Is Your Law Firm Intake Process Good Enough?

April 14, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Chris MullinsChris Mullins is the “Phone Sales Doctor” and Founder and CEO of Intake Academy, where she educates lawyers and law firm staff on how to convert callers and qualify good cases. For over 25 years, she has helped law firms around the country convert prospects into clients. At Intake Academy, Chris serves consumer law firms, specialty dental practices, and other select businesses through lead conversion staff training, customized lead conversion scripts, call center performance assessments, and much more. Previously, Chris was the CEO of Mullins Media Group, which offered consultation, training, online seminars, and motivational seminars.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Chris Mullins discusses the two types of scripts your intake specialists need to use.
  • The RMFD approach: Report, Monitor, Feedback, Daily.
  • How does Chris train intake specialists?
  • The best way to respond to leads—including after-hour leads.
  • Strategies for creating a positive intake experience.
  • How can marketing and advertising vendors support the intake process?
  • Learn how to get a free critique of one of your prospect phone calls.

In this episode…

For any law firm, great marketing is not enough if your prospects don’t convert. So, what are the best intake strategies for creating a positive intake experience? And how can you support your intake team to convert more prospects into clients?

According to Chris Mullins, if you don’t have an intake team, you don’t have a law firm. With over 25 years of experience helping law firms with their intake process, Chris knows what works—and what doesn’t—when it comes to intake calls. Using her tried-and-true approach, Chris shares how to self-critique calls, seek out opportunities for improvement, and build relationships with call centers.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast, Matthew Laurin sits down with Chris Mullins, “Phone Sales Doctor” and Founder and CEO of Intake Academy, to discuss everything your firm needs to know about intake processes. Chris talks about how to use scripts as a guide, monitoring calls as a leader and learner, and the best tips for supporting your intake team. Plus, Chris shares a special offer just for Esq.Marketing Podcast listeners! Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, president of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin 0:22

Hello, everyone. I’m Matthew Laurin, president of Esq.Marketing. And you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where we share success stories to help build your practice. Today, we are joined by Chris Mullins, Chris known as the phone sales doctor for more than 25 years has helped hundreds of law firms around the country convert more prospects into clients. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Mullins 0:42

Thank you so much. I appreciate it

Matthew Laurin 0:45

was a pretty brief introduction. Is there anything I’m missing in there?

Chris Mullins 0:49

No, no? Nice. I think it gets straight to the point. So that’s okay.

Matthew Laurin 0:53

Great. Today’s topic is about determining if your law firms intake process is good enough. A lot of our clients have marketing programs in place, paid advertising, SEO, email, what have you. So once those prospects come into, or notice their law firm and come into their practice in the form of phone calls, or form fields or things like that, often, there’s a whole nother piece of the puzzle for them trying to figure out and converting those people into paying clients. And that’s where you, that’s what you specialize in, correct?

Chris Mullins 1:27

Right? Exactly. I mean, at the end of the day, great marketing is not enough. If your prospects don’t convert.

Matthew Laurin 1:38

You’re totally right. If If you have all these money invested in marketing, and you’re bringing in leads, and they don’t turn into anything, that it’s all pretty much sunk costs.

Chris Mullins 1:49

In law firms, you know, they get really excited about marketing, and all the different types of marketing. And they throw a lot of money at it, which is really important, and they should do it. But they completely forgot about intake, they forgot to add intake to their marketing team.

Matthew Laurin 2:09

So you help law firms get up to set up with your own intake specialist. Right. They do the intake process for your clients.

Chris Mullins 2:19

Yeah, well, pretty much what we do is, if a law firm is looking to hire intake specialists, we provide some interviewing to help them with that process. But the main thing that we do is we inspect with experts. So we listen to the law firms recorded phone calls, and we will review them and critique them. And then we coach and train their intake team on how to improve conversion based on the call recordings that we listened to. And we’ve heard.

Matthew Laurin 2:53

So do your intake specialists use scripts at all?

Chris Mullins 2:57

Yes, and the thing about scripts is, you really should call them scripts to get your team used to the s word scripts and the other s word sales because intake specialists are not typically hired that way. And they should be. So you should definitely call it what it is. It’s a script. You don’t want your intake team to sound robotic, which most people think is how a script is used. But it’s used in many different ways. A script really is a roadmap and a cheat sheet with the right type of sales language, that your intake specialist needs to guide them through the process. So you should have two types of scripts. One should be the typical one that most law firms are familiar with, which is screening questions. So don’t just throw your intake specialists on the phone, have some screening questions for each type of practice area that you have. And those really would come from, you know, like the lawyer or the law team at your law firm. knowing what’s the minimum questions the intake specialist has to ask to qualify that prospect to get to the next step whatever it is at your law firm some is let’s sign DocuSign retainer on the spot some it’s scheduling an appointment or you might need to let that prospect know that you can’t help them see that it has screening questions. And then the other kind of script is like we have one that we call a five step relationship sales conversion script. This script is a sales language is built around your intake screening questions to guide your intake specialist to do all the the empathy the sales language, the love care and concern, build the trust in the relationship and intimacy and then kind of close it with a big wow by the end of the phone conversation to get them away from just licensing and registration question answer question answer for Answer.

Matthew Laurin 5:02

My favorite part about what you said was at the beginning about how you use scripts, but you don’t want people to sound robotic. And I think a lot of times people have that connotation in their head that you’re using a script. And it always reminds me of our subject who was a sales guru I listened to. And he talked about using scripts. And he said, My favorite story he had was about people being in a movie, like When’s the last time you were in a movie? And you said to your friend, oh, this is horrible. They’re reading from a script. You’re right, they have to act as a roadmap, they have to use those as a guide to to feel more natural later on.

Chris Mullins 5:45

Yeah, absolutely, they have to have it. The thing is, your intake specialists are taking a lot of phone calls every single day, one after another, they have a very difficult job. It’s a challenging job that they have. And it’s very traumatic, they’re taking on the trauma of all those phone calls that they’re receiving on a regular basis. So they need a life raft they need to trust and like almost fall in love with this script, and know that it’s there as a tool to guide them to help that person feel like they’re being held on the phone. And at the same time convert.

Matthew Laurin 6:22

How do you guys monitor prospects? Phone calls that come in?

Chris Mullins 6:27

Yeah, well, here’s, let me let me say this, here’s what I’d like. All the law firms out there to do, I mean, we, we definitely do it for you. But you know, we’re not going to be there every single day. So you’re you’re there every single day. So you need to do this. And we call it RMFD RMFD report, monitor feedback daily. So I mean, it’s most of you are getting your calls recorded, especially because of the marketing. And RMFD is your marketing insurance policy. So when you’re listening to your call recordings, which is the argument the R getting recorded, and F D, monitor the monitoring them, you’re doing F a feedback and D for daily, then you’re protecting your your marketing, insurance investment. And all you have to do is schedule it, just get it scheduled on your calendar, I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, if you’re not currently doing it any change is difficult with time, get it on your calendar, push through it, make it be a regular thing, if you can’t do it daily, I know, different law firms, different sized law firms have different resources. But if you can’t do it daily, just do it every week. And what’s most important is just begin and get started and do it and be consistent, your team’s not going to like it, they don’t want you to do it. They don’t want to hear their recorded voice. Nobody likes their recorded voice. For the most part, I don’t like my recording voice. And they’re certainly not going to love hearing their calls. And then when they get a critique and feedback, or whatever you want to call it, they’re not going to like that either. So you got to get through that. And you got to support them and help them but just schedule it. Let’s just say once a week, you pick recorded calls for your intake team, you as the leader. So let’s just say you’re the intake director or intake manager or intake leader, Team Leader, whatever title it is, listen to some phone calls for each team member. And before you let them listen with you write down your notes, and I want you to cover what’s working, because there’s always something working. So what’s working? What are the opportunities? And how can we fix it. So this you listen to the call as the leader, you write that down, then you have your one on one or your group session, however, you have to organize it with your intake team member or complete team however it happens. And you let that that team member of the call that you have, first let them review, review and critique it, don’t you do it? Let them do it first so that you can get an idea of their instincts of how they feel about the call. So you play the call and they cover those same three areas. What worked? What were the opportunities, and how would they fix it and then you as the leader or trainer or whatever your title is, you give them your feedback, you’ve already listened to it. And then together as a team, you come up with a solution. So RMFD is critical. And you know, at the end of the day, the only reason to not do it is if you chose all of a sudden not to do marketing and we know that you’re not going to do that. So if you’re going to spend time, money, energy and effort on marketing, you have got to Inspect what you expect, listen to the calls, critique the calls and share it with your team and help them get comfortable with it.

Matthew Laurin 10:09

I’m a firm believer in positivity for anything. And I like how you call those opportunities and not what’s not working.

Chris Mullins 10:18

Right? Yeah, absolutely. But the other thing, if I can just say real quick, Matthew that you can do, and this will help. The leader of I’m saying leader, because you know, all law firms call people, different titles and everything. So the leader in that department, it’s, it’s a lot of work, in addition to everything else they’re doing to do record, monitor feedback daily, or weekly. So what you can do to help yourself, which will also help your intake team is in addition to what I just said, require them to do self critiquing. So once a week, they have to listen to X amount of their phone calls. And they have to cover those three areas, and they have to send it to you in an email. So they’re doing some self critiquing. And then you’re doing the live coaching and training self critiquing does not replace what I first explained to you. That’s critical, but the self critiquing, it’s like, what you focus on expands, what gets measured gets done. So the more monitoring we do, the more comfortable they get, the more they get used to it, and the better they get no matter what.

Matthew Laurin 11:33

Chris, I’m curious about onboarding intake specialists. And you touched on that for a minute there about training, how do you train on intake specialists? Well, as you

Chris Mullins 11:44

do all the legal training, you have an understanding of your law firm and all of that, which really should be first. This kind of like the book learning of, of a law firm, and but making sure that they really understand don’t just throw them in a room and say, read this. But after you get that part done, it’s the part that I want to guide you on is them with phone calls. And you know, the first thing that you can do is you have an intake specialist that’s already sitting at their desk, and you could have the new person, but the trainee sitting next to them, but have them listen to both sides of the conversation. Invest in a splitter is what they call it, and let them listen to both sides of the conversation and then talk about it with the person that they’re sitting with the intake specialists they’re saying with and then let them get on the phone. And and you can you can tell the prospect that, you know, Mary’s on the phone with me, and she’s in training, people are used to hearing that in businesses, it’s okay to say that, and I might interrupt her and answer a couple of questions, but get get her on the phone or him on the phone as soon as you possibly can. So listening to both sides of conversations, and then they get on the phone call. And then also let them listen to phone calls and critique them covering those three areas to see if they really understanding it. But really, for me, the main thing is getting them on the phone quickly. Don’t just throw them don’t just say like, here’s your desk, go ahead, and let’s just see how you do, you got to coach them, and the team leader should do it. The intake manager should do it, you can have different team members that are really good at what they’re doing, do it so they get a flavor for everybody. But don’t put them on the phone training somebody that’s having problems and challenges because they’re going to pick up those habits of those behaviors. So just put the time into it and schedule it on the calendar. And you know, the first the first 90 days should be aggressive training, not you know, they get one or two weeks of training and then that’s it, they should be considered in training for at least the first 90 days.

Matthew Laurin 14:01

What is your typical response time on phone contacts?

Chris Mullins 14:06

So you’re talking about leads, right?

Matthew Laurin 14:09


Chris Mullins 14:10

Okay. So above and beyond the inbound calls, that everybody’s getting any of the money that you’re spending on leads, whether it’s text leads, or chats or anything like that at all, or email, it’s it’s immediate, you’ve got to have somebody focusing on that, that lead raised their hand on the spot for hell. So you’re like, you got to get to them right away. I mean, as fast as you possibly can, because they’re gonna call your competition. They’re gonna do the due diligence. They’re consumers like you and I. So they aren’t going to call your competition no matter what. You want to be the first one there. So it doesn’t make any sense like we talked about earlier to build in systems and spend money to get all these leads to come in but you forgot to cover well, who’s going to handle these leads, who’s going to communicate with them? Do we have a script for them. So put that plan in place, really, your intake team is part of your marketing team. And we’re all sales people. And that’s the kind of sales talk you should have in your law firm, and really consider intake part of marketing. So all those leaves, and when you’re checking off the boxes with I’m going to do this marketing campaign, we’re going to get this number of leads all the different resources that you’re using and spending your money and intake on it. Okay, who in intake is gonna be our specialists on chasing those leads? So the answer is immediate, but put a system in place.

Matthew Laurin 15:45

How do you approach those leads that come in after hours? Obviously, a lot of law firms can’t have somebody on the phone 24/7, they can’t have somebody monitoring chat 24/7, unless they have a service doing it. Yeah. What about those ones that come in after hours? How do you approach those? Yeah,

Chris Mullins 16:02

I mean, 24/7, I mean, you’re you’re absolutely right, they’re not going to have a lawyers and intake specialists at all hours waiting for the leads to come in, you know, at one in the morning, or whatever it is. So in all honesty, what you need, you can have your own internal call center that you’ve designed, that’s yours, and it’s at your law firm. And you could have it be 24/7, some law firms do that. But there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing those calls to a call center that knows how to do it, they understand law firms, they know how to do it, you’ve got to like, test them out, maybe, maybe pick two and do them both at the same time to see who does a better job. But one of the things that you really need to do, don’t just pick a call center, because your buddy said, Hey, I’m using so and so that doesn’t mean anything, you have to inspect what you expect. So ask them ask ask the call center, if you can listen to some of the phone calls that they’ve been taking. I asked him if you could have references of people that they work with, that they’ve been working with for a really long time that you can call. And the other thing that you need to do that most people don’t do still today, they have us do it for them, but you really need to do it yourself is build a relationship with that call center. You can’t just check off the box and say, okay, Chris, we got a call center for after hours and make sure they’re Spanish speaking and everything and boom, done. No, it’s not, it’s not the case, they are your staff. Your team, they’re your staff. They’re touching your money, and you’re trusting them. And they’re not even in your building, you don’t even know. I mean, they might be you might be on the east coast. And they must, they might be on the west coast. So build a relationship with a top leader at that call center, and have a scheduled time that you meet with them on a regular basis. And listen to the phone recordings that they’re handling after hours, inspect with your expect and tell them what you want them to improve on. If they’re doing a great job. Tell them that too. Because they don’t hear that a lot. You know, so tell them that you’re doing a great job, you want them to fight for you and handle your leads. But that’s there’s nothing wrong with it. What’s wrong is when you don’t build a relationship with them. And you don’t listen to the call recordings and you don’t inspect the process.

Matthew Laurin 18:41

Do you have any strategies for law firms who are just getting started? And maybe they have a secretary or maybe a dedicated intake specialist who has not been recorded up before never been scrutinized before? strategies to make that a positive experience? Because no one likes to be recorded, and then go back and listen to the recording. Like he had mentioned earlier. Any strategies for making that a positive experience that you can offer? Yeah, I

Chris Mullins 19:09

mean, there’s a couple of things.

The process that I mentioned earlier about how to critique the call or review the call, you know, what’s working, what are the opportunities, and then how can you fix it? How can I fix it? How

Chris Mullins 19:28

can we work together to do it, that would still be the same outline, if you will, but what’s really important is that you’re honest with them. So you don’t just do a sneak attack. You let them know that the calls are being recorded, and why and some good languages, you know, so Mary or John, we record iPhone calls for marketing purposes where we’re spending a lot of money on marketing and we Want to make sure that the calls are going, you know, really well, we also, we also want to enhance what you’re already doing right? So you come from a positive, because this is forever, whatever I’m telling you, this is forever, you know, this is not like, let’s just do this for a month, and see if people get it good. People get good at everything. And they fall off the tracks, and they go back to old bad habits and behaviors. This is forever. So you want Mary and John to embrace it, to come to it come from a positive place and tell them the language that I just said.

Chris Mullins 20:38

Talk to them about how uncomfortable you are as a person listening to your recorded voice, listening to your own and critiquing your own phone calls, and let them hear some of your phone calls so that they realize you’re in the same situation. And talk tell them right up front. I know like, whenever we do a training class, we’d say the same thing to all of our clients every single month, I know that none of you like listening to your recorded voice, I get it. I know that none of you like being reviewed and critiqued no matter what I get it, we do need to do this to enhance what you’re already doing. Right. And this is really the best way to learn, in addition to that would be role playing. And we’re all here together to help each other. Nobody is allowed to critique anybody, and you know, throw them under the bus or be nasty at all. So you want to make sure that when you are giving feedback, after you let Mary and John know why you’re doing it, and how often you’re going to do it and let them listen to some calls first, and then get through a little bit of hearing their own voice, you want to just be kind. At the end of the day, people will learn when you’re kind, you can tell someone you can eat. You can even say to someone we talked about this before. And maybe maybe I didn’t give you the right information or the right way to do it. So let’s review it instead of just being nasty about it. Just be just be kind, and find out how you can help them and the kinder you are and you let them critique you. Also, it’ll go smoother, but I have to tell you it, it’s just, it’s not easy for people, it’s not easy for them at all, I

Chris Mullins 22:25

can tell you something really quick. I am a runner. And I went to a running camp one weekend. And I did not know this was going to happen. They the instructor for the week, she had her iPad, and she filmed everybody running.

Chris Mullins 22:52

And I was mortified. First off,

I saw myself, she brought everybody into the retreat cabin. And then she had this big screen and she had everybody out there.

Chris Mullins 23:12

Everybody is critiquing me.

Matthew Laurin 23:15

sneak attack.

Chris Mullins 23:18

I was a mess. And I’ll tell you the truth because I want you to understand that this is how your staff feels. And it’s also how you feel too. You feel this way too.

Chris Mullins 23:30

your staff is horrified. And some people are going to cry. Sorry. They are and you’ve got to be ready to take care of them and help them

Chris Mullins 23:48

come home early. Because we’re going to get filmed tomorrow

Chris Mullins 23:56

to show how our improvements went so I’m telling you

love care and concern. Okay, because your intake team, if you don’t have an intake team,

Matthew Laurin 24:07

you don’t have a law firm. That’s a great story. And I have one last question about marketing and the intake teams. So these a lot of law firms will have a marketing company or digital advertising company or what have you. How can those vendors who may not be part of the internal team as a law firm help support the intake process? What can attorneys reach out to them for to help support the intake process?

Chris Mullins 24:40

So if when I answer you, Matthew, if if I’m not answering you the way you want, just tell me so you’re asking how can the marketing vendors help support the intake process?

Matthew Laurin 24:52

Yeah, okay. So

Chris Mullins 24:57

a lot of money Kidding, folks out there businesses from law firms, they have access to the phone calls. They record them, you know, they, they can listen to them. And, you know, make use of that service. So, talk to the marketing company, build a strong relationship with them. Again, don’t just check the box, build a strong relationship with them, and tell them that you want them to listen to them and give you feedback. You’re asking for it and have a regular session with them, not just about the marketing campaign, but about the phone calls that you you would like to have a heads up, you know, and it doesn’t take them have to be experts at critiquing calls to tell you and listen to a few calls, and they didn’t really sound customer service friendly, or I listened to a few calls, and they were amazing. You gotta hear this. So that’s what I would suggest that you do.

Matthew Laurin 25:58

Great advice, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Chris Mullins, the phone sales doctor, Chris, where can people go to get more information about you?

Chris Mullins 26:08

They can email me directly at phone success doctor So just email me directly. And anybody that’s watching this, all you have to do is email me and mentioned Matthew, and that you saw this podcast, and you will get one free critique of one of your prospect phone calls so you can send us the recording, and I will personally listen to it and I’ll talk to you on the phone, no strings attached.

Chris Mullins 26:50

And I’ll tell you what worked. And I’ll tell you what the opportunities are

Matthew Laurin 26:53

extremely generous. Thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show today. Welcome.

Chris Mullins 26:58

Thank you.

Outro 27:03

Thanks for listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

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