Referrals: The Sales Investigation Meeting

Your friend, Janice Brown, introduced you to a colleague, Jack, whom she believed to have a legal issue you could help with. Beforehand, you discussed with Janice whether she thought he would welcome the contact and how he might benefit from a meeting with you, let alone any ultimate legal advice — in this way identifying the problem Jack would acknowledge having and a foundation of your initial conversation with him. The introductory phone call to Jack went well, narrowing the focus on his current problem, and you agreed to meet to discuss it in depth. Here's what to do next.

When You’re Offered a Referral

Successful lawyers have many contacts willing to introduce them to prospects or others who can help them. Too many introductions are squandered because the lawyer being offered the introduction doesn’t manage the proffer properly. The result is a pleasant but vacuous meeting with no logical basis for continuity, where nothing gets accomplished, all at the cost of creating two new debts. Here's a better way.

How to Stimulate Referrals from Every Matter

Referrals are the Holy Grail of the legal services world. What could be better than having someone endorse you and encourage a potential client to contact you? Yet when it comes to how to stimulate referrals — or even how to make one yourself — there must be a fair amount of confusion. Otherwise, why would it be one of the most frequently appearing topics, not only in legal business development channels, but all business channels? Here's a better way.

The anatomy of a sales email

When lawyers send email to a contact whom they consider a candidate to give them business, most write a few paragraphs extolling their firm’s or their expertise and experience, or their cost-saving scheme, or some solution they believe will persuasively cause the recipient to want that. Ironically, this approach causes the lack of progress that lawyers call me to coach them to overcome. Here's a better approach.

Relationships 3.0: The "Idea Relationship" era

Despite widespread recognition that the legal service business is undergoing the greatest change in its history, one that requires lawyers and those who support them to rethink literally every aspect of strategy, operations, finance, and roles, the industry still clings to an outdated definition of relationships that doesn’t map to today’s reality. This includes our worldview of relationships. It’s time for us to invest in “idea relationships” and rethink our personal and professional ones.

Are You an Entrepreneur?

Is the expression “entrepreneurial lawyer” an oxymoron? As lawyers are fond of saying, “It depends.” Take this quiz to assess yourself.

Advice to new associates on becoming a rainmaker

As Lao Tzu, the Daoist philosopher, said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The problem with becoming a rainmaker is that we don’t know if the journey is 1000 miles, 100 miles, or more, or less. It turns out that nobody knows how long it takes law firm associates to develop business development skills. That means you should begin now. Here's how to take your first steps.

Autonomy or dependence?

A lawyer who gains mastery over the practice of law isn’t necessarily guaranteed great success as a lawyer. Indeed, it depends what “success” means in this context. For many, success is measured by compensation, autonomy, professional freedom. As skilled as you may be as a lawyer, if you don’t generate significant amounts of business for yourself and other lawyers in your firm, then your earning potential is capped. You have a choice to make.

The 3 elements of an effective “Door-Opener”

Your Door-Opener is the business issue you’re associating with to demonstrate your relevance, attract market attention, and earn access to buyers. It opens doors to conversations about that problem. Make sure it has these three elements

When planning a sale, think of your colleagues as products

You have a call scheduled with a prospect, and you think it looks like a pretty good opportunity for a sale. You’re trying to decide how many, and which, of their colleagues to take with them. I’d like to say, “It depends,” but most of the time, it doesn’t. The default answer is “none.” Here's why, and what to do instead.

"Delusions of adequacy"

Despite the constant drumbeat in the legal press and within law firms, emphasizing the criticality of business development now -- no longer merely as the path to success, but now for mere survival -- too high a percentage of lawyers don’t take advantage of training and coaching offered by their firms. One theory that’s making sense to me is “delusions of adequacy.”

Unbundle your definition of "BD training"

For most firms and lawyers, “BD training” is a catchall phrase that reflects a lack of awareness about learning and skill development. For reliable skill development and consistent application leading to measurable results, unbundle the learning mission into three stages: Education, Training, and Coaching.

20 traits of the 100%-capable rainmaker

What does it take to be a great rainmaker, able to generate millions of dollars in business -- each year, reliably? What’s actually involved in the rainmaking sausage? As with every great accomplishment, there’s much more than you can see.

A relationship is "lagniappe," not the biz dev purpose

Are you still investing time trying to initiate and develop personal relationships as a key element of your business development strategy? If so, you’ve got it backwards. A personal relationship should lagniappe, a bonus, to be welcomed but not a predicate to doing business.

Besides selling differently, sell something different

Generating business today requires that you abandon long-held beliefs and habits about selling, and embrace new ones that align with clients’ current expectations. Those include delivering an integrated solution to clients' problems, which means partnering with some entities that you might consider competitors.

"You need to innovate, or you will become obsolete.”

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve been exposed to the growing body of writing about innovation. First, do you read such things? Do you try to connect the dots and speculate about how breakthrough developments might impact your clients’ fortunes?

The essence of business development

Many lawyers perceive business development as complicated, sometimes overwhelming, maybe even intimidating, and as a result feel fear, anxiety, reluctance. Too often, this translates into avoidance. Let's simplify. To succeed at business development, you need only five things:

The Law Dept. is only one part of the company

During the 20-year boom market, if you had a relationship with a GC, or senior inhouse counsel, you were set, and you protected that relationship as the revenue-generating asset it reliably was. Now, though, the game has changed, and it’s time for lawyers to reconsider their loyalties.