When I was a practice group leader, I offered to put our associates in our clients’ offices or even out on a large construction project so they would learn about the client from the inside. Every time I did that our associates came back with a new understanding of our clients. (They also usually brought back a new client matter.)
I was reminded of that recently when I was looking over something Lene’ Alley DeRudder had written for me. Lene’ finished law school in December 2009. Before she started her own law firm she was hanging out and helping me. I convinced her to start a blog for law students and young lawyers which she calls Lawyers in Training. She hasn’t been posting much recently because she just had a baby.
Between college and law school Lene’ worked in television marketing. Here is what she wrote about an experience persuading a car dealer to place advertisements on the station:
During a meeting with the General Manager of one of the dealerships, I proposed he allow me to work at the dealership for a day. He half-heartedly agreed, admitting later he thought I was just being a “salesperson” and would not follow through. Not only did I follow through, I also sold a car within the first hour. That one car dramatically changed my relationship with the client. From that point on the client would frequently solicit my opinion on their general advertising plans; I became a trusted source for their advertising needs not just another Account Executive. I became their “go to” person.
Lene’ became a “go to” person for the car dealership because she demonstrated she understood her client’s business. Spending that time in your client’s business is an invaluable way to build your relationship as a trusted advisor.