Too many lawyers attempt to get on prospects’ calendars to discuss some legal service or another. Without realizing it, they’re asking someone to allocate a portion of a busy day to discuss what, absent any correlation to a business challenge, is irrelevant to that day. This is why it’s hard to get appointments, and why they’re so often rescheduled or cancelled. Here’s a better way.
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Study after study reinforces that one of the main causes of client dissatisfaction--and departure--is not knowing their business, which can mean being perceived as not having sufficient context for your legal advice to maximize its value. It also means that you won’t be able to proactively approach them with fresh thinking that will differentiate you from all the other lawyers whose expertise and experience equals yours.
If your conversations are largely limited to discussions about legal work in progress, or trying to get them to reallocate their current legal spend in your favor, you’re part of the problem. Here’s how to reposition yourself.
Somehow, it continues to be news that companies want -- and are beginning to require -- their outside law firms to be relevant, i.e., to understand their industry, business, products, and the overall context within which legal advice is formulated and rendered. How long does it take to acquire that perceived relevance. Here’s your answer.
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.
Lawyers know they have to stay in contact, or risk missing out on work that a client or prospect is willing to award them, but doesn’t simply because too long a gap between communications has made them forget you. Too many lawyers struggle to generate relevant, welcomed conversation with clients and prospects. Here’s a better way.
Earlier this year, my friend Jordan Furlong published a post in his excellent Law21 blog: How Powerful Are Rainmakers Really? In it, he shared data that suggests that the rainmakers whom firms fear as 900-lb gorillas, and treat as divas, may weigh a more manageable 225 lbs.
Why would this matter to lawyers who aren’t on their firms’ Compensation- or Management committees? Because the data shows that even very successful lawyers’ books of business are more precarious than they might think, and therefore there’s no room for complacency.
How do those who buy what you sell recognize that they need you, that you’re relevant to their world and might just know something that would help them and make some part of their professional life better? The easy part is identifying what won’t do that: Legal-service nouns. Here’s a better approach.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
Writing in The New Yorker immediately after the 2016 Iowa caucuses, John Cassidy shared an observation about communication that lawyers hoping to be reliable business generators should pay close attention to.
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.