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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Marketing: Getting Found
The biggest business development obstacle lawyers face is time -- more accurately, the lack of it. That severely limits the number of legitimate sales opportunities you can generate, and the amount of selling you can do. But, what if you had dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of people selling for you?
The legal marketing and sales literature is inundated with a single word: “relationships.” We’re urged to deepen, strengthen, or expand them. Whichever, it’s always about relationships, whether with suspects, prospects, clients, or former- or dormant clients. Whoever they are, whatever their circumstances, we need to have a better relationship with them. Not. Here's a contrarian view.
For many senior lawyers, the Holy Grail of law practice is to become regarded as indispensable to clients. These lawyers are the first ones called when a client must make an important decision or deal with a serious problem. The "indispensable advisor" status is at the top of a ladder that consists of four escalating degrees of stature, based on your increasing impact.
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.
In a 2015 Altman Weil survey, 65% of respondents said equity partners weren’t busy enough, and 79% said non-equity partners were insufficiently busy. As a result, for the last 18 months, law firms have been laying off lawyers, counseling partners to leave and closing entire offices. Here's what that means to you, and how to protect yourself.
The biggest marketing and sales obstacle lawyers face is unconscious incompetence. It means you don't know what you don't know. That's one of the four stages of competence. This matters because one characteristic of that stage is overconfidence about your innate ability to generate business, based on ignorance of what it actually takes to generate business. If you want to learn a new skill, get some professional help.
Most lawyers want to exploit the opportunity to showcase their expertise by speaking before a group of potential buyers or referral sources. Whether this occurs at a conference, or a self-hosted seminar or webinar, or participating in one hosted by another organization, the key to success lies in your ability to control these critical factors.