The Importance of One Client

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

Annual Meeting From Exhibitor's View <p">Michigan native Joe Girard, a car salesman, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world's most successful retail salesperson. How did he get this title? He sold more cars than anyone else.

Girard's secret

Early in his career, Girard attended a Catholic funeral. The funeral director was passing out Mass cards to everyone in attendance.

"How do you know how many Mass cards to have printed?" he asked the man.

"I print up about 250 each time since that's usually how many people show up for a funeral," the funeral director answered.

Soon after, Girard sold a car to a Protestant funeral director. When he asked how many people attended his funerals, he got the same answer. He soon learned from another minister that about 250 people usually attended weddings in his church.

From this informal research, Girard developed his Rule of 250. The basic principle is that most people have about 250 people in their lives that will show up at their funeral or wedding. There are exceptions, of course, but the average seems to be 250.

Using his concept

Girard realized that if he did a great job selling a car to one person, he could potentially gain 250 more customers. Conversely, if he did a crummy job, he could possibly lose 250 customers.

Joe sold cars. You, on the other hand, are selling legal services. It's not a tangible product a client can touch, but it's a vital service people need—even if they're not pleased about making the purchase. The concept, however, is the same.

Each time your service produces a satisfied client, you could potentially gain 250 more clients. How does that happen? With referral and repeat business. Satisfied clients come back for more work and refer others to you.

Referral tactics

Stay connected with your clients. You can do this with thank-you cards, holiday cards, or a call to see how things are going. Stop by your client's business or take them out to lunch. Ask if they have any questions and if all is well, ask them to remember you when their friends ask if they know a good lawyer. If they have a problem, attempt to fix it.

Keep a file on each client listing personal information such as names of children, their occupation, birthdays, etc. —there are software programs that can help you with this. Use that information when you talk to your clients.

Ask for your clients' e-mail addresses and get permission to send them your firm's newsletter or occasional updates. Make sure they know every service you or your firm offers. Send information they can use, not a sales pitch. They will need legal work someday and they will turn to you.

Remember the Rule of 250 every time you meet new people, whether at an event or standing in line at the coffee shop (I once acquired a great client standing in line at Target.) Everyone you meet is a potential client, and that person could bring in 250 more clients. Keep this in mind and soon you will have a thriving business.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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