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Amid an item today in Alltop, in which Dave Kurlan talks about the sales force structure in big companies (and warns small companies not to adopt such structures), I found this gem that all solos and small firm lawyers should take to heart:

Why [the big company approach] won’t work for you is simple. The big companies are all brand leaders.  Selling their products and services is really easy compared to selling your products and services. They have instant recognition, easily get audiences with their prospects, face little resistance, can buy market share to land desired accounts, spend millions on advertising and awareness, and prospects can’t go wrong making a decision to do business with them – it’s usually a decision that can be made without risk.

Sound familiar? The BigLaw firms have similar brand recognition and represent similar purchase safety for buyers.

So, what does this mean for SmallLaw lawyers?

It points out the uselessness (counter-productivity, actually) of broad categories such as “lawyer,” “law firm” and “litigator.” Such terms are owned by BigLaw. You have to own a much narrower, more precisely defined niche, within which you can differentiate yourself. This is best accomplished by demonstrating that you understand a specific business problem well, and are, therefore, relevant to your aspired market’s world and needs.

Your goal is to climb the Impact Ladder, beginning with establishing RelevanceYour relevance causes people to choose to pay attention to your thinking. Over time, a percentage of those will give you a chance to be useful. If you’re useful with something that has high impact, you’re valuable. If you’re valuable over a prolonged period of time, eventually you’ll be indispensable.

Ultimately, isn’t that the status you want to earn with your clients?

Mike O'Horo

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