Yesterday we did a Webinar for the lawyers I am coaching titled: “Voice of the Client.” The presenters were Charlie Miller, a transactional lawyer and deputy managing partner with Patton Boggs and Ronna Cross, a former practicing lawyer who is the Business Development Director with Patton Boggs. Charlie and Ronna are great friends of mine and I always feel like I learn something new from them when we are together. Yesterday was no exception. Here is a short summary of what they covered yesterday.
How to talk to existing or prospective clients?
1. Listening is much more effective than talking! Mouth Closed and Ears Open. The rule of thumb should be that you do 20% of the talking (and only when prompted) and 80% of the listening.
2. Your experience and expertise are not sustainable topics of conversation (or for that matter interesting).
3. The best topics for discussion are based on the strategic, operational and economic issues that your client’s or prospect’s team regularly discuss. This is where research and reading business publications pays off.
4. Here are the most common topics:
– Capital: funding for on-going operations, acquisitions & growth (this is particularly relevant given the current “credit crisis”).
– Products/Services: the what, when, where and how of commerce (customers, vendors, markets, distributors, intermediaries, etc.).
– Competition: differentiation, positioning and good ol’ gossip about them.
– Distribution: go-to-market-strategies and -schemes (direct, independent distributors, franchising, licensing, retail, wholesale and internet strategies).
– Talent: Recruitment, Training and Retention.
– External Relationships: “The intersection of business and government.”
5. Current Business, Political and Sports Topics for filler or as a warm-up. But these are not sustainable subjects either. And Political topics can be dangerous. Keep your comments in the middle of the aisle.
6. Don’t talk about specific transactions or adversary matters involving other clients. Clients and prospective clients will perceive that you are not a trusted confidante. In other words, if you are telling them inside or confidential information about other clients, they will assume you will tell other clients inside or confidential information about them.
Charlie told those on the webinar that he has a periodical reading list. It is specifically aimed at transactional lawyers but I think litigators would find it valuable also. If you are interested in getting a copy send Joyce an email