For many lawyers, the thought of business development is the very bane of their existence. Even the most "gifted" rainmakers occasionally experience a sense of "Oh, my gosh, another year, another mountain to climb." As the legal business becomes more fiercely competitive, it can be daunting--and darn right discouraging--to face the challenge of meeting and exceeding 2017's business goals.
There's hope, provided you're realistic.
The primary determinant of business development success is how much mental energy or “think time” you devote to marketing and sales. Yet few lawyers allocate much time to their mental game. The result is often short-changing your most important client: You.
Why do some lawyers take full advantage of business development learning and training opportunities, while others pooh-pooh them or delude themselves that it’s not important to improve their knowledge and skills? Why do those who admit that better BD skills are important nonetheless procrastinate forever, promising themselves that they’ll get to it when they have more time?
Summer is over. It's time to get back in Prime Time business mode. Ten weeks from today, Wednesday, November 23, the end-of-year clock starts ticking as people traverse the US to be with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. That means that you have less than three months to take meaningful steps to reach your annual revenue goal.
Law firms are paying more attention to, and investing more money in, business development, but many lawyers still aren't sure why all this is happening and why they should do things differently. The answer: The legal service market has undergone a basic and permanent economic shift from a demand market to a supply market.
The reality is that we can’t get, make, find or have more time. Time simply passes, inexorably, day by day, minute by minute. We can, however, choose how we spend our time. Indeed, “time management,” is a misnomer; I prefer to call it Choice Management.
Every three months you go through your paper and electronic "pockets." You'll find notes, phone numbers, etc. Ask yourself, "If this was the most important thing in the world right now, what would I be doing about it?" This question forces you to assign an action verb to the item, which is how you'll get something done.
Punctuality is a basic social contract. It’s a visible demonstration that you do what you say you’ll do. Or that you don’t. An appointment is a promise to answer your phone or appear at a meeting on a specific date, at a specific time. Not 10 minutes late. Or five. Or even two. At the appointed time. Here's how to guarantee it.
For many lawyers, their professional day is measured by how much they get done. As a result, they speed through the day and slow down their improvement rate. Instead of squeezing your days for maximum productivity, do the opposite. Create slack in your day so you have "empty space" for learning, creativity, and doing things at a higher quality.
Tom Peters has persuaded me that it’s important to escape the linear thinking for which lawyers seem hard-wired, and which makes it hard for them to absorb seemingly unrelated information and synthesize fresh ideas from it. Perhaps this is what people mean by thinking outside the box. You can’t think outside the box if everything you’re exposed to is inside a single box.
Many lawyers see the final two weeks of December as a business development Dead Zone. Prospects and clients are scrambling to meet year-end deadlines, and are distracted by professional- and family obligations related to the holidays. While this reasoning is understandable, the danger of shutting down your BD effort completely is that two dark weeks turns into four, or six, or more. Here's what to do instead.
There are nine "people" inside you who will make you a poor listener and derail your sales call. Here's who they are and what to do about them.
Eleven weeks from now, Wednesday, November 25, the end-of-year clock starts ticking as people traverse the US to be with family and friends for the (US) Thanksgiving holiday. What does that have to do with business development?
Who is your most strategically important client? It's you. Specifically, your practice growth. And you're not treating that client well when you make yourself the lowest priority, paying attention only sporadically and with little thought. Move yourself up the priority list.