“It’s easier to get more work from an existing client than it is to get a new client.” So goes a longstanding mantra in the marketing and sales world. So, let’s say your goal is to get every bit of legal business your best client has. For the moment, set aside the practical challenges of achieving that. Begin at the beginning: What would that perfect world look like, specifically?
Right now, they’re buying Employment and Patent Prosecution from you. But they’re a disruptive AgTech company. What other legal services would they logically be buying now, and which would you project in the future based on your understanding of their industry and their business? (You do understand their industry and their business, right?)
Map industry issues to your services
Legal service demand, the kind with pricing power and low cost of sales, derives from high-impact business problems or opportunities, for which motivated buyers will create budget where there is none.
A 15-minute perusal of search results for “AgTech industry issues” showed me that this was the conversation afoot in the agriculture space and among those developing tech for it:
Monitoring crop performance and spread to help farmers overcome issues like drought. High quality 3D imagery to analyze/predict soil quality
Surveying and planting
Mass data collection
Precision use of pesticides, water, fertilizer
Spying on farm ops by environmental groups
Reduce manual labor
Precisely target spraying, reduce pesticides
Sensors and tracking
RFID sensors track whole supply chain
Trace infection outbreaks
Live soil info
Which traits and genes produce best crops
Which areas of farms produce best results
Which environmental factors cause most damage
Determine when, where, what to plant
Monitoring/mapping of yields via sensors
Agriculture relatively slow re: innovation
Scaling much more difficult
Changes in revenue distribution
Funding slower than other ‘disrupted’ industries
Livestock not getting as much attention as crops
AgTech industry immature; most funding at seed stage
The information is out there. That’s just a quickie list compiled by a layman who knows almost nothing about agriculture or law. Just think how much better you could do with your accumulated experience and access to those with a stake in all these issues.
All these factors have contributed to farmers’ skepticism about value delivered, which in turn reinforces adoption reluctance, which makes it hard for your AgTech clients and prospects to sell into this market.
Compile your own, better informed, list.
Identify the legal services that map to these factors and challenges. Don’t fall into the trap of using legal service-label nouns such as “Corporate work,” or “Environmental work.” You can’t start a conversation with those. Think more like, “We can help them reduce…” or “...improve…,” etc.
Using the preamble, “It seems like AgTech companies (or their customers) are wrestling with [issue],” initiate discussions with everyone you can reach in the industry, soliciting their insider views of these topics.
Ask each person to introduce you to someone in their circle, from whom you could get additional informed opinion.
That’s it. Before long, you’ll have a vibrant, sustainable discussion in the industry about relevant topics that position you as a thought leader and differentiate you from competitors who are still fighting over a slice of the diminishing mature legal service pie. If you’re doing it well, you should also find yourself devising fresh thinking and solutions to bring to people in the business, thereby creating your own small version of a Blue Ocean strategy.