Successful lawyers have many contacts willing to introduce them to prospects or others who can help them. Too many introductions are squandered because the lawyer being offered the introduction doesn’t manage the proffer properly.
The result is a pleasant but vacuous meeting with no logical basis for continuity, where nothing gets accomplished, all at the cost of creating two new debts.
What are the debts? When you offer to introduce me to Jack (below), I owe you. When Jack meets with me primarily at your behest, you owe Jack. We’ve created two debts. If I do this the right way, Jack will thank you for introducing me, and he’ll owe you.
Before ever speaking to Jack, though, I will have to do a few things.
When a referral source offers to arrange a meeting with someone she knows well, thank her for the offer, and ask how she thinks you can help that person. Ask your source why she believes the referred contact will welcome the meeting and benefit from the meeting itself— not from the great work you’ll eventually do for them. The answer identifies the problem that the prospect will acknowledge having. It may prove to be the agenda for your meeting, but it’s definitely the foundation of any worthwhile introduction.
To illustrate, let’s say that our client, Janice Brown, wants to introduce us to a friend and colleague. Here’s how that exchange might proceed, and what we’ll have accomplished by doing it this way.
Here’s the conversation that should take place during the introductory call to Jack.
When you speak with Jack again, don’t forget the lesson you just learned and assume the securities issue is still Jack’s action imperative. His environment is particularly dynamic right now. Always reconfirm. By the time you meet, the securities problem may have been eclipsed by something else. If so, be prepared to abandon it in favor of whatever is most pressing then.
Whatever issue commands the agenda, learn the hard deadline for a solution, and lead Jack through a dialog that results in him quantifying the economic importance of the problem. This not only reconfirms its priority, but also establishes a very high ROI for the cost:value relationship for your legal fees.
By doing so, you get Jack to do something really important for you: position your solution as a return on investment rather than a cost.
Next, we’ll focus on the actual sales investigation meeting.
Lawyer business-generation confidence survey
In 2013, we surveyed lawyers about their level of business-generation confidence. It was eye-opening.
In the intervening six years, competition and pressure has ramped up:
Clients are competitors, beefing up in-house staff and bringing more work inside
Alternative legal service providers
Technological disruption, including machine learning and AI
BigData, CLOC, and increased scrutiny on legal operations, cost, and service delivery
BigFour accounting/consulting firms steadily encroaching