Whether we’re talking about professional business development or our personal lives, there’s always a long list of things that we don’t get done, despite our declarations that we coulda, shoulda, woulda, oughta, wanta do them. So, which do we actually get done? Only those we must do. What defines “must,” and how does it differ from those aspirational descriptions?
It’s simple. We must do something when a) the consequences of not doing it are known and deemed unacceptable, and b) we’ve made a decision to act based on a).
Why is this important for lawyers trying to develop business?
To answer, let’s first look at the progression of the biggest problems faced by all salespeople:
High “no-decision” percentage, which leads to
Protracted sales cycle, which causes
High cost of sales
In the case of lawyers, who rarely track or measure cost of sales, we can substitute “time” as a proxy for dollars. Lawyers waste most of their time trying to get potential clients to reallocate a slice of their current legal spend to them. You don’t think of it this way, but you’re asking prospects to make two decisions:
To change existing (perhaps longstanding) buying habits
To make you the beneficiary
You may think that your inability to accomplish this two-part mission is a reflection on your skills, experience, or reputation, or on the quality or duration of your relationship. That’s possible, but unlikely. Far more likely is benign neglect. After all, prospects don’t have to make either of those decisions. What will happen if they ignore those decisions completely? Nothing at all. There’s no negative impact.
Think about the pros and cons here. The only pro is that maybe they gain some as-yet-unknown advantage by awarding you a slice of the current legal service pie -- but only maybe. That’s a pretty fuzzy value that won’t motivate many people. There are a lot more cons, and they’re much clearer.
- They don’t want to have to manage another law firm
- They don’t want to disappoint, or explain the work reduction to, their current lawyers
- They’re too busy to devote time and attention to a decision that’s of minimal significance
Decisions involve risk, and we only take risks when they’re necessary to get something important or valuable. Unless prospects perceive that failing to decide will produce sufficient negative consequences that cause unacceptable impact, they’ll decide not to decide.
Your interests are best served, and align best with those of prospects and clients, when you help them more fully assess and appreciate the Cost of Doing Nothing. If those costs turn out to be low, both the prospect and you can abandon the problem as not being important enough to require a decision. On the other hand, if your facilitation reveals more strategic, operational, economic, and career impact than they previously recognized, you’ve performed a valuable service and delivered meaningful value. Wouldn't you rather be the helpful insider who's a welcomed part of the decision?
The alternative is to make your pitch, then wait around for a long time for a decision that probably will never come.
If you recognize that the ability to expose the Cost of Doing Nothing is a valuable -- and valued -- skill, you’ll be happy to know that the process of applying it is easy to understand and manage. It’s so simple that lawyers at the earliest stages of their careers have done it successfully with a little instruction and guidance.
Want to know more? That’s easy, too. Simply book a complimentary 30-minute call with me at your convenience.