My best clients always became my best friends and vice versa. I have vacationed with them, gone to sporting events with them, visited them, gone to their children’s weddings and done legal work for their companies. I never viewed our time spent together as marketing. Instead, it was all about relationships and being a good friend.

One of the books I recommend lawyers read is The Sales Bible by Jeffrey Gitomer. When I read it, I came to the heading: “More sales are made with friendship than salesmanship.” Gitomer says there is an old business adage: “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.” “And all things being NOT so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.”

I believe more lawyers are hired because of friendship and trusted relationships than because the lawyer has some specific legal skill. I believe that about 10% of legal work is bet the company and it goes to the lawyer or law firm perceived to be the best to handle that specific matter. I believe that about 30% of the legal work is commodity work and it goes to the lawyer or firm that is willing to do if for the lowest fee. That leaves 60% of the legal work that all things being equal or not so equal, the client would rather do business with friends.

Gitomer makes another really important point: “Competition is eliminated. Your best competitor couldn’t blast you away from a customer who is also a friend.” That second point is the one that made me think. Looking back at my career, when my clients were also my friends, they were intensely loyal clients.

How about you? Are your friends also your clients? Are your clients also your friends?