Learning to learn

Many lawyers struggle to learn business development skills, in no small part because they don’t embrace the need to get better at it.

80% of your firm's lawyers just don't want to learn BD skills

That’s a pretty bold claim, isn’t it? I realize that it’ll ruffle some feathers, maybe even make me a few enemies, so I don’t make it lightly.

In the almost three decades that I’ve been the sales trainer and coach for lawyers, my client firms and I observed with great frustration that 80% of the lawyers in whom those firms invested serious money to have me train and coach them did little or nothing, constructively abandoning the firms’ investments.

You might say, “Mike, what it the problem is you? What if those lawyers just didn’t like your style, or you personally?” I’m sure that’s true of some, maybe even a lot, but as you’ll see, the percentage of waste is consistent among hundreds of firms that I didn’t work with.

What was easy for a long time is now hard

Law firms know that their growth depends completely on their lawyers’ ability to generate additional clients and work. Fortunately, for 20 of past 30 years, up until 2008, that didn’t require much in the way of formal skill or discipline. Demand was robust, and any lawyer who was likable and expended a reasonable amount of effort was generally successful.

Throughout those 30 years, law firms tried to help their lawyers acquire the skills to generate profitable business predictably and reliably. They retained trainers and coaches, beefed up internal biz dev staff, spent money on their online presence, etc.

I say “tried” because, according to (admittedly unscientific) surveys that I conducted among hundreds of firms, they perceive that the other 80% was wasted on the wrong lawyers, whose avoidance behaviors suggest only one conclusion: They don’t want to learn these critical skills.

The data

I interviewed 100 law firm CMOs, BDOs, practice group leaders, and administrators, and the Association of Legal Administrators polled their membership in preparation for a presentation I made at one of their management meetings. We asked two questions:

  1. How do you choose which lawyers will receive BD training and coaching?

  2. What percentage of those dollars do you think are wasted by lawyers who opt out of the training after it’s purchased for them?

Responses showed surprising consistency across the spectrum of firms, irrespective of size, specialty, geography, the nature and provider of the training/coaching scheme, or any other factor.

% trng wasted.jpg

As the table at right shows, a quarter of respondents said they didn’t know, and didn’t even feel comfortable making a guess. Setting aside the outliers (“all of it wasted,” “none of it wasted”), the rest were pretty evenly distributed in three bands of perceived waste: 20%-35%; 40%-65%; 70%-90%.

The trainee selection method didn’t make much difference. Whether the firms provided training primarily to associates, provided it for everyone, provided it to lawyers who showed interest or requested it, or any other criteria (“showed potential”; “previous results”; “seniority”; “BD personality”; “partner recommendation”), they reported a high abandonment rate.

Ironically, the highest average failure rate was among lawyers who showed interest or requested training/coaching.



So, why do such a high percentage of lawyers waste the firm’s money -- and the opportunity to develop skills that are inarguably critical for success in the fiercely competitive market that they’ll face for the rest of their careers -- even those who specifically requested it?

False demand. When firms announce the availability of biz dev training and coaching, lawyers are savvy enough to know that even if they don’t really want it, it doesn’t look good if they appear not to want it, so they sign up.

Conscription. Many firms present training/coaching as a fait accompli, i.e., they choose certain lawyers whom they believe need the help, or “show promise,” or some other driver. Since the lawyers didn’t request the training, they feel justified in not making time for a legitimate effort.

“Not what I thought I signed up for.” Lawyers have lots of formal education, the result of which is what I call a “curriculum orientation,” i.e., they’re in the habit of checking off courses as completed, never to be revisited. However, acquiring real skill requires repetition, practice, and coaching. When those lawyers find out that it takes serious time commitment and sustained effort, they lose interest or come up with a rationale to justify abandoning it.

No perceived need

Whenever we’re presented with a new idea or skill, we progress through four predictable stages of Competence. We all begin at the first stage, Unconscious Incompetence, which means we don’t know what we don’t know. One of the traits of this stage is unjustified overconfidence in our innate ability to perform, based on ignorance of what it actually takes to perform. Here’s a frivolous example.

Let's say we're talking about golf. Since I've never played, I'm definitely at unconscious incompetence. Comparing golf to other sports I've played, in my ignorance I may conclude, "How tough can it be? The ball isn't moving; it sits there and waits for you to hit it. There's no shot clock, so you can take as long as you want. There's no defender, and everybody has to be real quiet so as not to distract you. How tough can it be?"

With that mindset, how likely am I take golf lessons and coaching, even if someone else paid for them? I don't perceive a deficiency. Therefore, no need.

Any golfers reading this are chuckling at my naivete, and can't wait for me to give it a try so they can have a laugh as I disabuse myself of this foolish notion. So, I go out on the course and try to play, with predictable difficulty. Only after I've struggled can I appreciate that there's a lot more to being able to play golf than I was aware of.

Conscious Incompetence

I've just progressed from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence; I now know what I don't know. One thing I know for sure is that if I want to be good at it, I definitely will need some help learning the game. Only now do I experience any desire or need for training or coaching.

There's always more to any skill than meets the eye. Few lawyers have much experience at all with real marketing or selling, much less doing either in a competitive environment. As a result, most believe that what they've seen, or read, or heard about from more senior lawyers, is the totality of it. Others believe that it's innate, the province of "naturals." That belief sometimes takes the form of, "You either have it or you don't. It can't be learned."

Obviously, holding either view won't motivate you to seek training, or make use of it if it's provided to you.

Worse, there's a whole generation of lawyers who made lots of rain for a long time without ever learning how to do it. Giving proper respect to the time and effort they expended, their results were more the product of the sustained demand for legal service that existed for more than 20 years until around 2009. If everybody's buying, and they're not overly concerned about price, and your firm's brand is solid, and your economic- or social circumstances give you access to buyers, how much skill do you really need?

Now for the heresy

What if the lawyers who waste the training and coaching simply don’t want to do business development -- at all? What if you gave them all the opportunity to opt in or out of biz dev, without consequence or negative judgment? How many would breathe a sigh of relief and opt out? How many would plow ahead and find a way?

With the high degree of reported waste, and the consistency of the percentage-of-waste data across so many diverse firms, it seems reasonable to conclude that four out of five lawyers just don’t want to do it.

If I don’t want to do something, I surely won’t spend time and effort learning how to do it. However, since I haven’t been given the blessing to opt out, I can’t simply announce that I don’t want to do BD; that’s not going to go over well with the firm’s leadership.

So, I’ll sit through workshops at retreats, a few lunch-and-learn sessions in the firm, maybe even a few group training sessions. But when it comes to putting in serious, consistent effort, committing to and achieving weekly goals, being prepared for coaching sessions, and allocating time during the business day, I’ll opt out, either explicitly or, more likely, stealthily.

How to eliminate the training/coaching budget waste

As the data show, irrespective of firm characteristics, trainee selection scheme, or training/coaching provider, efforts to induce compliance with training and coaching programs have demonstrably failed. Persisting in coercion or inducement brings to mind Einstein’s comment about the insanity of continuing a failed approach and expecting different results.

It’s time to abandon the failed force-them-to-comply philosophy in favor of identifying which of your firm’s lawyers want to develop marketing and sales skills, and invest only in those.

How do you do that?

The only credible approach is to give everyone an equal opportunity to learn, then measure who demonstrates by their behavior that they’re serious about learning.

You could assemble a library of diverse articles, white papers, eBooks, etc., on a wide array of marketing and sales topics, and make them available to everyone in your firm. You’d need a mechanism to measure who did what -- and didn’t, but there are ways to do that.

Some will read everything that you make available, and do it consistently, week after week. I’m betting that half your lawyers won’t even take a single look at it, not even mildly curious. Others will try to game the system, visiting occasionally to leave their fingerprints. Some will behave as they do with exercise, i.e., initially gung-ho, but tailing off after a short time. Still others will consume the materials in episodic surges, on again, off again.

For some though, it will be a continuum. At some point, you’ll decide that they’ve been at it long long enough to convince you that they’re serious. Encouraged by their apparent consistency and commitment, you make a modest training investment and measure their participation in that. At some point, you’ll be confident that you’ve observed enough learning behavior, over a sufficient time span, to have satisfied your progressive criteria, and identified themselves as deserving of serious coaching resources.

Mike O’Horo

My latest innovation is Dezurve, which has cracked the code on identifying investment-worthy lawyers and eliminating training budget waste. Now, you can provide first-class business development education to each lawyer in your firm for a year — and identify those who deserve serious investment in training and coaching — for a per-lawyer cost roughly equal to the cost of coffee for a week.

Before investing in gender-specific BD training...


Everyone is familiar with the Law of Unintended Consequences, defined as “outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.”

In this case, the purposeful action is law firms creating business development training geared specifically for women. The potential unintended consequence is perpetuating the idea that BD is about the seller in any way.

Last December, a consultant friend in this industry asked her peers to recommend “thought leaders to interview about business development training geared toward supporting women.” She acknowledged that “there is always a question of whether men and women should have particularly focused training in this area.” Most of what follows I wrote then, in a private response to her.

I wish I had published this when I wrote it. In today’s atmosphere, gender topics take on greater sensitivity. Please accept that this is technical advice, not social commentary.

Foundation principles

Throughout my 25 years coaching thousands of lawyers of every description, I’ve found that these principles help lawyers keep things gender-neutral:

  • If you adhere to the outdated "relationship first" approach, you'll rely on social interaction. Men and women socialize differently, which raises the risk of gender-based discomfort.
  • Interactions based on relevance, i.e., business topics that are important professionally to the other party, are inherently gender neutral. If it's not about you, there's less risk of gender sensitivity.
  • If you ask questions instead of making declarations, it's less about you.
  • If your suggestions are phrased as questions, e.g., "Would it be helpful if..." or "How do you think this might work...?" you're unlikely to be perceived as talking down to someone.
  • To enable effective skill development without the need for gender-specific training, first rethink the presumption that a personal relationship is prerequisite for getting business.

A personal relationship is not prerequisite for getting business

The longstanding belief about how lawyers get business is, “It’s all about relationships.” Based on that, it’s understandable to perceive that training for women should be different than that for men because women form relationships differently -- where they interact, and also the language and pacing of those interactions.

The “relationship first” approach worked during the seller’s market that ended in 2008. In a buyer’s market it’s outdated. The critical factor today is “relevance.”

Today, buyers don’t have time to develop relationships with would-be sellers. There are too many aspirants, and most buyers already have a job-and-a-half.

If you doubt this, think about the poster child for all this traditional relationship-building investment.

You know what I mean. You like and respect each other, and enjoy each other’s company. Over time, you’ve done enough of this that it’s grown into a friendship. You have a history of “catching up” lunches. I call this “personal intimacy.”

More frequent cancellations and reschedules

However, more recently, you notice that those lunch invitations are accepted with declining frequency, it takes a lot longer to get on someone’s calendar, and you’re cancelled or rescheduled more often. It’s become much harder for your friend or contact -- even your best client -- to justify diverting time and attention from her job-and-a-half to indulge in lunch with you.  

She doesn’t like you or trust you any less. She’s busier, and forced to judge her availability by different criteria. While spending time with you is personally enjoyable, a social lunch is an interruption of her day, not an addition to it.

Your friendship isn’t relevant to what she’s obligated to focus on. 

The other rebuttal to the “relationships are everything” claim is simple math. During the seller’s market, everybody was buying, and buying a lot. That meant that buyers had the luxury of buying at least a little from all of their lawyer friends. There was no need for lawyers to invest time generating demand; the demand was already there.

There wasn’t much need to master the process of getting decisions, either. Prospects had already decided to buy; you were merely getting “your share,” however that was defined.

It’s very different today

Now, buyers are shifting a growing percentage of their legal spend away from traditional outside law firms, building up their internal capabilities and making use of non-traditional alternatives such as offshoring, boutiques, professional service firms, and technology solutions.

Buyers have more friends than outside-counsel budget. No relationship can protect you from that trend, so why invest in bucking it? Your friends might feel bad about not buying from you, or not being able to have lunch, but they have little choice.

Studies show that B2B buyers primarily use web-based sources to inform themselves now, and as a result usually have advanced 70% of the way through the traditional sales funnel on their own before being willing to consult with a seller.

This is all happening without you, at least in the person-to-person sense. 

Professional intimacy

Whether or not people like you or would enjoy spending time with you isn’t germane. These new relationships, which I call “professional intimacy,” form the same way that friendships form, cumulatively over time, as a result of frequent exposure. However, the exposure is now mostly digital, where they consume your thinking and become more familiar and comfortable with it, and trusting of it.

They allocate time and attention to your thoughts because you’re relevant, maybe even provocative; you contribute to their ability to deal with the challenges they face every day.

The new relationships are not between individual buyers and you, but between organized groups of buyers (such as an industry) and your ideas.  

Knowing how you think

By the time they decide to speak with you directly, or consider you for an assignment, they already know you -- at least, they how you think about the issue in question -- and you’ve already created demand for yourself by contributing value with your thinking.

They don’t know you, the person, but you the relevant contributor.

If you eliminate the assumption that demand is based on a personal relationship, and accept that “idea relationships” are based on people opting into consuming your published content, gender becomes irrelevant.

When you read a provocative article about a business issue you’re obligated to care about, do you even notice the author’s gender, other than as a passing afterthought that has no bearing on the content’s relevance and usefulness?

Converting interested inquirers into paying clients isn’t about you, either. It’s about your ability to facilitate a good decision, independent of your self-interest, that will survive subsequent scrutiny.

Decision-making among many stakeholders is difficult. Few organizations are good at it because most lack a reliable decision process. The seller who facilitates a reliable decision process brings differentiating value to those stakeholders. (Like you do with them after you’re hired.) That usually translates into strong reasons to hire you.

decision triangle w-explanation.jpeg

Before you embark on gender-specific BD training, ask yourself, “What is it about establishing and reinforcing a differentiated market position, and facilitating buying decisions, that is gender-specific?”

Mike O’Horo

Acquiring and mastering business development skill is a three-part mission: Education, Training, and Coaching. Each produces a different outcome, and should be accomplished using different tools at appropriate cost.

  • Education produces understanding, awareness, context, but no skills. Like law school. The Dezurve content library lets you accomplish this easily, conveniently, and at trivial cost.

  • Training is the actual doing. It produces practical skills available to you when you need them in the real world. RainmakerVT online simulations and video courses let you learn and make your mistakes privately in our virtual world, at modest cost.

  • Coaching produces tangible success by guiding you to apply successfully the skills you learned.

Click on the links to learn more about each component. Contact me to discuss your situation and options.

Why triggering demand for your expertise makes all the difference

There’s no demand for legal services per se. Nobody wakes up in the morning saying, “Let’s buy some ‘litigation’ today.” There’s no demand for legal service nouns.Demand is the byproduct of relevance, usefulness, and value. Those attributes derive from a client’s need to solve a problem or exploit an opportunity. 

In only 7 Weeks...

For business developers, Thanksgiving is the virtual end of the year. Use the remaining 7 weeks to assure a strong start to 2014.

Asking the right questions will become more valuable than finding answers

Successful law practice depends on asking the right questions, the right way, in the right sequence, in support of the right purpose. Likewise, astute salespeople must have the experience and judgment to ask the right questions that cause prospects to examine complicated or difficult issues in new, more useful, or more penetrating ways, leading the prospect to an optimal decision.

How to hire an internal Marketing/BizDev professional

how to hire.jpg

In an earlier post about the length of time it takes law firms to hire a Marketing/BD executive vs. how long it takes their clients to hire a CEO, I argued that the protraction was the product of a chain that begins with

  • a) lawyers' ignorance about marketing and sales, leading to
  • b) low perceptions of value from those functions, causing
  • c) low urgency to fill the role.

Unfortunately, it seems that lawyers are pretty comfortable with a), so to solve b) the CMO/BDO community will have to step up to the plate in a way they haven't done yet if they hope to reverse c). If they make meaningful progress, here are my (uninvited) suggestions for how they might make a great CMO/BDO hire in half the time.

First, the executive committee, or whomever will make the final decision on a CMO or BDO hire, should be tasked to decide what they really want from this person. Do you want a leader, or a manager? 

Begin with the annual review

Think through and create the person's annual review criteria, and define what specific accomplishments would constitute "exemplary-", "better-than-average-", and "merely acceptable" performance. Once you've established objective success criteria, you can engineer backward from there to define the skills and capabilities necessary to be exemplary.

Objective evidence of capability

Second, define what might constitute reliable evidence that the person has has those skills and capabilities. This becomes your search consultant's recruiting guidelines, and your interview guidelines. Prepare a project or other "tryout" assignment that validates the claimed skills and emulates some key component of the job responsibilities. Someone can either perform or not. This avoids false positives or -negatives based on the person's relative ability to interview. Do you want to hire a good interviewee, or an executive who can get the job done?

For example, you could develop a flawed planning scenario for them to critique and improve upon, or require them to produce some original thinking that shows their understanding of the strategic challenge and mastery of potential solutions. Pose internal political dilemmas for them to untangle and demonstrate interpersonal acuity and judgment. The idea is to make such a demonstration the first step in the process instead of one that's engaged after many interviews and much time invested.

Have recruiters validate capability first

Provide these demonstration projects to your recruiters and insist that your first contact with a candidate be their response to it.

Fix the interview process

Don't merely schedule interviews with any partner who wants to get in on the act. Have a purpose to each interview, and a concrete reason for including each interviewer.

For example, certain partners or firm executives should be assigned to skill/capability validation; others to culture fit, etc., instead of having everyone try to assess all factors.

Each interviewer should have to submit a written interview plan explaining what the interview is supposed to ascertain and accomplish, and how. If a partner won't take the time to think through and prepare the interview, a good candidate will recognize that and correctly conclude that this position isn't important.

With these interview plans in hand, you can assemble a rational interview scheme and avoid wasting everyone's time on redundant, repetitive interviews that tell the candidate that your firm doesn't have its act together. 

Remember that candidates are evaluating your firm, its leaders, its members and its atmosphere just as much as you're evaluating their capabilities and "fit." You're both trying to ascertain if you can succeed together. 

Mike O'Horo

Where did I end up? Is that where I meant to go?

What will constitute a successful year of rainmaking for you? Will it be whatever it turns out that you happened to get, or will you set a goal that would represent real accomplishment, and put in place a plan to achieve it?

A year to hire a CMO? Seriously?

Hiring a marketing or business development executive takes law firms 2-6 times as long as their corporate clients. Could this be a reflection of how unimportant they view marketing and sales?

Sales-avoidance and the next new (legal marketing) thing

Lawyers will do anything, buy anything, embrace anything that offers the possibility, however remote, of getting clients without having to sell. All the money that lawyers spent over the past 25 years on the progressive iterations of marketing communication (brochures > PR > newsletters > events > websites > social media) have all been about sales-avoidance. 

Are you ready for the law firm Final Four?

With a huge spike in law firm “mergers” and lateral recruitment, law firms need to stop the madness and start increasing PPP by using existing lawyers to generate business.

Client-Grading For Better Profits

All clients are not created equal. We all know that. It's time to stop living with bad clients, and take a systematic approach to culling the wheat from the chaff. 

A (PR) rose by any other name...

The good news/bad news cover in question.

The good news/bad news cover in question.

The late entertainer George M. Cohan is quoted as saying, "It doesn't matter what you say about me as long as you spell my name right." His point was that as long as the newspapers caused the public to know his name, he could live with any editorial negatives.

But what happens when it's the other way around, i.e., the (virtual) ink is positive but they spell your name wrong? Perhaps I just found out.

We all write articles intended to earn the attention of our target market segment, and to establish what has become known as "thought leadership."

The most recent online issue of San Diego Attorney magazine published my article All Referral Sources Are Not Created Equal. It’s about how lawyers can convert unproductive referral sources into fewer productive ones. I trust you'll find it helpful.

For me, the good news is that they published it, and listed it on the cover. (No, that young, good-lookin' guy isn't me.) The less good news is that, on the cover, the Table of Contents, and the article itself, they misspelled my surname as O'Horro.

Out of curiosity, I Googled "Mike O'Horro" (fervently hoping there were no ax-murderers among my ersatz namesakes). Happily, the few Mike O'Horros listed are probably more respectable than I am. The better news is that Google seems to have solved the problem for me.

A search for Mike O'Horro produces (drum roll) the same results as if you'd searched for Mike O'Horo. Maybe the takeaway is to publish often so that search engines will interpret misspellings as an intent to search for the correctly-spelled entity. Or, it was simply my lucky day.

Kidding aside, for those who publish relevantly and consistently, over a long period of time you become a relative fixture in the search engines, and you might just be able to overcome a human error that would otherwise have erased your effort.

Mike O'Horo (with only one "r")

You know you have to improve your business development skills to get the business you need. But most of the training you see offered feels more like a degree program with a someday/maybe payoff rather than the specific help you need right now.

RainmakerVT is the most innovative, effective, convenient and affordable business development training you can get. Take a look at our course list, and then read what lawyers like you said about RainmakerVT in user-feedback interviews.

How can you run a great meeting?

How to facilitate a productive meeting that earns engagement from participants -- especially if it's about your business development practice.

Lessons learned from "Not your father's client team"

What happens when you establish and sustain a law firm client team process that breaks all the rules and puts the inmates in charge of the asylum? You learn that the inmates should have been in charge all along.

Lawyer business development "practice"

Q: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"

A: "Practice, practice, practice."

Violinist- canstockphoto10877671.jpg

How do you develop the kind of client roster and revenue level to which you aspire? Same answer: Practice, practice, practice. The key word in any skill-based pursuit is "practice."

For some reason (one that may not even be conscious), lawyers seem to expect themselves somehow to intrinsically know how to get business, i.e., without any training or practice. Why is that? Would they expect themselves intrinsically to be able to play the piano, turn the double play, prepare a gourmet meal, play scratch golf, or write the Great American Novel?

I don't know about all those other sublime skills, but my theory of why lawyers expect to get business without skills or experience is because, up until the Great Recession of 2008, they did get business without skills or experience. Lots of it. From the mid-to-late '80s until the economy tanked, they plied their trade amid a perfect storm of demand for legal service that enabled annual rate increases of from 6%-10%.

This experience caused lawyers to believe that marketing and selling were easy, and didn't require any real skill. The glitch is that they weren't marketing or selling; they were order-taking.

The order-taking era is over, permanently 

It's time to deal with the real world, i.e., what your clients have faced for a long time, and it's characterized as declining demand and increasing competition, both of which require real marketing and sales skills.

Because nobody is born good at it and there are no "naturals," that means you have to  actually get good at marketing and sales, which means:

  • understand what it is 
  • learn how to do it 
  • practice, to get good at it (and confident)
  • do it often enough to become experienced 
  • get objective feedback and coaching so you can improve and approach the "artistry" level 

You'll get good at business development the same way you got good at lawyering. So, let's start by no longer calling it "business development" and, in recognition that the five bullets above represent an investment and progression over time, hereafter call it "business development practice."

Mike O'Horo

RainmakerVT's online training simulations include a free "Practice Mode" that lets you refresh what you learned - in five minutes or so just before you apply the skill in the real world.


"Be distinct..or extinct"


So stated Tom Peters, the management guru who co-wrote In Search of Excellence and many other books. It conveys the same message as Jack Trout’s Differentiate Or Die.

The "die" part of Trout's warning doesn't refer to sudden, traumatic failure. It's more akin to death by a thousand cuts. If you think about it, you've probably already seen signs of it.

  • The longtime client who now puts "your work" up for bid
  • The uncomfortable discussion about reducing your rates
  • The senior people with whom you've always had "a good relationship" don't call back right away, or at all
  • Another law firm being selected for a transaction that's always been in your sweet spot - and you learned about it through the legal media or rumor mill

Are any of these clients angry with you or dissatisfied with your work? Not necessarily. It may be that, because this class of legal work is mature, everyone who does that work has become indistinct, and they're now lumped together in the "capable law firm for [legal service category]." Because the choice of firm that performs it has become less risky, and therefore less significant, the choice may have defaulted to whomever they had contact with at the time the need arose.

If you're comfortable being part of a large, indistinct mass of capable law firms that are seen as relatively interchangeable, do nothing. You're already there. Together, you can drive prices downward to where, in the face of rising operating costs, you're in danger of extinction.

If, however, you aspire to be perceived as a firm or lawyer of impact, with the pricing power that goes with it, you've got to be distinct. There aren't many ways to do that, but they include:

A different perspective on an ongoing category of business problem, and a fresh approach to solving it ("Everybody treats this as an HR/employee exit problem, but it's really a trade secret problem...")

Innovative service delivery methods that reduce cost, speed up delivery, eliminate redundancies and align better with clients' operations (Think back to the original big-transaction electronic deal rooms that made real-time document collaboration a reality.)

A precise focus on a narrowly-defined market segment, where you're the industry expert of record ("Sarah is the organic restaurant lawyer; nobody knows that space like she does.")

As Jack Trout (and his late partner, Al Ries) sagely teach us in the first two principles offered in their seminal work, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing:

It’s better to be first than it is to be better.
— The Law of Leadership
If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
— The Law of the Category

How can you be first? How can you be different?

It doesn't have to be world-changing, like Henry Ford's mass-production line. It can be something simple like Ungaretti & Harris becoming, in 1995, the first law firm to offer a written client satisfaction guarantee, signed by all the partners.

Or the first lawyer to represent only other lawyers.

Or the first bank to finance tort litigation.

You get the idea. Now come up with a first for your practice.

Mike O'Horo

RainmakerVT is the world's first interactive online business development training for lawyers. You'll learn by doing as you manage an avatar through networking events, sales calls and other common, but challenging, marketplace activities. At each critical juncture, you'll decide what to say or do next, and you'll receive immediate video coaching that explains why that choice was or wasn't the optimal one. You learn, make mistakes, get coaching, and practice -- in complete privacy. RainmakerVT is available when you are, 24/7, from any computer or tablet. You can buy only the specific training you need right now to help you with what you're about to do in the real world.

How much does it cost? You probably spend more at Starbucks each week.

Here are rave reviews from lawyers just like you.

We’re very thankful…

…for all the help, guidance, advice, insight, encouragement and support we’ve gotten over the past 3-1/2 years as we’ve re-invented client development training via RainmakerVT.

As all entrepreneurs will admit, there’s a long, arduous stretch between the “Eureka!” moment when you see the future and how you can create it, and the heady point where you’ve become the de facto standard that everyone uses and against which competitors are measured.  When you’re inventing something completely new (“disruptive innovation” as they like to call it in Silicon Valley), this stretch is defined by more unknowns than it’s possible to conceive of at the outset.  That’s probably a good thing.  If we actually had a list of the obstacles, frustrations and disappointments in front of us, would we still have embarked on the journey?

Along with those challenges, however, we also got to experience the rush of creativity behind doing something that’s never been done before.  The six weeks that Craig and I spent in our equivalent of Boeing’s Skunk Works, during which we scripted all the RainmakerVT lessons, tests, interactions, scenarios and dialogue, were simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating. All the battles with our technology partner as we stretched them far, far beyond their comfort level to invent true interactive simulations, were worth it when we saw the finished product and heard the glowing feedback from lawyers who participated in our user evaluation program.

There is much, much more to learn, experiment with, succeed and fail at, and experience as we continue.

Today, though, we’d like to thank all the lawyers, consultants, trainers, coaches, CMOs, BDOs and others in the legal marketing-and-sales-support industry who have been so generous with their time, knowledge, wisdom, contacts and relationships.  Many of you have been friends for much of the 20 years we’ve spent in the law biz, and we couldn’t even have attempted to create RainmakerVT without you.

We also thank Brad LeaJason StraubBrad Doyle, and the entire crew at LightspeedVT for for believing in us, and for all their smarts, skill and perseverance during the dark days of figuring out the complicated puzzle that became RainmakerVT — while overcoming the recurring urge to take us into the elevator lobby and shoot us.  You translated our vision into reality.

We’re nowhere near declaring success as we envision it, but there’s no way we could have gotten this far without the encouragement and support of our families, who somehow always manage to see a bright spot amid our every disaster, failure and frustrating setback.

Two family members in particular are worthy of special acknowledgement:

Trish O’Horo Wilson, who, without being asked, simply started helping us, taking care of a bunch of administrative tasks that were falling through the cracks every day.  All of a sudden, Craig and Mike had more time to focus on priorities.  It’s our good fortune (and Trish’s bad luck, I guess) that Trish is both a seasoned business executive and a seasoned sales person.  

She managed our user evaluation program masterfully, then started selling and managing accounts, and managing Mike — no small task, that.  Today, we recognize that she’s been the perfect startup co-founder, wearing many hats interchangeably, seeing what needs done and making it happen.  That we refer to her as our COO is akin to describing a decathlete as a javelin-thrower.

Helen O’Horo Gillespie, despite having her own flag-distribution business to operate, and also without being asked, saw that we were overwhelming Trish and started off-loading a lot of Trish’s duties, so quietly and effectively that it was a few months before we even knew of her role.  Her focus and dogged persistence assure that whatever she puts on her plate gets done. She and Trish operate so independently, and coordinate so seamlessly, that we were able to remain blissfully ignorant of how they had made our burdens so much lighter.  It’s like we have this other team within our team.

Special thanks to Trevor Goss, without whose knowledge and energy this website -- and our ability to communicate with you -- wouldn't exist. You'd still be looking at the tired site we had for too long.

Finally, but most importantly, many thanks to the forward-thinking law firms and lawyers who, seeing the same future we see, purchased RainmakerVT knowing it was new and imperfect, and who continue to partner with us to improve every aspect of the product, user experience, and our ability to support its effective application.

With that, we wish everyone a rejuvenating Thanksgiving holiday and, if you’re traveling, a safe and hassle-free arrival and return.