How do you track the results you get from your business development efforts? I recently spoke with a potential client and asked that question. Her response? ”I don’t need to track my results. I know what’s working.” She had a $25,000 book of business, and based on our conversation, I suspect she could triple that relatively quickly just by getting clear on what was and wasn’t working in her rainmaking.
When you’re working on legal business development, having some sense of which activities are profitable is extremely important as you determine whether to discontinue or to increase your involvement with that activity. Unfortunately, an informal, memory-based, qualitative system for tracking results is not sufficient. Memories fade and may be inaccurate. Just as mental tracking is unreliable for balancing a checkbook, it is insufficient for making decisions about business development activity.
Every lawyer should have a client intake routine that includes determining how that client became aware of you and your practice. Consider incorporating into your client intake form a question that asks, “How did you find out about me/this firm?”
Warning: Being a fungible billing unit is bad for growing your law practice!
I’ve written previously on finding your Unique Service Proposition, which distinguishes you from other lawyers (and non-lawyers) serving your ideal clients’ legal needs. In that article, I noted that if you are one of a pool of fungible practitioners, you’ll be forced to rely on other ways of distinguishing your practice–including, perhaps, competing on price.
In today’s cost-conscious environment, many lawyers feel that they must compete on price. (Note that this issue applies to all lawyers, regardless of the size of firm or sophistication of practice.) No savvy client will pay an undeserved premium, and clients seem to hold the advantage in hiring lawyers these days. But competing on price is not the only option. Continue Reading
Newsletters offer a way to stay in contact with a large number of contacts easily, consistently, and productively. Newsletters focus on substantive information, and assuming you’ve defined your areas of practice carefully enough, your content will be valuable to recipients and therefore welcome. Better yet, if your topics are timely and if you include an appropriate call to action, you may even receive requests for assistance on matters related to your writing.
Most firms have multiple newsletters tailored to their various areas of practice, often with multiple contributors. Whether you’re responsible for coordinating the content for your firm’s (or team’s) newsletter or you’re a sole practitioner with soup-to-nuts responsibility for the newsletter, you’ve probably had more than a few hair-raising moments wondering how you can possibly get it all done. (And if your firm doesn’t have a newsletter, I can virtually guarantee that fear is the top reason why not.)
So, let’s make newsletters simple. These five tips and resources will reduce the time and angst required to produce a newsletter that delivers results. Continue Reading
This month, I’ve selected quotes from some terrific blog posts about relationship. Read the quotes, and then go check out these posts. They’re too good to miss.
We all like people who like us. If I show you I’m genuinely happy to meet you, you’ll instantly start to like me. (And you’ll show that you do, which will help calm my nerves and let me be myself.)
~Jeff Haden, 6 Habits of Remarkably Likable People Continue Reading
One of the primary objections lawyers have to business development is that business development equals sales, and “sales” is a four-letter word. (Sometimes the stereotype of math-challenged lawyers does stick!) The word may conjure the stereotpyical used car salesman, ready to unload a lemon just to make a quick buck. And, of course, no one wants to be a part of that kind of sale–to sell or to buy.
A sale, however, only refers to the exchange of money for a good or service. There’s nothing unprofessional or sleazy about that. The distate we feel for sales comes from how the sale is made, not from the fact of the sale itself.
If ethically questionable business development tactics are repellant to you, you will likely take great care to avoid engaging in them. Be certain by reading your jurisdiction’s ethics rules, and make a note to reread them at least annually since rules and commentary may change. In most cases, you wil find the rules broad enough to encompass any type of activity you might choose to do. If you have any question, you’ll need to find answers before you proceed, since this is not the place to hope or assume something is acceptable. Most of the time, within a few well-understood rules, you won’t even wonder. Continue Reading
My clients often tell me that they don’t need to track rainmaking results, that they just know what’s working and what isn’t. Keeping records may seem inconvenient and unnecessary. In reality, though, simple tracking will help you to get better results in business development.
If you’re getting new business, you know something is working, but you may not know what. If you don’t track your rainmaking activity and results, you risk three problems:
- You may find it difficult to make a rational decision about whether to continue an activity. Without data on whether a particular effort is paying off, how can you know whether your investment is worthwhile? Continue Reading
A few years ago, I had to drive to an important business meeting in an unfamiliar city. Because this was before I had GPS, I printed out directions before leaving my office, so I had a good idea of where I was going. The sun was beaming down and my “pump me up” playlist was blaring, and I was feeling really good.
But then I hit an unanticipated obstacle: a road closed due to construction. I didn’t know the area and the detour wasn’t well-marked. Before long, I had no idea how to get from here to there. I knew which roads I needed to find, but looking at the map was useless because I didn’t know where I was. So frustrating!
When I talk with lawyers about business development, this story feels all too familiar. So often, lawyers have a sense of what they’d like to accomplish (the destination) and even how to get there (the directions), but after hitting an obstacle–sometimes even despite a lack of obstacles–what had seemed clear seems confusing.
If you want to succeed in business development, you must:
- Know where you’re starting. One of my favorite cautions is, “Don’t mistake luck for skill.” If you’ve had success in landing clients, make sure you know why and how to replicate that. If it’s sheer luck, you have to find a way to shift that luck into something you can repeat and transform into skill. What’s going well? What’s broken? What questions do you have, and what resources do you need?I created the Law Practice Profitability Audit to simplify this step. Take the Audit here. Continue Reading
I recently spent nearly two hours sitting at an airport gate, sitting about 5 feet behind a stand with Delta American Express card representatives. You’ve probably seen these stands: a table to the side of a concourse, with various promotional freebies, application forms neatly stacked, and one or two hawkers, trying desperately to get people to pause and fill out an application.
Annoying, right? I drowned out the hawker’s calls. But as I sat reading, I noticed that more people than usual were coming up to this table, and they were staying longer than usual to talk with the card rep. So I started listening. And I re-learned something useful.
The average hawker bombards passersby with the “great offer” they simply “can’t pass up”. But this rep focused on individuals and engaged them: ”You, miss, in the red shirt! Where are you headed today?”
Some people ignored him, but over and over, people paused, walked to the stand, and talked with the rep. Some told him about their travel delays. Others told him about the jobs they were traveling for or the family they were leaving behind. Several soldiers told him what it’s like to be on leave from duty in the Middle East. And the marketer listened. He asked questions and empathized. He was genuinely present with the people who were talking with him. Continue Reading
The statement “I’ve got your back” is one of the most powerful business development messages there is. When you have someone capable and attentive on your side to offer assistance and cheer you on, you’re likely to be more willing to undertake new, difficult, or risky-feeling activity.
Consider this: a child learning to walk or to ride a bicycle will often look to a parent to be sure that someone is there to encourage them if they waiver. We applaud speakers and those receiving awards as a way of saying, “Good job!” And we’ve probably all called a friend for support after being rejected by a potential client or date, or a job opportunity. Just about everybody appreciates encouragement and support.
There’s another side to “I’ve got your back”, too: someone capable who’s in the trenches with you, ready to help. And that’s where “I’ve got your back” goes from a source of feel good emotional support to a do-good, hands-on promise. That’s also where it becomes a powerful business development message.
I keep up with dozens of blogs (legal and otherwise) on a regular basis, and I like to bring the best of the best to you periodically. Without further ado, here are the top five posts that I’ve read in the last few weeks.
- Why Being Told “No” is Actually the Greatest Motivator (Peter Shankman) Shankman founded Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which I’ve highlighted in the past, and I enjoy his block for its insights into non-legal marketing. He’s also a good storyteller as you’ll see in his post, which starts with an ode to the excesses of Dubai. The post ends with ways to use a “no” answer to help you move forward. (Think in the context, of course, of business development.) While I don’t agree 100% with his perspective (sometimes a “yes” is not available at a particular time), his advice overall is spot on. Read this especially if you find yourself frustrated by near-misses with new business. Continue Reading