Have you ever spent time thinking about your client’s goals and dreams? I know what you’re thinking, “My clients want a boatload of cash.” And you’re partly right—your job is to maximize the financial recovery of your clients. But what do your clients really want? Have you ever bothered asking?
How to Discover Your Client’s Dreams
The next time you accept a case, talk to your client about the R-Factor Question. The “R” in the R-Factor Question* stands for relationship.
“If you were meeting here [timeframe, e.g., 3 years] from today, looking back over those [timeframe, e.g., 3 years], what has to have happened during that period, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”
The key to the R-Factor Question is that it always focuses on your client and not on you. Ask the R-Factor Question and write down the client’s answer in their own words. Three years is a reasonable time for there to be significant growth and progress. Don’t offer solutions or suggestions.
If necessary, prompt by asking about specific areas of their life, e.g., business goals, health, finances, family, etc. Ask,
“What would you like to see happen in the areas of health, family or finances?”
The key issues for the clients rarely change—people don’t change. Most lawyers won’t ask this type of question, so just by asking the question, you show that you care.
The Best Way to Show You Care
By asking them to visualize a bigger future, you’re helping your clients get clear about what they need to be happy. 90% of the conversation is spent on the client—almost nothing has to do with you. Simply asking the R-Factor Question shows you care.
By asking the R-Factor Question, you can learn what’s most important in someone’s future and how big their goals are. Your clients’ future is important to know, because that is the only place in which you can create value for them.
Try this out with five of your best clients at the beginning of the relationship. Ask the R-Factor Question and document the answer in a journal or in your case management system.
Documenting Your Clients’ Dreams on Paper
Once you find out what’s really important to your clients, you have to deliver it to them on paper. Summarize your clients’ answers to the R-Factor Question with a Value Creation Letter. The Value Creation Letter shows you actually listened and makes sure you don’t ask the same thing over again.
Our Value Creation Letter
It was a pleasure learning about your visions, challenges, opportunities and dreams. In our discussion, we identified three of the main challenges that need to be resolved toward these goals:
-You’re afraid that you won’t have money to pay for your daughters’ college education;
-You’re afraid you won’t have money for retirement; and
-You don’t want to have any debts when your case is over.
You have identified these challenges during our meeting. By the end of your case, we will do our best to help fund your dreams and respond to your biggest challenges.
We hope we can help you grow a bigger future.
At every meeting with your clients, you have a summary of their dreams on the Value Creation Letter. You can remind your client of their dreams at every meeting, e.g., “I know it’s really important to you that you have enough money to pay for your daughters’ college education.” At trial, you’ll know why your client needs a specific monetary sum to pay for their biggest dreams and challenges.
Why Every Lawyer Should Do This
With the R-Factor Question and the Value Creation Letter, you’re showing you care and have a personal interest in helping your clients achieve their dreams. You’ll find out new information that you had no idea and the benefit to you?
You’ll get a bunch of referrals because your clients love that you’ve taken a personal interest in their dreams. It should be pretty easy to beat your competition, because none of them are doing this.
*Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach