A hugely entertaining and interactive session was hosted by Debra Flanz (Arendt & Medernach) and JeanMarie Campbell (Baker McKenzie) during the LMA Northeast Conference looking at consultative selling in the legal industry.

Having heard earlier in the day from James Kane and his 3 crucial elements of building loyalty (do you make my life safer, easier and better?) this session connected nicely. 

The focus was on enabling your lawyers to be more consultative in their approach. Importantly really listen to the client and then arm them with value added insight to achieve their business goals (not a goal preconceived by the lawyer!). 

The ABCs include:

  • Attainment - do you see things from clients perspective? Research shows you need to ask at least 11 questions but no more than 14 to zero in on what the pain point is
  • Buoyancy - the 80-20 rule, can you persevere?
  • Clarity - we need to help our client understand what the problem is through value added information. The fewer choices the better when doing consultative selling (check out paradox of choice by Barry Schwartz  for more on this).

This final point is important because as Debra and JeanMarie pointed out, it used to be hard to get information on a potential provider of a solution (the lawyer) but now your client will have compared you to your competitors online, they will have reviewed your profile and if you are not in that conversation then you will likely miss out! 

Equally if you are adding value at all stages of their buying journey (even before they know they have a challenge) you will be helping to shape the conversation and best position yourself as the 'go-to'.

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article from 1966 that explained the 3 key concepts a seller of professional services should keep in mind. These very much mirrored the above. One concept that stuck out was the need for the seller to minimise uncertainty revolved in managing a business for the client.  

This links to Debra's final point that you need to help the client save money, enable them to look good and help them to be more productive. In summary, take a walk in your client's shoes.