This week I am posting on how to make the sale and close the deal with new clients.
Recently I was asked:
What are some of the most popular client development topics lawyers you coach want to discuss?
After thinking about it, I responded that the lawyers I coach want to know ways they can attract business from friends and people they know who work with businesses which already have outside counsel.
You likely also spend time with friends who are with companies using other law firms.
How can you unseat those other law firms? You may never, but the best chance you have is to do it in very small steps.
First, you never want to say anything negative about the law firm the client is currently using. After all, the company picked that firm, so you would be seen as challenging their judgment.
I wrote a Practical Lawyer column on this topic: How Can Your Friends Become Your Clients? As you will see, I listed three potential opportunities:
- Become the Second Lawyer
- Become the Subject Matter Expert
- Add Value the Other Firm is Not Providing
When I was practicing construction law, I spoke frequently at construction contractor association events and had the chance to eat breakfast, eat lunch or drink coffee with potential clients who were not using us. While I never had this specific conversation, it might have gone like this:
Cordell: “John, how is business for your company this year?”
John: “It is so-so, the economy still has an impact on us and we would like more work.”
Cordell: ‘What kind of projects are you looking at?’
John: “Because of the economy, we are looking at more design-build and Public-Private Venture (P3) projects?
Cordell: “I am trying to understand what contractors value from their outside counsel on those projects, may I ask you a couple of questions?”
Cordell: “How many outside law firms do you use?”
John: “Two, we use one for our construction and labor and employment issues and another for our corporate and tax work.”
Cordell: “Are they small or large firms?’
John: “Our construction law firm is a smaller than our corporate firm.”
Cordell: “Does your construction law firm use create a plan at the beginning of the projects they work on for you?”
John: “No, they are not doing that.”
Cordell: (I might or might not say this depending on how well I know John.) “ We found clients like having an idea at the beginning what to expect moving forward. Is this something your company would value? ”
John: “I could see where that would be helpful.”
Cordell: “ Does your construction firm do any in-house training on design-build and P3 projects at no charge for your project teams?’
John: “No, they don’t do anything at no charge.”
Cordell: (Again I might or might not say this depending on how well I know John.) “We love to invest in our relationship with our clients. We find these workshops are very helpful to get to know the management team and to better understand what is going on with the business.”
John: “Very interesting.”
Cordell: (I know that John is expecting me to try to get him to hire us at this point, but, in my opinion that would not be a good strategy. So I might say:) “Thanks so much for the feedback. We are constantly searching for ways to better serve our clients and your thoughts are very helpful. If you think of anything else to add, I would love to hear from you.” Or, I might say: “We would love the opportunity to do an in-house workshop for you. Would you find it valuable if I send you our design-build and P3 project workshop materials?”
In my coaching program we have a session on asking for business and closing the sale. A couple of years ago I wrote a one page guide: How to Ask for Business/Close the Sale.