they may enquire about a new business opportunity.


If you would like to find out more about sales and marketing strategies, speak to Zecter today. We are experts in helping law firms to improve their sales and marketing effectiveness. To contact Joe Simpson please email Alternatively, please call 0333 207 6551 to book an appointment or visit our website at