During a group telephone coaching session I was asked:
Cordell, did you solicit potential clients?
I never did that. I would have felt uncomfortable and disingenuous.
A few years ago a firm where I was coaching asked me to do a presentation. They wanted the title to be: How to Ask for Business/Making the Sale. I told them I did not believe in closing or asking for business, but they insisted that I not change the title. If you are interested here are the slides.
As you will see from the slide below. I made clear that it was not selling and closeting that would get the business. Take a look at the slides that follow to get my take on what does get the business.
A few years ago, I read Michael Port and Elizabeth Marshall’s book: The Contrarian Effect: Why It Pays (Big) to Take Typical Sales Advice and Do the Opposite. I liked it, because just as I suggested in my presentation, I did the opposite of what salesmen are advised to do. Early in the book I found these two quotes that support my thoughts on client development:
Today, customers (in our case clients) initiate the buying process, evaluate whether they want what you have to offer, and then raise their hands when they want to buy…
This means that sales professionals (in our case lawyers) must find a way to build relationships and to be there when customers (clients) are ready to buy—a totally different worldview and way of interacting with potential customers (clients).
Ok, if you agree that trying to “sell” clients won’t work, how do you find a way to build relationships? In 2015, I believe you want to be found when your potential client does a Google search on the legal topic for which they need help. So:
- Create content (articles, blog posts, presentations, Webinars, podcasts) your potential clients value.
- Use social media tools to widely distribute that content.
- DO NOT blast email client alerts. Send them individually.
What other ways can you build relationships?
- Hang out where they hang out. Join industry associations.
- Identify a potential client problem, create a solution and give it away.
- When you get a meeting with a potential client, do your homework and ask great questions.
As the Contrarian Effect authors put it:
Instead of constantly trying to close the sale, companies can adopt a valuable keep-in-touch strategy that provides timely and meaningful information designed to help their potential customers find solutions to their problems.
If you change your mindset from selling to helping, you will find other ways to reach your potential clients.
This is one of the webinar and coaching topics we have for our 2015 Group Webinar and Group Telephone Coaching Programs. The lawyers who have participated over the last several years found the sessions helpful. I am confident you will also. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating.