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PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING INSIGHTS

| 4 minutes read

No Longer Taboo: Helping Lawyers Embrace the Power of Selling to Win More Clients #LMA21!

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of being back to live in-person events at the LMA Annual Conference in Florida. It was great to reconnect with this amazing community and hear from some of the legal industry's leading experts in BD & Marketing. 

The first session I attended had expectations high with Erin Corbin Meszaros, Chief Business Development and Client Service Officer, Eversheds Sutherland and Rory Channer, Partner, Kendall and Company tackling the topic of 'Selling' and how lawyers can embrace it to win more clients. 

There wasn't a spare seat in the audience and this session certainly didn't disappoint! 

The Buying Process

Starting with the buying process, there has been a fundamental shift in how businesses are acquiring their legal services. Compared to 2008, the buying journey involves a lot more autonomy from clients who now have: 

  1. More decision-makers involved
  2. More choice
  3. More information overload
  4. More value-added support
  5. More seamless supplier engagement

With the growing complexity in how firms are hiring lawyers and purchasing their services, Erin and Rory challenged the audience on how to get their lawyers to become better at selling. 

Here are a few of their insightful recommendations on how to move the needle within your firm: 

1. Conduct a Rainmaker Study in your firm 

Who are the people in your business that are the most successful? Whether you define that as those with the biggest or the most profitable books be sure to define how these lawyers develop and retain business. 

Understanding what a rainmaker looks like in your firm will help you to build out best practices and replicate the same working-winning behaviors with your other lawyers. 

Analyze your rainmakers on how they spend their time throughout the working week. When and how do they communicate with their existing and prospective clients? 

From conducting a similar survey, Rory, with the help of Matthew Dixon, observed rainmakers have the following traits in common:

  • They have a high level of empathy and spend a lot of time thinking about their clients
  • A good sense of EQ (Emotional Intelligence)
  • Are very focused on BD
  • They have a 6th sense of their clients' likeliness to buy, meaning they waste little time
  • They assimilate and communicate what is around the corner for their clients which is a large aspect of how they differentiate from their competitors
  • The more introverted rainmakers are highly effective at educating their clients
  • And, they tend to get through their BD early in their working day

2. Influence & build relationships at more than just the General Counsel level

Of course, GC's are still an important aspect of winning and maintaining client accounts. However, that said, they hold far less power than they did back in 2008.

With more stakeholders involved in your clients' buying processes, it's important to take recognition of this in how your lawyers aim to build and nurture relationships. 

Legal Operations and procurement have been attracting a far greater share of wallet and a seat at the table when it comes to choosing between law firms. 

Erin encouraged attorneys (junior and senior) to connect with their wider buying groups. Attorneys should use the following channels to engage with more stakeholders at clients and prospects:

  • Invite them to attend/speak at your events
  • Co-create content with them
  • Utilize social networks to build relationships - make sure you connect
  • Follow the latest company news on hirings and promotions.  Make sure to also follow contacts after they have moved on from their current role
  • Engage your referral networks - be sure to ask

3. Best practice for your Client Listening Programme

According to the speakers, one of the most important things that all law firms could be doing right now is adding legal ops, procurement, and the more junior in-house team members to your client listening programs. 

When it comes to deciding how often to collect feedback, this should happen as frequently as the client is willing to do so. 

Mid-matter client listening will help to identify potentially unforeseen red flags. Whilst most Partners will not want to hear feedback mid-matter, this could potentially prevent a scenario where a firm will consider moving on from using your firm. 

Provide more benchmarking and data to clients on how you are going to work with them and utilize their regular feedback. This will get them more invested in the outcomes of the feedback. 

4. Engage earlier in their buying journey 

Traditionally, firms would bring their trusted advisors into their buying journey as they started their due diligence. Now, however, they are doing far more of their own research before going to market.

Law firms, as much as they might not want to be, are suppliers. It's on you to think about the different avenues you can utilize to engage and inform clients. 

Work with your Partners to build more sustainable networks. Recognizing that connectivity is vital in today's business landscape, try to create an environment that lets you engage on topics more than just trying to sell your services.  What are your in-house legal teams interested in beyond their day-to-day? 

  • Pro-bono
  • DE&I
  • Empowering Future Leaders programs

Leverage this information to build and foster stronger connections with your clients. 

What Next? 

Recommendations from the session: 

You need to continue refining your skill sets to become better at sales - across your firm. 

The pandemic has given us access and greater investment into digital technologies. Tools like Zoom provided channels that were not commonplace before. You need to continue developing your relationship with technology to remain effective. 

Finally, change is the only constant. We have to understand how our clients' environments are changing, how this is altering their buying journies, and adapt in order to ensure we can continue driving results.

Change is the only constant

Tags

e2e, marketing, professional services, lma21
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