The law industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years with an increasingly competitive landscape brought about by the introduction of the Legal Services Act in 2007. Deloitte, for example, became the last of the Big Four within the UK to announce its law offering earlier in the year.
Additionally, larger companies are no longer as happy to employ a multitude of differing law firms covering their various needs - much like the tech space, they are looking to consolidate and deal with less suppliers.
This has put attention on the cross-selling and up-selling skills of normally 'un-salesy' partners and, the ever increasing presence of the 'elephant in the room’, the new business team.
In turn this opens the door to non-legal professionals with differing skill sets. RFI's and RFP's are becoming more and more common place in Professional Services and unlike in the tech industry, where RFP's are often a procurement tick-box exercise, these seem to be competitive pitches that law firms have to be in to win.
Successful law firms and their new business teams can stand out from the competition by combatting the following 4 pain points outlined in this Thomson Reuters article from 2017:
1. Finding time to gather information that prospects want. Clients and new prospects expect a proactive advisor and business partner that understands their business, the industry, and most importantly, their needs. Often these insights and information need to be unlocked from key experts.
2. Finding new business prospects. Traditional methods are time consuming and can be inconsistent especially with time poor senior decision makers. Social selling built around authentic insights and commentary addressing prospects needs and pain points is proving very effective for our professional service clients.
3. Understanding the competition. Competitive analysis can often be overlooked but it is so important when entering a pitch as well as looking to replace an incumbent law firm. Positioning the company and partners as expert thought leaders backed up with relevant insights and advice will often add real value.
4. Obtaining the right data to support a pitch. Buyers don't just buy a service now based on relationship alone. Buyers know more about the products and services available to them than ever before and as a result, they often know what the price should be as well!
The traditional model has always relied on good lawyers running the law firm based on their relationships with clients and new clients seemingly appeared from thin air via referrals. This does still happen, however, running a successful legal practice relies on more than just qualified lawyers. A law firm is still a business after all. As well as knowledge and expertise, firms need people with strong commercial awareness and an acute perception of the dimensions of business issues – not to mention outstanding communication skills.
Imagine the combination of New Business and Commercial teams armed with timely and authentic expertise straight from the heads of their best-in-category lawyers, that combats the pain points of prospects.
Law firms have been forced to navigate an increasingly competitive business environment since the beginning of the economic downturn nearly a decade ago.