I've long argued that your "lawyering" skills are the only ones you need to succeed at marketing and sales. In fact, that was the title of a recent webinar I conducted. (Here's an archived recording.) Our guest contributor, mediator Jeff Kichaven, points out some striking similarities between successful mediation and successful selling. 

If it's not about making a deal, then what is it about? It's about deciding whether or not to make a deal. 

As a mediator, I improved my rate of cases settled and level of client satisfaction when I learned this distinction. Things improved when I lost my unconditional attachment to settlement and accepted that, sometimes, clients might reasonably decide to continue litigation. 

In this context, what mattered was whether I helped my clients make better decisions. If so, then the mediation was a success. 

My sales coach taught me that the same principles apply to marketing and sales. It's not about making clients hire me. It's about helping clients decide whether or not mediation is the correct route to take long before asking whether I'm the right mediator for their case. 

Consider. . . 

  • When I mediate, I don't have the luxury of telling the principals what to decide. So, why would I impose my opinion of who they should hire as a mediator? 
  • What I can do is use my mediation skills to facilitate a decision-making process that brings value by helping solve their immediate problem: Picking a mediator. Until they do that, they can't begin work on their core dispute.

In both instances, my job is to facilitate a party's informed, self-interested decision. It's a process that lets all stakeholders get to a comfort level sufficient to reach and implement a decision. 

This makes me a trusted advisor and not a mere vendor. 

Sometimes, this facilitated decision making results in clients selecting someone else. That's disappointing, of course. But by mediating the hiring decision instead of pitching myself, the litigation community trusts me more. . .and hires me into their cases more often. 

And in the long run, that's the kind of deal I want to make. 

Jeff Kichaven's most loyal clients are insurance carriers, policyholders and their counsel across the country who need his special blend of integrity, intellect and intuition to guide them through their most challenging coverage disputes. He can be contacted at jk@jeffkichaven.com.

Mike O'Horo

How important is it to focus on getting a decision, any decision? Download our free e-book, The Blind Spot that Keeps Lawyers from Doubling Their Income. In it, you'll find a financial model showing the greater impact of eliminating "no decision" vs. increasing your pipeline of prospects by 50%.