I am looking forward to making a presentation for a law firm today:

Building Your Client Development Tool Kit:
 The nuts and bolts of business development

When I was working on this presentation, I was searching for something and came across a couple of articles on shaving I immediately saw a connection between shaving tools and client development tools.

Here is the connection:

  • The principles of shaving have always been the same. But, the tools we use for shaving have dramatically changed.
  • The principles of client development have always been the same. But, the tools we use to implement those principles have dramatically changed.

And, here is the most important connection:

  • In both shaving and client development, the new tools are really great, especially when you do not have much time. But, to get a better shave, or to build a better and deeper relationship with potential clients, use the old tools.

I suspect I have been shaving for over 50 years. I can remember traveling along the highway and reading the Burma Shave signs.

Later, I remember when Edge Shaving Gel was introduced in 1970. Next, disposable razors were introduced followed by multi-blade razors. That all prompted the New York Times article: Shaving With Five Blades When Maybe Two Will Do.

Recently I saw an article: How to get that perfect shave  from the Today Show Weekend Edition. Here is the essence of the article:

Now that men of all ages are paying more attention to their appearance, it’s no wonder that the hottest trend right now in male grooming is a return to the traditional wet shave – and millions of men have been shocked to discover that the “old fashioned” method of shaving they thought went out with the Hula Hoop is actually the best quality shave you can get.

After reading the Today show article, I ordered two of the recommended shaving creams. Over the years I have become a huge fan of Taylor of Old Bond Street.

So, what would I say about client development? Maybe something like this:

In 2017, lawyers are paying more attention to client development than ever before. The new tools, like blogging and social media, enable lawyers to more easily become visible and credible to potential clients. As a result, they are the hottest trends in client development right now. But, to build long-lasting, trust-based relationships with clients, potential clients and referral sources, use the old tools that some thought went out with hand-written notes.

Out of curiosity, how are your lawyers doing with the new client development tools? The old ones? Do they need an update?

Years ago I read The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert F. Galford. It was one of the first books I had read that I felt really applied to lawyers.

I was so impressed that we formed a group of lawyers at my old firm who read the book together and met monthly to share ideas.  We actually captured our main takeaways in two PowerPoint presentations and shared those with other lawyers in the firm.

The Trusted Advisor

Let me share one example I found helpful:

In The Trusted Advisor the authors made a point that technical skills are not enough. You have to see the world from your clients point of view.

They quote Stephanie Wethered, an Episcopal priest who describes our ability to emphatically listen as being in direct relation to how closely we can feel what the other person feels. The authors then list 23 things that good listeners do. According to Maister, Green and Galford, they:

  1. Probe for clarification
  2. Listen for unvoiced emotions
  3. Listen for the story
  4. Summarize well
  5. Empathize
  6. Listen for what’s different, not for what’s familiar
  7. Take it all seriously (they don’t say, “You shouldn’t worry about that”)
  8. Spot hidden assumptions
  9. Let the client “get it out of his or her system”
  10. Ask “How do you feel about that?”
  11. Keep the client talking (“What else have you considered?”)
  12. Keep asking for more detail that helps them understand
  13. Get rid of distractions while listening
  14. Focus on hearing your version first
  15. Let you tell your story your way
  16. Stand in your shoes, at least while they’re listening
  17. Ask you how you think they might be of help
  18. Ask what you’ve thought of before telling you what they’ve thought of
  19. Look at (not stare at) the client as he or she speaks
  20. Look for congruity (or incongruity) between what the client says and how he or she gestures and postures
  21. Make it seem as if the client is the only thing that matters and that they have all the time in the world
  22. Encourage by nodding head or giving slight smile
  23. Are aware of and control their body movements (no moving around, shaking legs, fiddling with a paper clip)

These are great tips and just one reason The Trusted Advisor is well worth reading, and sharing ideas.

Recently I wrote Client Development Coaching: You will learn what will work for you. A lawyer I coach read the post and asked me for examples she might borrow to find her own best approach.

I am an example of a lawyer who narrowed my focus to an industry. Seth Godin blogged about narrowing focus marketing approach in Un essaim de puces.

As you know, I began my client development efforts as a commercial litigator. I struggled to figure out how I could market myself. I was flailing away marketing to everyone. Unfortunately for me, there were several older and better known commercial litigators in my home town.

I changed my focus and narrowed my target market to highway and transportation construction contractors. It was by far the most important decision I made in my career. I actually widened my practice, to include contracts and every day advice. I narrowed my client base so I could be more valuable as a trusted advisor.

So, if you are marketing to everyone and not finding any success, you can narrow your focus to a smaller group, find a niche practice, or continue marketing to a wider audience. Whatever approach, use the tools, like blogging to widen your visibility.

 

A few years ago I gave a presentation to the Legal Marketing Association Southwest Chapter meeting in Phoenix. My topic was: Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers: Create Your Own Client Development Coaching Program.

I shared my ideas on these topics with the audience:

  • How to convince skeptical partners to train and develop the next generation
  • Why client development coaching
  • How to structure a successful program

I coach many different lawyers. Each lawyer is unique with different talents, passions and challenges. One of the most important things I can do as a coach is help each lawyer find what will work most effectively for him or her.

Many lawyers I coach come into the coaching with pre-conceived stereotypes of rainmakers and fear they cannot be successful because they are not like that stereotype. My job is to help those lawyers see their own path to success. Taking StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a great help.

Andrea Anderson, a Holland & Hart partner shared that her greatest take away from coaching was developing self confidence that she could be successful using her own unique strengths, Take a listen in this short podcast excerpt.

Anderson Andrea.jpgAndrea Anderson Podcast

Andrea made clear that you can become successful discovering and then focusing on your strengths. She did it and so can you.

On Tuesday I gave you the five questions to ask yourself if you are blogging and it hasn’t led to business. After you have answered the first five, you will be ready to answer these:

  1. Blogging Questions.jpgHow should you write your post? Your headline is the starting point. Each time you draft one assume that is all your potential reader will see before deciding to read any further. Do not bury the lead. The first sentence and first paragraph are essential. Once again you must answer your potential readers question: “Why should I read this?”
  2. How long should your post be? I believe it should be no longer than 250-400 words. If you need to write in greater detail, link to a more detailed document.
  3. What should your style be like? Your paragraphs should be short. Consider posting with a list. I know contractors all like check-lists and I believe other businesses do as well. Make your post conversational as if you were having coffee with the reader. Consider telling a story. I like to add an image to break up the text and make it easier to read.
  4. What links should you include in your post? As lawyers we like to prove a point. Our clients like support for a point as well. You can find the support in the news, cases or other supporting documents.
  5. What you should do to get your blog to more potential readers? When you begin blogging, send the first posts to your existing clients and referral sources. Also talk about your blog with your partners and colleagues who have clients who might be interested. If I was still practicing law I would send my blog to each construction association executive I knew personally and ask them to let their members know about the blog. Hopefully you are on LinkedIn and have linked to as many clients, referral sources and those who influence your clients. Post the link to your blog on your LinkedIn page. Post the link with a description on Twitter. Post the link to groups on LinkedIn. I read this great quote on Twitter last Saturday: “If I can’t comment, click a retweet button, or “Like” your blog, it’s called an article.”
  6. Are you building trust relationships through your blog?  Client development is all about building trust based relationships with potential clients. I define that type of relationship from the client’s perspective: He or she is asking: “Can I trust this lawyer to handle my matter?”  “What will it be like to work with this lawyer?” Your blog is your opportunity to demonstrate expertise and show potential clients a personal side of you.

I coach many lawyers who are blogging and I read blogs posted by many other lawyers. I can usually get a sense whether the lawyer blogger is achieving any success from blogging. If you are blogging and it hasn’t led to business, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Blogging Questions.jpgWho is your ideal reader? The first giveaway for me that a blog is not likely attracting business is when I can’t figure out who the blogger is targeting.  If I was still practicing construction law, my ideal reader would begin with the executives of the many state and national construction associations. My second ideal reader would be contractors and in-house lawyers of the large contractors who have them.
  2. What do you want your ideal reader to do? Even though it occasionally happens, I think it is very unrealistic to think you will get a new client just because of your blog. If I was still practicing construction law, I would want my ideal reader to recommend me to others and include with his recommendation the link to my blog. I also would use my blog as the primary tool to get asked to speak at contractor association meetings.
  3. How can you attract your ideal reader? If your ideal reader is not reading your blog, you won’t achieve your goals. The first step to attract your ideal reader is to create valuable content that addresses a need.
  4. How do you find valuable content? You have to be insatiable to look for and find information that impacts your potential clients. You should be reading a variety of industry publications and other business publications. If I was practicing construction law I would be using the ENR feed, Feedly and Netvibes to find ideas.
  5. How do you know when you have found valuable content? Each article you read you have to look for the legal implications or even the business implications of the facts in the article. You have to see what others are missing.

In my Thursday post, I will share with you the questions to ask after you have answered these.

What are you doing to make a presentation that will give you the best chance to be hired? Here’s one key: Give the audience something you know they will find valuable.

As you might imagine, over the years I have given many presentations at ABA, State Bar, City and County Bar meetings. My presentations have ranged from career development to client development to leadership.

If I have made a presentation for your group, you know I ask for young (and sometimes experienced) lawyers to let me know the 1-3 things they want to make sure I cover, or 1-3 questions they might have. I personally respond to each email I receive.

A few years ago a young lawyer attending a Bar meeting said:

He was working the room before the room was assembled! Not bad…

I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but he was correct.  I always approached my presentations to construction  associations the same way.

I frequently asked the construction association executive to let members know that I wanted to hear from them with questions or topics they wanted to make sure I answered or covered in the presentation. Then, I made sure and include the subjects or questions. I confess that I never received a question or topic that I was not planning on covering.

Why is working the room this way important and why should you do it for your presentations? It’s pretty simple: You will address what the audience is seeking to learn.

Out of curiosity, how are you preparing for your presentations? Are you getting feedback? Is someone looking at your slides and discussing the number of words you have placed on slides?

 

 

I’ve coached well over 1000 lawyers since I left my law firm and started coaching in other firms in 2005. I believe most, if not all the lawyers I have coached would like to attract, retain and expand relationships with clients.

Why are some of the lawyers I’ve coached successful and others are not? Many who do not succeed are really only saying they wish they could attract more clients.

Those who succeed do it a variety of ways. In some cases there’s luck of being in right place at the right time. In some cases there is luck of being born in the right family, marrying into the right family or having a friend who created a billion dollar company.

But, for most of lawyers I have coached who attracted major clients, they did it the old fashioned way.

They were motivated and worked hard, like an athlete training each and every day, and not seeing immediate results.

Fitness woman

 

I read an interesting Psychology Today article titled: Don’t Let Your Thinking Sabotage Your Goals, written by David Ludden, Ph.D. Please take a look because the writer treats the motivation to lose weight as I just explained above about the motivation to attract clients. Then, Ludden writes:

According to University of Chicago psychologist Oleg Urminsky, a sense of connectedness to the future self is essential for achieving long-term goals. (My emphasis)…

Urminsky considers his idea of connectedness to the future within the larger context of a well-documented phenomenon in behavioral economics known as time discounting. This occurs when people discount the value of a resource when there’s a delay in receiving it. For instance, if I offer you $120 now or $180 a year from now, you’ll most likely take the smaller-but-sooner option over the larger-but-later one.

Therein lies the problem, client development and attracting clients is a long term process. It requires lots of hard work for which there is no pay, and no immediate benefit. I know it took me two years of work, work, work before the first construction client called me.

I’ll leave you with one final example. I coached a lawyer 10 years ago. When I began coaching her, she had a very small amount of business in her column.

Recently she wrote to me and told me that a few years ago, she had set a goal of originating $3 million by the time she was a certain age. She told me she had reached and even exceeded her goal in 2016.

How did she achieve this awesome goal? Just as the motivation article suggests, she saw herself as a $3 million originator by a certain age, then she broke it down into smaller chunks and worked each year to get closer and closer to her long term goal.

 

If I have coached you, or you are a regular reader, you know I owe a great deal of my client development success to my writing. It worked well for me and I am confident if you follow my thoughts below it will work well for you also.

Writing articles and blogs is a great way to raise your visibility and credibility with your potential clients. If you are planning to use this tool, keep these three essential points in mind:

  1. Select a topic that your clients and potential clients care about. (I spent more time selecting a topic than I spent writing the article.)
  2. Write it so they will actually read what you have written. (I spent more time deciding on the title and writing the first paragraph than I spent writing the rest of the article)
  3. Use social media as one tool to get as wide a distribution as possible. (I didn’t have this tool for distribution, but you do have it. Use it)

It is that simple, yet many, if not most, lawyers do not do all three well.

They spend little time thinking of the topic. Then they decide on a lame title that does not capture the reader’s attention. If you would like to learn more about writing and speaking to get hired, check out my  video program and workbook.

P.S. I want you to try these three points. Help me write a blog post for lawyer readers. Pick a topic for a future blog post, then create a title you think would attract lawyer reader. If you have the time, write the first paragraph for me. If I select your topic, title and first paragraph, you can have access to my Video Coaching Program and Workbook.

 

Client development is all about being found when a client needs a lawyer and all about building trust based relationships.

If you want to start building a reputation and building relationships with clients focus on five important points. I know, I’ve made all of these points many times over the last 11 years. But, maybe I have not made them this succinctly.Man with beard in suit

  1. Client development is not about “selling.” It’s all about positioning yourself to be found when your clients need a lawyer, and then providing exceptional service.
  2. You will not develop client relationships merely by being a highly skilled lawyer and doing quality work. It is a necessity but only a starting point. Being a highly skilled lawyer is merely the price you pay to get in the game.
  3. Client development is not about what you do, it’s about what your clients need. Find ways to learn what they need and put the work you do in that context.
  4. Strive to differentiate yourself from your competitors. One way is to anticipate a potential problem or opportunity before other lawyers see it.
  5. Better yet, identify and provide solutions to problems before the client realizes there is a problem. That will do more to build a lasting relationship than almost anything you can do.