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How to apply "Challenger Sale" principles to ramp up your success

Gartner research found that a company’s brand, products and services, and pricing are no longer the main drivers behind customers’ purchase decisions. Instead, the greatest differentiator between B2B sellers is the sales experience. Buyers said they want to be challenged to think about things more creatively. As explained in the book The Challenger Sale, the challenger approach is one in which the seller:

  • actively teaches their prospect,

  • tailors their sales process, and

  • takes control of the customer conversation.

Eleven weeks from tomorrow

Eleven weeks from tomorrow, Wednesday, November 23, the end-of-year clock starts ticking as people travel the US to be with family and friends for the (US) Thanksgiving holiday. What does that have to do with business development?

What you know vs. who you know

You’ve heard the adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know." That reflected the relationship-centric nature of doing business in a Seller’s market. Now that you’ll face a Buyer’s market for the remainder of your career, it’s past time to upend that longstanding belief. Today it's, "It's not what you know. It's not who you know. It's what knowledge people associate you with."

Only ten weeks from now...

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. 

Relevant, Useful, Valuable, Indispensable: "Indispensable"

By the time they become senior partners, many lawyers feel that the battles they've survived have earned them real judgment. At this stage in their careers, they want someone to need, consume and respect that judgment. They want to be Indispensable. Here's what that means:

Shared Qualities of Top Sellers

Selling is a learned skill, which means anyone can become good at it if they commit to it. Like any other skill, some will have more difficulty than others learning it, but anyone can learn. Cultivating these traits and mindsets will accelerate your learning curve and raise the ceiling on how good you can become.

No, it's not "all about relationships."

The new relationships are not personal ones between individual buyers and you, but "idea relationships" between organized groups of buyers (such as an industry) and your ideas. Whether or not they like you or would enjoy spending time with you -- or not -- is not germane. This is “professional intimacy,” not "personal intimacy."

"Pay yourself first."

Make business development your first priority, instead of an afterthought that gets attention only when everything else feels like it’s under control. How often is everything in your practice under control?

Schedule a half-hour for BD first thing every morning, before you jump into the daily maelstrom of practice demands and the day gets swept away, leaving you mentally spent and regretting that yet another day slipped by without doing anything to generate future business. The key is every morning. Not “most,” or “frequent,” or worse, “occasionally,” but every morning.

"Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two." Not anymore.

Seemingly forever, the "pick two out of three" mantra was the accepted norm. Not anymore. Since the 2008 recession, clients want it all, and they're getting it. Here's how to make it possible for them to get it from you.

Eleven weeks from now...

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?

Silo Selling is Lawyer-Centric, not Client-Centric

Most lawyers are comfortable in a neatly labeled box known as a "Practice Group." Such labeling is typically the first step into the world of Silo Selling. This may provide some context and perhaps even comfort for you. However, most businesspersons think in terms of business challenges or opportunities. These perspectives are not lawyer-centric. Here's how to be more client-centric.

What’s around the bend and over the horizon?

We all aspire to have our practice fulfill our three critical needs:

  1. Interesting work
  2. Premium pricing
  3. Appreciated by clients

The key to getting this is to “own” a piece of the future.  So, what does the future look like for your clients?  What macro trends will have the greatest impact on them – and how?

Not-To-Do #13: Do-it-yourself, or work alone

When it comes to getting, keeping, and growing large accounts, the day of the lone-wolf rainmaker has passed, never to return. That worked during the 25-year law boom because everybody was buying legal services. In the buyer's market that will be with you for the rest of your career, you need to ferret out, investigate, and validate potential opportunity continuously. You need more hands on the oars, just to defend and sustain what you already have. 

The Social Dilemma

During socially-focused periods, we spend more time with family, friends and social acquaintances.  If that includes people with whom we wish to do business, it can raise the Social Dilemma: How do you pursue the opportunities that relaxed conversation often reveals without taking unfair advantage of the friendship or occasion? Here's how.

The significance of "today"

Why do clients, prospects and contacts (some of whom you know well) cancel calls, meetings or lunches?  Why does it take forever to get someone on the phone, even though you've known them forever? It’s simple.  It’s about “today.” 

"Relevance" isn't a team jersey, to be donned and doffed

You can't merely mouth industry buzzwords, donning a Relevance team jersey from time to time on game day. You must actually engage in and contribute to the business conversation. Otherwise, you'll be exposed as someone whose investment is an inch deep, unlike everyone else's all-in commitment.

“I’m not in the business of buying legal services.”

Roughly 90 percent of the legal budget is for mature categories of legal service, which means that there are an almost limitless number of capable firms to choose from, which means that the choice of law firm has little real impact. Here's how to have impact.