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If you struggle with sales success, check to see how many of these 10 sales “sins" you're committing: 

  1. Fear rejection. We all fear rejection, but if you're experiencing it in sales, that means you're selling the wrong way. The only way to be rejected is if you're trying to get someone to do something that's not in their self-interest, or its correlation to their self-interest isn't yet clear to them. If you shift your purpose away from trying to get them to say "yes" in favor of trying to get them to decide one way or the other, you'll eliminate any basis for rejection because there's nothing to reject.
  2. Fail to allocate time for skill development. Any lawyer with more than six years of experience saw at least part of the 25-year bull market for legal service, during which selling skills weren't all that important. There was plenty of business for everyone; if you didn't get this deal or case, you'd get the next one, and there was always a next one. Now, that game is over. In a competitive market, amateurs have no chance against skilled salespeople.  
  3. Forget that you're not the client, that how you would react to the sales information is immaterial. "Never use yourself as a focus group" is longstanding wisdom in the marketing business. "In this situation, if I was the prospect, I would..." is irrelevant. You're not the prospect. You have no idea what the prospect will do in this situation. But you can learn how to find out.
  4. Talk too much and listen too little. You won't learn anything unless you ask good questions and listen to the answers. I mean, really listen, not merely pause until you can speak again.
  5. Lack real goals and objectives. "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." Without a clear, measurable goal, you can't make decisions about how much time or money to invest. The result is random marketing and sales activity, which is hard to sustain because you don't know why you did it other than because you could.
  6. Poor time management skills. It would seem that, because they're in a time-based business, lawyers should do pretty well at this. However, given the demand for time-management guru Paul Burton's Quiet Spacing program, maybe not as much as I'd assume. Maybe that's why business development gets only the scraps of time left over after everything else is done.
  7. Lack knowledge of the marketplace and your clients' industries. Since the mid-'90s, law firm clients surveyed have consistently bemoaned that lawyers' don't understand their industry or business. Without that, you're irrelevant, and who makes time for someone who's irrelevant?
  8. Lack questioning skills to learn needs and qualify urgency. Lawyers have great questioning skills. However, too few of them engage the discipline to use them as the basis for their marketing and sales effort, clinging instead to the outdated practice of pitching for business. 
  9. Talk price or hourly rates instead of value. Your time has no inherent value to prospects or clients. The impact you produce for them has value, without regard to how long it took to produce it. When people pay many thousands of dollars for a work of art, is there any discussion of how long it took the artist to produce it? 
  10. Pursue a "yes" instead of a decision. When you try to get to "yes," your prospect intuitively recognizes that you're trying to get to an outcome that's good for you, but of unknown good for them. Until they resolve that, they must keep you at arm's length. Salespeople manufacture all of the prospect resistance that they pay sales trainers to teach them how to overcome. By contrast, when you're trying to help the prospect make a good decision, accepting that that good decision might be "no" to your proposition, he helps you, because he wants to make a good decision.

As the great comic strip philosopher Pogo said, "We have seen the enemy and he is us."  Many of our difficulties are within our control, or of our creation.  Put this list where you can review it frequently, and do so.

Mike O'Horo

Learn why directing all your effort toward helping your prospect make a good decision--without regard to your self-interest--will improve your results and make your prospect's and your life easier.