Very often, lawyers meet with Buyers who have already determined what type of legal service they want, who are saying, in effect, "We need to rewrite our employee manuals. Tell me why I should hire you to do that." In response, most lawyers start presenting their experience. But that's a counterproductive response. By doing so, you accept the Buyer's diagnosis of the underlying problem, and block yourself from learning what that problem is and offering the buyer a fresh perspective on solving it.

You're offering sales advice, i.e., deciding what the prospect should buy and from whom, without evaluating the problem. It's akin to (and as ineffective and potentially dangerous as) offering legal advice without understanding the problem.  

So, how do you begin a conversation when the prospect presumes that your category of service is needed? Enforce the discipline of learning the problem that drives demand for service. "Why do you want to rewrite your employee manuals?" We aren't suggesting that the prospect is wrong, we're just trying to understand the underlying condition, and her motivation for solving it. 

The Danger of Projection

Projection is the tendency to think that we and the client share the same frame of reference; that what would satisfy us if we were the client will satisfy her. Unconscious use of projection is a substitute for gathering intelligence on the client's need -- as she sees those needs.

Remember:  We're not trying to sell to ourselves, but to others. To do so, we must take the trouble to learn their needs, rather than projecting our own responses.

The other way that projection blocks progress is in the client-satisfaction realm. Consultants who conduct client-feedback interviews will tell you that many partners resist conducting such interviews, claiming that they already know the client's opinion of the firm's or their service. "I talk with her all the time. If something was wrong, she'd have told me." Actually, studies show that dissatisfied clients rarely confront outside counsel and explain their dissatisfaction. They simply fade away, a little at a time, until one day you realize that you haven't gotten any new work from them in awhile. When you belatedly inquire about the lack of flow, they say things have been slow, or otherwise avoid telling you the truth.

Both of these situations emphasize the same point: You must constantly probe to understand the buyer's mindset, whether you're trying to get new work or keep existing work. I say "constantly" because people's minds are fluid, not static. Each exchange is a snapshot of their mindset that day, and it may not be the same on a different day, or under different circumstances.

Mike O'Horo

Learn how to manage a reliable process that motivates buyers to include you in the decision process and actually help them make their decision. You’ll eliminate rejection from your experience forever.

RainmakerVT teaches you a proven process to help buyers make informed, self-interested, confident, comfortable decisions -- in exactly the same way you help clients do that after they hire you -- and you'll do it by using exactly the same skills, in exactly the same sequence, as when you practice law.