As lawyers continue to experience turbulence from the constant changes in the profession, the smart response is developing effective rainmakers out of lawyers who have no sales background.
Some law firm leaders still balk at the term "sales" as it relates to "developing business." However, progressive accept the "new normal" of attracting, winning and retaining clients by following a proven methodology of selling: understanding thoroughly the "pain points" in a prospect’s business or life and offering a way to solve them .
"It's all about me" presentation
Often in a nervous moment, they resort back to topics they know very well: themselves, their area of practice and their firm's capabilities. This "it's all about me" presentation is highly underwhelming and may lead to an early end to a meeting.
Successful selling of legal services can be very challenging, especially when most lawyers have no professional background, training or coursework to learn that it is a process. There is no "one size fits all" sales pitch for every prospect who invites you to his office.
Many lawyers need to rid themselves of the self-perception that they are "above" the selling process or that it is not in their job description. This is essential if you want to have control over your career and generate more profit from your practice.
If your practice is not developing as you would like, you should actively learn the consultative selling approach. Consider retaining a professional coach or trainer who can provide invaluable insights and proven methodologies to the sales process. However you need to learn how to sell, the teacher will appear when the student is ready.
Personality is a key factor in business development, according to a study by Dr. Larry Richard, Founder and Principal Consultant at LawyerBrain LLC. Dr. Richard finds that lawyers are very different from the general population in six of 18 traits. For example, two-thirds of lawyers are introverts, though in contrast, three-fourths of the general population in the United States are extroverts. It is fascinating to see the inherent challenges for relational sales.
If you are a lawyer in private practice and need to develop a book of business, additional developmental work may be required if you are an introvert. That said, I believe most committed lawyers can find a path to rainmaking if they understand clearly the value of doing so.
Given the personal nature of relational sales, taking the appropriate steps to engage in a sales conversation is key as a practicing lawyer. One never knows when the opportunity will arise to present solutions for others’ legal issues. And, how you position the conversation will turn on how comfortable you are having such a conversation.
3Recognize Needs Triggers
Whether you are in a meeting with a team of GCs, a roomful of board members, or just one C-suite professional looking for a solution to a pressing business problem, the most important information you need to seek is what events and circumstances create a need for your services. Looking at this equation through the lens of a prospective client, what are their “needs” triggers?
- Is there a problem that must be solved?
- Is there an opportunity that must be weighed and exploited?
- Is there an issue to be prevented?
Many legal issues revolve around these three triggers.
Asking your prospects open-ended questions to learn what needs exist will assist you in the sales process. You want to learn (so you may diagnose) as much relevant information as possible that will illuminate a prospect’s triggers for your services. Often, a prospect may have a need, though it may not a priority. So, once you identify the need you must also identify the priority level with which they are seeking to address the need.
This, too, is an art to be developed with languaging practice, actively listening, and understanding an issue through the lens of a prospect. To be successful, you must quietly remove yourself (and your needs) from the equation.
However you choose to improve your sales sensibilities, the next time you are in a "sales situation," catch yourself when you feel the temptation rising to roll off your credentials. Instead focus on nurturing the relationship, asking open-ended questions to understand your prospect's "pain points" and making the road to “yes” much easier.