Where Has Salesmanship Gone Among Bankruptcy Attorneys?

Bankruptcy Is A Service Business

As bankruptcy attorneys, we are in the service business of getting people out of debt. This could come in the form of a chapter 7 bankruptcy or a chapter 13 bankruptcy depending upon the facts of the case. We have the solutions available at our disposal thanks to the bankruptcy laws enacted by Congress. It seems however, that there is an underlying ethical consideration prohibiting salesmanship in regard to filing. Although not specifically written in any ethical rule, it is silently hindering an attorney’s ability to sell the service. As in other aspects of life, those that can sell themselves, their services and other benefits, often achieve more than those who cannot sell.

First Contacts

When a prospective client first reaches out to the law firm by way of a phone call or  an email, that prospect has a need. In some cases, the need is simply to gather information about a topic that they may consider at some future date. For others, it is a desperate attempt or cry out for help. The manner in which that first phone call or email is handled, will dictate whether or not that prospect appears for an initial consultation. That initial phone call or email is where the salesmanship should begin. The attorney should stress the benefits and relief that bankruptcy can provide while talking about the negative affect and drain that remaining in debt entails. A clear distinction between immediate relief and continued anguish must be depicted. Otherwise, the attorney is simply a Wikipedia entry explaining the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Although important and necessary, a route illustration of the different chapters does little in terms of selling the service.

Face To Face Meeting

If you are successful enough in having the client schedule an initial consultation, you now have an incredible opportunity to sell your services. You now have the opportunity to connect with the individual or couple in a much more personal way than you did over the telephone or through email. You have the ability to see the emotions that have lead this person to your office. You now have a great opportunity to illustrate just what the relief can provide. You are able to paint a picture of a date in the immediate future where either all or a portion of the debt is either eliminated or reorganized. You have the ability to talk about prior success stories. You have the ability to show videos, articles, blogs, thank you letters and any other item which will distinguish you and differentiate you from other attorneys. However, you are likely not going to engage in any type of salesmanship. In many cases, the face-to-face meeting is no more than an interview, explanation of chapters, and a wait-and-see from the prospect as to whether or not they want to move forward. The main hurdle is that most prospects do not want to file bankruptcy. They are fearful of what a filing may do to their future credit worthiness.  They would like for the situation to resolve itself without the need of having to file.

Ethical Concerns?

I don’t feel there’s anything legally or ethically holding back a bankruptcy attorney from engaging in sales. After all, the bankruptcy attorney knows better than anyone regarding the type and nature of relief that is available. The bankruptcy attorney has seen and handled hundreds or thousands of cases where relief was granted. The attorney knows the end result before the client has even made the first step. For these reasons, it is ok for the attorney to be more than just a simple service provider. It is ok for the attorney to advocate positively for the engagement of the service. It’s ok for the attorney to ask for the business with strength and advocacy. Otherwise, the prospect may very well wind up hiring another bankruptcy attorney who happened to be better in terms of salesmanship.

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