Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
Change or die is an expression that’s been around a long time in the business world. Well legal industry, get used to the expression and live by it. Moving forward things will not look like it did pre-recession. Your clients will not continue to pay over-exorbitant fees. They will look for better value and be open to using non-traditional sources for their legal work. They will demand more. The insulation so to speak, is over.
If you are one of those lawyers that continues to think nothing will change, I ask you, what was your second career choice? You may need to revert to it and sooner than later. In Canada if we want to see the future of legal services, all we have to do is look south of the border and even overseas.
But this also presents abundant opportunities for those lawyers and law firms who are open to doing things differently. Go and speak with your clients before they come to you. Find out exactly what they need from you. How you can better accommodate them? What different models do you or your firm need to create?
Change or die. It’s only doom and gloom if you don’t take hede.
Another sure-fire way to ensure you are getting more referral clients is to go the extra mile in your service delivery. Be as flexible to your clients’ need as possible.Provide them with samples or case studies of past work to help them understand the process. Make sure that if you’re not available at any given time, that someone on your team is. Never leave your clients hanging in their time of crisis. Do whatever you can to deliver the best possible service.
I’ve said this many times, but what makes your clients happier even more than your ‘lawyer’ skills, is your approach to service. Always remember, at the core, you are a service provider.And that is what will stand out for your clients just as much if not more than your lawyering ability. Another value-added approach, especially if your clients are business people, is making introductions for them to your vast network. Help them grow their business.
The easiest way to get more referrals is from your clients. The fastest way to do this is to ensure they are completely happy with your service. In my opinion, that starts with effective communication. One of the top complaints lawyers get from clients is that they don’t communicate often enough and make assumptions. Communication is at the heart of your service to your clients. So get agreement from the very beginning on how often and by which method your clients would like you to communicate with them. And also explain, the more that communication is required, this will add to the cost of your services.
The next thing I recommend, is to give your clients permission to give you feedback throughout your dealings with them. Your clients might be intimidated by you and not want to point something out when it’s relatively small. And you want to know if something isn’t quite to their liking so you can fix it in that moment before it grows and festers to the point where they don’t want to pay their bill. Often when mistakes are made, it’s not the mistake that people remember. it’s how quickly and effectively the mistake is corrected or reversed.
In addition to speaking at conferences and events, putting on educational workshops is another excellent business-building tactic. There are many applications for this. You can offer workshops to current clients as a value-add, and it’s a great way to strengthen your relationship. It’s also and excellent way of building more relationships in your prospects company or organization. One of the reasons I like this tactic so much, is that you’re not asking your contacts for anything. You are providing them with valuable content and knowledge.
Firms are always so quick to throw money at client events. But are you getting the biggest bang for your buck? Why not bring in a coach to work with your team ahead the event and set it up for success. You can use the event as a way of giving your team real practice of tips and approaches they have learned ahead of time.And you can build some accountability into the mix by having them report on their progress in follow up.
There are so many ways you can fully leverage the time of your professionals, give them a chance to learn, better connect with your clients, and watch what happens to your business.
Standing out in today’s economy is tougher than ever. More and more people are price sensitive. So how do you stand out from your competition? One of the ways is to add more value. Become indispensable to your clients. The pathway to doing that is to understand the big picture. Go beyond the services that you offer. Understand more about your client’s needs, challenges, goals, and the legacy they want to create. Find more ways to bring more to the relationship and you will stand out.
In following-up with your leads or prospects, always put yourself in their shoes. How can you add value? Why should they meet with you? What’s in it for them? If you take the ask and offer approach, you can answer those questions.
It begins with asking them how you can help? Is there some education you could provide their team in the form of a seminar? Then all you have to do is offer it to them. This is all part of taking the value-add approach to building relationships.
The key to follow up is to provide your contact with a good reason to engage with you further. If you don’t have a good reason, don’t waste their time. At the same time, the questions you ask in your follow up will help you ascertain if your contact is truly interested in furthering the relationship. You need to find this out before you invest too much of your time in building this new relationship.
How you do both is simple. Offer something of value that shows you are taking an active interest in their business. If they decline, you know they are not serious about this relationship at this time. Move on.
Would you like to increase your referrals? Would you like to have raving fans for clients? One of the ways you can do this is by making sure you know your clients are happy with your work.
Even if they smile when you have your final meeting. Even if they don’t dispute your final bill. Can you be certain they were happy with your work? Can you count on them to provide you with referrals? Are you willing to take that chance? I have worked with many clients who have realized they don’t know for absolute certainty their clients are happy.
The easiest way to ensure they are? Give them permission in your initial meeting to give you feedback. Ask them to let you know if something is not exactly the way they want it. If they are unsure about something, make it easy for them to ask you. Believe it or not, a lot of clients are intimidated by their lawyers. They won’t feel comfortable bringing something up unless you make it perfectly clear that’s how you like to work.
By doing this, you are then in a position to correct any small issue in the moment, as it happens. This prevents small issues from festering and growing into large ones. By the time they become large issues, it’s almost always too late to effectively correct the situation. This approach also strengthens your relationships with you clients.
So the next time you open a file, a new client, or long-standing one, try this approach. Watch for the subtle reaction on their face.
As I was reading this article this morning, it occurred to me I have heard this before. In fact I have written about it and given presentations. In 2008 I gave a presentation entitled “The Law Firm of the Future” to members of The Legal Sales and Service Association (LSSO), in Boston.
In 2009 I gave a presentation entitled “Crisis or Opportunity” to members of Globalaw in Banff. The content was much the same offering insights into what would be possible with innovation.
This article comes from ft.com and is written by Caroline Binham.
Read it here.