Last Friday I wrote: Let’s Find Ways to Change the World One Person at a Time. The idea was to do something kind each day for someone who could never return the favor. Wouldn’t the same idea apply to client development? Do something for a client or potential client without expecting anything in return.

A lawyer I coach thought she had been hired to handle a hearing before an federal agency for whom she previously worked. She knows the legal issues that come before this agency. She knows how best to present a case before this agency. Yet, the potential client has now shared with her that the company may handle the matter with their in-house lawyer who has never appeared before the agency. Her question to me:

What could I do to close the sale?

I never liked that phrase in the legal profession, but I understood her question and her frustration. She is the RIGHT lawyer for this client and this hearing. How can she convince the potential client? I told her to prepare a checklist on how to successfully present a case to the agency and then give it to the company. While she is at it, she could make it look nice and link to it on LinkedIn and Twitter and on group pages for the industry on LinkedIn.

I always used this approach with a potential client who was uncertain whether they wanted to hired me. More often than not, I was hired. If I was not hired, I thought the client might not be a good one for me or my firm. As an example, if a potential client was considering hiring me to help with a design-build contract, I shared my guidebook with the client.

Recently I read a blog by Andy Sernovitz: How to impress a prospect who isn’t quite ready to buy. He began with:

An important sales lesson: Sometimes the best way to make a sale is to stop selling and do something selfless.

Then he told a great short story about a fitness trainer he was considering hiring. He decided he wasn’t ready because he was traveling. Instead of trying to “close the sale,” she simply sent him a hotel workout plan. If you travel as often as I do, I think you will find it helpful. I am willing to bet Andy hires her. I suspect several friends and contacts in his home town will also hire her based on his recommendation and this story.