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In Larry Bodine’s blog, he references an online resource profiling 223 corporate general counsel in 19 industries.  In my experience dealing with attorneys, however, locating decision-makers within companies they want to represent is only marginally useful, because it yields marginal results.

Often, lawyers will use the excuse that, since these companies already have multiple law firms and lawyers, getting them to switch would be very difficult.  That’s generally true only because lawyers who pitch these firms based purely upon their credentials do little to differentiate themselves from existing counsel.

The lawyer who achieves differentiation, however, is the one who can consistently help prospects recognize that the Cost of Doing Nothing, i.e., the financial, emotional, strategic, and/or operational impact of not addressing particular problems is way too high.

Example:

One thing that a lot of the industries in this guide share is that they are all in the cross-hairs of the government when in comes to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (which makes illegal the bribery of foreign officials to secure contracts, etc.). While many of these GCs may believe their incumbent firms have set them up with robust FCPA compliance programs, the fact is that many major US and multinational companies often have weak programs because they do not train their 3rd party distributors (an expensive proposition). Yet, 90% of FCPA cases brought by the government are linked to the actions of these 3rd parties.

What if, merely through a pointed series of questions, you are consistently able to get company decision-makers like these to verbally tell you the risks of not having a stronger compliance program: “It might cost the company tens of millions of dollars and a bunch of us could be subject to criminal liability.”  That’s where the differentiation happens.  With all the high-priced firms at their disposal, you’re the one lawyer who has helped that GC or CEO realize that the cost of doing nothing re: existing FCPA compliance programs is far too high not to take action.

While it may seem difficult to get company decision-makers to express these kinds of numbers and threats verbally, it’s actually incredibly easy.  Within RainmakerVT, the Cost of Doing Nothing” puts you into an interactive simulation of this situation with a virtual prospect. By guiding an attorney avatar through every key interaction you’re likely to face, you get to make your mistakes in private, helping you learn and, eventually, master a process critical to client development.

Mike O'Horo

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