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Let’s say that my previous posts about your biz dev activity level and ratios convinced you of the importance of measuring what you do so you’ll know what works and what doesn’t, and how much of it you should do. Now arises the “how” question.

Unlike full-time commercial salespeople who spend all day generating and converting sales opportunities, few lawyers have frequent enough sales interactions to have any sense of this by mere observation.

An email-to-telephone campaign

The easiest way to generate legitimate sales opportunities is to conduct an email-to- telephone campaign in which you solicit your contacts’ views about a business issue that’s relevant to them.

  1. You’ll send out X number of emails each day to those on your list.

  2. A percentage of these email recipients will agree to share their views with you.

  3. A percentage of those calls will result in a referral to someone else to speak with.

  4. A percentage of calls will reveal sufficient concern about the issue and a willingness to discuss how it affects that company. That’s a legitimate opportunity for a sales investigation (never a pitch).

  5. A percentage of those opportunities will result in you getting hired.

  6. You’ll estimate the projected value of each of those matters. (Yes, I know it’s not easy to project, but this isn’t your first rodeo; you should have had a conversation with the prospect about cost, beyond mere hourly rates.)

Focus on what you can control

Of all six steps, the only one you can control is #1. How many you send, how often, how consistently, and how effective the Subject line and message are at getting the email opened and responded to, respectively. How many emails do you have to send to generate each dollar of new business?

On Day One, the only answer is “I don’t know.” So you have to begin measuring.

You begin by committing to a daily goal. How many emails will you send each day, every day? Not only when you’re not busy. Every day. As with exercise, it’s important to be consistent to form reliable habits.

I’ve created a spreadsheet for the lawyers I coach so they only have to enter the names of those to whom the send email each day. The sheet calculates all the ratios for them. It looks like this:

Emails sent per day

Emails sent per day

Impact of zero-email days.jpg

You’re tracking the number of emails sent per day compared to your daily goal. You won’t be perfect, but this lawyer’s 80% is very good. But the gross number is a bit misleading. Her overall percentage was dragged down by one and a half poor days on May 21 and June 3.   

However, if she had sent even one email May 21 and one more on June 3, she’d be at 85%. That’s the importance of consistency.

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Percent of “yes” replies = topic relevance

The percentage of “Yes, I’ll speak with you” responses shows the relevance of her discussion topic. 45% is great; she’s found a topic worthy of people’s time and attention.

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Percentage of referrals per “yes”

As shown at right, the percentage of referrals is important, too. No list is long enough to keep you going forever. With each call, you have to extend it by referral. Her 56% is very good. More importantly, you can see that her referral percentage is increasing each week. This says that she’s getting better at it.

Opportunity generation and closing percentage

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The next metric is the number of sales opportunities generated per call, and her closing %. She’s finding a sales opportunity in one of ever six calls (17%), and is closing 33%, both of which are very good. She’s only had three decisions, so it’s too soon to conclude much. Over time, a larger number of decisions will make the closing % reliable for planning purposes.

It’s important to project the fee value of each matter, then compare it to actual fees collected. Over time, that will show her how well she’s doing at estimating the value of each sale.

Business value per email

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Remaining focused on the only variable we can control -- the number of outreach emails we send -- we divide the amount of estimated business closed by the number of emails we’ve sent to date, which tells us what each email we send is ultimately worth if our ratios remain unchanged. Wouldn’t that motivate you to send just one more today, and to make sure not to have a zero day?

Level of activity required to reach your goal

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We began by asking, “How much BD activity will it take to reach my goal?” One more calculation will do it for you. When you divide your goal by the value per email, you see that, assuming current performance ratios, this lawyer will need to send 256 outreach emails, and perform equally well at identifying and converting opportunities to generate $400,000 in new business. Now, you should have no excuse whatsoever to make time to get those emails out every day.

Want help calculating your ratios?

I’m sure that if you spent some time, you could create the formulas that produce these calculations. But the one thing you have so little of is time. If you’d like to begin tracking your activity and results, and generate a clear picture of what it will take to achieve your goal, send me an email and I’ll create a copy of this spreadsheet and share it with you.

If you’re unsure of how to create an effective email outreach campaign, schedule a call with me and I’ll teach you how to do it. It’s my gift to you for reading. You’ll be surprised how easy it is, and that it can be enjoyable.

Mike O’Horo

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