Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
Recently I finished up with a client. His parting words to me were “I feel like I’ve done a ‘180’ with my practice while working with you. You’ve taken the ‘mystery’ out of business development for me and now I know where and how to approach it. Thank you.”
Due out September 24, 2014 from Carswell is my second book aimed at helping lawyers and law firms grow. In this edition I take you through my proprietary methodology TST™, Targeted, Strategic and Tactical. Working with Lawyers these past nine years I developed systems and processes allowing you to get more clients with less time invested. When you become more targeted, strategic and tactical in your approaches, you will see better results.
There are two editions, one for lawyers at large firms, and one for lawyers in small firms. The small firm edition includes an entire chapter aimed at law firm leaders wishing to grow the firm. It includes:
- Becoming more effective as a leader
- Balancing Lawyering, leading, and rainmaking
- Engaging your entire team in business development
- Compensation models to reward your people and incentivise them to achieve
- Succession planning
If you are looking to grow your firm or practice, this book is a must read. You can pre-order it online from Carswell. Just follow this link. http://www.carswell.com//product-search/?qa=prod&qt=Raindance
I am very pleased to chair Raindance: The Business Development Bootcamp for Lawyers, a webinar to air September 24th. Working closely with the conference organizers at The Commons Institute, we’ve put together a stellar group of presenters including legal practitioners and legal marketers who are leading innovation in today’s marketplace. From Law Clerk, Cris Lam who will share what she did to grow her network and bring in clients to her firm; to Bobbi-Ann Wallace, a fourth year M&A Lawyer who will share her approach to business development, and Kris Bonn, a Managing Partner will share how he continued to make rain, lead the firm, manage his people, engage his team in business development and grow his firm. We also have Jana Schilder, my Co-Founder at The Legal A Team, who will cover the value of media relations in growing your firm, and Susan Van Dyke of Van Dyke Marketing and Communications, who will cover off effectively using Social Media.
In addition to the amazing content we will cover, each participant of this webinar will receive a copy of my 2nd book, “Raindance 2: A Blueprint for Growing Your Practice, Small Firm addition”, and a one-hour coaching session with me to follow the conference. If you are looking to grow your practice or firm, this webinar cannot be missed. GO to http://thecommonsinstitute.com/rain.html and sign up today. Early-bird pricing is still in effect. I look forward to working with you to grow your firm.
I just talked about giving your people the opportunity and tools in order to succeed. Now let’s talk about how you reward them for their efforts. Depending on your billing model, I offer up two compensation models which are already proven to light the flame in staff and lawyers.
Working with a personal injury firm and understanding the flow of work and the time it takes to reap the rewards and the work is not billed by the hour, The Managing Partner and I came up with this.
- For every successful case that goes to completion, whoever brought in the file, referral or direct contact will receive a percentage of the settlement. I will leave what percent up to you to determine.
- Due to the nature of personal injury work and how it often takes 2-3 years to get to a settlement, the Managing Partner thought it would be good to give them an immediate reward. So for every client that they took on, there would be a one-time lump sum bonus given to the staff member who generated the client.
- And in order to support cohesiveness and a team approach, this firm will regularly reward all staff when the firm reaches and exceeds its growth targets with a profit sharing program.
Billable Hour Model
When your firm bills by the hour and you set targets for your people to reach, there is an opportunity to create a three-pronged compensation model. The first is for hitting targets. The second is for business development. And the third prong, is to support the team approach.
- The first part of this model is rewarding your people when they get close to hitting their billable targets, when they reach them and when they exceed them. This should be customized for each person. You certainly can’t expect a junior law clerk to bill the same amount of hours as a more senior associate. So set up aggressive yet attainable targets for each of your people. Come up with a % when they get close, another % when they reach their targets, and a final (generous) % when they exceed their targets by a certain amount.
- Based on the average revenue of each of your clients or files, your business development bonus structure could look something like this. Up to 50k in collections, they receive a 5% bonus. From 51-149k, an additional 10% bonus on that amount. And for anything over 150k, a 15% bonus on the entire collection. This is a very powerful incentive.
- Thirdly, you want to support a cohesive and team approach. Figure out what benchmarks you want your firm to achieve. Build in additional bonuses for when this happens. This doesn’t have to be strictly monetary. It could be a team outing or a spa day. But be sure to reward your team as a team.
Don’t feel you have to pick one or the other. I have another client who opted for a hybrid of several different models. The important thing here is to know your people and what will motivate them and reward them best.
The first step in growing your firm is to engage your entire team, or as many of your staff and lawyers in business development. Engaging your team starts with identifying who on your team, lawyers, law clerks, paralegals, even assistants and receptionists do you think would be open to earning more income while at the same time enjoy being part of growing your firm? If your firm is like most small firms, you have them.
Approach them one-on-one with your idea. Ask them if they would be interested in taking their career to the next level? Get them a copy of this book, it is after-all designed for the individual legal professional to work through on their own or in teams. Or, go one step further and hire a coach to work with them. Point out the opportunities this will mean to them, expanding responsibilities, personal and professional growth, not to mention more income.
Don’t be surprised when some of them jump at the chance. By giving them this opportunity to expand and grow in their career, you are sending a very powerful message to them, that they are appreciated, you have confidence in them, and that you would like to see them succeed beyond what they themselves could have imagined. This builds loyalty and commitment to the firm like nothing else. Don’t be surprised to see that in addition to referrals starting to come in you notice them being more engaged in their work, docketing more, and generally becoming a more valuable resource to your firm.
Not everyone you approach will want to do this, and that’s ok. But do the math; Five or more Rainmakers vs. just you? And this is how you can begin to create a culture of business development and growth, one person at a time. Eventually you can grow your firm based on everyone being engaged in business development. More on that will follow under recruitment.
In a lot of small to mid-sized firms, your best strategy might be to start with your law clerks first. Lawyers are still very sheepish about business development. Help your law clerks succeed, and this might just shame some of your lawyers to get in on the action.
I worked with a senior law clerk of a small firm in Toronto for one year. When we began our work together she didn’t even know what business development was? Before we finished our work together, she had already begun to grow her network extensively, was published and had started to bring in referrals to the firm. By the time we finished she had already brought in enough new work to pay for the coaching program three times over. And that is just the beginning.
A first year associate who had also gone through the coaching program at the same firm, in her second year of practice, it consisted of 75% of her own clients. So this goes to prove, it’s never too early to get your people engaged, and business development shouldn’t be relegated to lawyers only.
Imagine what’s possible if you engage more of your staff and junior lawyers in business development?
This month I a dedicating my blog to those of you who have decided to grow beyond a solo practice and build a small firm and those of you who already have a small firm that you want to grow. There’s a huge leap from running your own solo-practice to growing and leading a small firm. So first let me congratulate you on your entrepreneurial drive.
Up until now you’ve likely been the only or at least main Rainmaker. So once you yourself have gone through the approaches and exercises outlined in this book, the next step is to get the rest of your team, anyone that is client facing and interacting with your clients, engaged in business development. And from experience, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. This could include all lawyers and staff. After-all, if Business Development is about building relationships, and it is, each member of your team has a different network and the ability to build relationships and attract referrals to your firm. In case you are sceptical…
Welcome to 2014. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the New Year than by providing you with some key strategies to take your business development to a whole new level. Most of you are engaged in some form of business development. But are you approaching it strategically? There are so many opportunities out there for you to get out and ahead of your competition. The strategies that will follow in future posts are not rocket science. Many of you are already doing some of them. But are you getting the results you want? Are you leveraging your approaches with each other? Are you repurposing your content across your strategies to increase their impact?
Over the years we’ve come up with a proprietary four-step process to business development. Find, Build, Discover, Offer. Find more people who need your services, and find more referral sources, and at the same time, make it easier for them to find you. Build relationships with them and earn their trust. Go deeper (Discovering) specific needs. And then offer your services to address their needs. This month I am dedicating my posts purely on the options you have to FIND. Stay tuned, lots of good stuff coming your way.
Another area to consider before working to build your practice, is what kind of practice do you want? I often think lawyers and accountants get started in their careers without taking the time to really examine what you like to do. What is the types of files you like working on? What are the types of people you like working with most? What are you best at? What are your strengths? You certainly have several choices in building your accounting or legal practice. And just like Part One, when I spoke about values, this is about aligning what you’re good at with what you would like to build.
Some people are more suited to litigation, and others more of the high-volume solicitor work. There is no point working hard to build a practice if you don’t feel fulfilled. I once had a client who, at 5 years in decided he hated being a litigator. So our work then was to reboot his career in a different direction. And he did and went on to be not only successful, but also fulfilled. But do you want to effectively waste five years of your career?
We use our proprietary TSD system in teaching lawyers and accountants how to get more clients and grow their practice. TSD stands for Targeted, Strategic and Disciplined. As professionals if you are anything less than that, you are likely not getting the best results from your marketing and business development efforts.
Targeted in who and how you are in front of people. Strategic in your approach. And disciplined in that you keep doing it even when you are busy. Being more targeted ensures that whatever you do in business development, you are doing it in front of potential clients or referral sources. Being Strategic means planning ahead for everything you do from speaking at an event, to having a coffee follow-up meeting. The part of this system is Discipline. That is often the hardest part to get in the habit of. But if you follow this system, you will get more clients. You will grow your practice.