If your firm is like most, then you regularly host client appreciation events. And this costs the firm a lot of money. Are you getting the ROI you should from these events? Are your lawyers engaging with your clients? Are they asking questions about your clients businesses? Are they going deeper to uncover hidden opportunities for your firm to further serve the client? Well I suspect the answer to be no to all of these questions. And it’s a shame. You take the time to invite your clients. They show up. Your lawyers are taking time out to attend. And what is there to show for it? A few hangovers the next morning.
Why not put on a workshop ahead of your next event and arm your lawyers with tools and approaches in how to effectively engage your clients and learn more about them. Teach them the value of cross-serving and not only what it could mean for the firm, but also their practice. Help them understand the types of questions to ask of clients to start a conversation and go deeper to find further opportunities to help your clients.
I just presented on this topic to the LMA here in Vancouver last week. There was great interest on this subject. And why shouldn’t there be? There are business development opportunities at your next client event. Leverage them. My column next month in The Lawyers Weekly goes into further detail how to set this up.
My clients often get tied up in coming up with that ‘perfect pitch’. And I tell them over and over again, “don’t pitch, ask questions”. Get to know what they need, what their challenges are. Use that valuable time to build or strengthen your relationship with and them demonstrate a willingness to listen and learn about them.
If you ask the right questions, your contacts, clients and soon-to-be clients will tell you everything you need to know in order to market to them and serve them well.
Raindance: The Business Development Guide Book for Lawyers is now available through Carswell. Click here to go to Carswell for more information and ordering.
If you are a lawyer just starting out with business development, or already engaged and looking to up your game, this book is your practical, step-by-step guide to follow in order to achieve your goals.
Many sales training programs will be framed around how you can control the process. I totally disagree with this approach. It’s unnatural for you and your prospect. Instead take a real and genuine approach by asking questions. When your prospect asks you a question, answer it to the best your ability at that point. If you don’t have enough information to answer their question, let them know.
Keep in mind that many of the people you will approach have been ‘trained’ to expect a pitch. When they don’t get one, they might be a little confused. They might even become impatient. That is why it’s important to answer their questions and not try and control the conversation or process. When you are prepared, you are in a much better position to go with the flow. Both you and your prospect will be more comfortable. And you will go a long way in differentiating yourself from your competitors approach.
Many of my clients previously got caught up in rushing to the solution when first meeting with prospects. While I believe this comes from a genuine desire to help, this is a habit you want to change immediately. Take more time and care to learn more before you offer your solutions.
DO NOT even bring marketing materials with you to that first meeting. Bring a list of carefully thought out questions so that you can learn as much about them as possible. When you think you know enough, keep asking more questions and find out even more.
If you have followed my four-step process, then you know step three is called discover. Similar to the legal version, discovery, this is where you learn everything you can about your clients’ needs, goals, challenges etc. In the normal course of building relationships it usually comes as step three. However, there are situations where you might want to consider leading with this step.
These situations include: When you get an introduction to someone; when you get a referral, and when a prospect comes to you with an immediate need. Generally this situation occurs when the person you are meeting has a need that needs to be met in that moment. There is no time to start building a relationship. You have to get to the heart of their situation as soon as possible. That’s when I recommend skipping right to discover. Once the matter is solved to your clients satisfaction, you can then go back and take more time to get to know. You will have more time to build a long-lasting and trusted relationship. The added benefit when this situation occurs is that you have already demonstrated your ability to them.