I knew it while I practiced law. Now that I am recruiting every day I am reminded that law firms want partners who have already attracted clients or are have clear potential to attract clients.

So, if you are a young lawyer and you want to have a long law career in a law firm, it is never too early to work on attracting clients.

Several years ago I was a member of a LinkedIn Group on Sales. Many of the discussions on the group page had little value to lawyers. But, some I found very valuable.

One day I saw a discussion that began with this question:

What are the core competencies for a salesperson trying to sell a “concept” like training?

We could edit the question:

“What are the core competencies for a lawyer selling legal services?”

Several of the comments intrigued me because they could be applied to selling legal services. Here are a couple of them:

This is semantics but all sales involve selling an idea or a “concept” whether the item is intangible or not… So, one core competency is the ability to understand the buyer’s need/desire. Maybe this is empathy but certainly the ability to listen and to probe for meaningful insight. Another is the ability to identify how your service can fulfill that need. Competency here is the ability to see connections that are not always obvious. Finally the ability to synthesize need and ability to fulfill need into a cohesive and attractive plan that demonstrates to the buyer that his or her objectives will be met and that these objectives will have a meaningful impact on the business or enterprise.

People who sell “training” or widgets eventually fail. Only people that sell value succeed. So the question is, “What competencies does a seller need to possess in order to articulate the value that is derived from the training?” And better yet, “Can the seller link that value to the prospect’s context, business or problem and communicate it effectively enough to close the sale?”

Can you see why I believe the two comments above can be applied to selling legal services?

You are not selling litigation or transactions. You are providing a solution to a potential client’s problem, facilitating the client taking advantage of an opportunity or helping a client deal with a change they are facing.

As expressed above, the core competency is the ability to ask questions and listen, see things your client may be missing, empathize and finally articulate a solution the client finds valuable.