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How to run a great meeting

Too high a percentage of the meetings we attend are largely a waste of time. So say the lawyers, CMOs, BDOs and COOs with whom I’ve spoken about the topic. If it helps at all, the law biz is not alone in that experience and perception; the whole world suffers from “death by meeting.” Here’s how to make life better for everyone, every time.

Your first sale should be "clarity" (reading time: 2 mins)

When selling, lawyers get anxious about how to obtain a sufficient understanding of a prospective client’s problem, and share enough of their knowledge to motivate her to hire them, without giving away the store or over-investing in what could turn out to be a dry hole.

Based on how often I’ve been asked this question by lawyers throughout my decades in BD coaching, this seems a pretty universal problem. Here’s how to make lemonade out of those lemons.

Nail that meeting with your prospective client

A prospective client has identified three lawyers whom she believes possess the expertise and standing to solve her problem. The good news is that you’re one of them, and 10 minutes from now she’ll be sitting in your office to interview you.

The less-good news? You don’t know much about her beyond whatever dry information a Google search and her LinkedIn profile revealed. Here’s how to raise the odds in your favor.

The bright line between Marketing and Sales

Unless you’re helping a prospect inform and make a specific decision about a specific offer, you’re not selling, you’re still marketing. It’s only when you progress to the point where the entire focus is on deciding whether or not to buy that you’re selling. Everything else is marketing. If it’s about your products or services, it’s marketing. You may have some overlap, i.e., where you have to do some ongoing solution discussion during the sale, but the important point is recognizing that if you’re not talking about a decision, you’re not selling yet, which means you’re not getting closer to getting business.

Defining your prospect's “must do”

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?

"Yes" comes fast. "No" takes forever.

One of the most difficult lessons for sellers to learn is the importance of getting a decision. Without a decision, you have nothing. No client. No work. No revenue. Over time, as we gain experience (and, hopefully, pay attention to it) we begin to recognize that "Yes" arrives quickly, whereas "No" takes forever. 

It's not about making a deal

Do you think (and fear) that you need a whole new set of skills for business development? Relax. You already have all the skills you need: your "lawyering" skills. You just need to apply them to marketing and selling.

The "Earn the Right to Advance" Sequence

How fast should you try to move the sale along? How aggressive should you be? How long should you wait before recontacting the prospect you met with? These are the questions that comprised a high percentage of the coaching calls I fielded from lawyers over the past 20-odd years. Here's how to answer them.

The "Deadly Assumption" in lawyer marketing

In legal business development, don't assume that your reasons why someone should hire you are the buyer's reasons, too. Instead, investigate, and get the buyer to do the selling for you.

You won. So, where’s the work?

The client selects your firm; you win. However, the work never materializes, or does so at a trickle relative to what was discussed. This occurs when the purchase is driven by “druthers” rather than imperatives. The client intends to take the action discussed. However, if it’s not something they must do, it can be a long time before they get around to it, if ever. Here's the solution.

Top 10 deadly sales sins

Many of lawyers' sales difficulties are within their control, or of their creation. Here are 10 sales habits to drop.

Ready, needful and willing

Identifying business need is the anchor of traditional sales strategy. Now, "readiness" and "willingness" are more important.

Dream Client? Really? By what criteria?

So, you’ve gotten a meeting with what seems like a dream client. Make sure it isn't just a fantasy, then learn what the prospect would consider the optimal meeting outcome.

Selling with integrity

Integrity in selling means subordinating your interests to the client's by helping them make a sound, self-interested decision.

Sales Killers, part 2

Achieving better sales results requires that you avoid these "sales killers."

Sales Killers, part 1

What keeps good salespeople from achieving better results has little to do with technique or what you sell. Learn to spot these "sales killers."