October 1, 2017
Ten Excuses Frequently Given for
Avoiding Your Individual Marketing (Selling)
And How to Overcome Them
By Jeffrey F. Silber and Liza Vasquez
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
This is the first of a three-part series on the excuses that lawyers at every level, from interns to partners, give themselves for not meeting their obligations to themselves and their law firm for not doing their individual marketing. It is this individual marketing that will lead to obtaining more clients. Here, we have complied the top excuses we have heard over the years and how to overcome them. After all, they are exactly that, only excuses not explanations.
You will receive the second and third parts of this series of articles on November 1st and December 1st, 2017. Please look for them in your inbox.
1. Indifference to Marketing – “I don’t think selling is important.”
The long-term success of every professional depends on the ability to control his/her flow of new clients. The members of a law firms who have the most influence and who make the most money are those who determine the income of the firm by maintaining the loyalty of current clients and by bringing new clients to the firm. Without bringing in new business, as a lawyer, you will be relegated to being a Services Partner – and that is if you are lucky enough to become a partner at all. That is a second-tier position, as a technical lawyer, with limited income potential and generally much lower influence in taking firm decisions. And, if you are a senior associate, you may not be fortunate enough to become even a Service Partner unless you bring new clients to the firm. Your future will depend on doing your individual marketing (selling).
- Lack of Time – “I am too busy to market my services.”
You would find time to complete work for your clients no matter how busy you are. Marketing your services is an essential and required part of your responsibilities which cannot be ignored. The way to create more time is by reorganizing your workload and delegate more tasks. Ask yourself, Am I the only one in the law firm who can do this piece of work? If the answer is Yes, then you must certainly train your subordinates to do those tasks that take up so much of your time. You must work smarter – not harder – to be successful. But let us point out that there may be a more important fundamental issue: you may be using a lack of time as an excuse to hide from your underlying discomfort with selling.
- Cultural Stereotypes About Selling – “I think selling is sleazy (indecente, antiético, 不雅，不道).”
People often have the stereotype image of salespeople as being pushy, manipulative and insincere. You will not be that kind of person. No one will hire you if they have no need of your services. Therefore, no pressure tactics will work. First be friendly and the work will follow. Instead of being pushy, you will be friendly, helpful and sincere. Keep in mind that you will be offering high quality legal services for a fair price to people who need your services – not pushing your services on people who have no need. Everyone wins. As you will see later, you should believe in your abilities and the quality of your work and you should be a lawyer who cares about your clients. Merely telling the truth without high pressure tactics will eliminate your view that sales is sleazy.
- The Risk of Rejection – “I am afraid of being turned down.”
You can only be rejected if you are asking for something. Therefore, you do not have to worry about rejection because you are not going to ask for anything. Once they know you, they will come to you when they need you. There are four reasons why a potential customer does not buy any product or service. No need, no money, no hurry or no credibility. Selling is a process. Look at the list. You may be an excellent lawyer but if the potential client has no need of your services, you will not be hired. No one is rejecting you. They simply have no need. Clients enjoy working with lawyers they like and in the long-term, there is a human connection involved in hiring a lawyer. But a client’s need or lack of need for your services comes first: Nothing personal, just business – they will come to you when they need you.
- The Risk of Failure – “Selling has never worked for me.”
Start with the idea that you are not going to sell. You are just going to let the world know who you are and what you do. As mentioned, you are going to be friendly and helpful. Persistence is important – but only in the sense of continuous follow-up with the people you meet. You must realize that no one has a 100% success rate in “selling” to new clients. The best baseball players do not reach first base more than two-thirds of the time. In soccer, the three best players in the world on average score only 19 times out of one-hundred kicks on goal. You see, the best players fail 81% of the time Do not let your fear of failure stop you from finding ideas that could work well for you. Especially keep in mind that at no moment are you risking failing in your activities – you are just going to meet people. There is really no risk involved.
- The belief you are too old to learn new skills – “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
If you are motivated and intelligent, you can learn to be a successful rainmaker at any age.
- The belief you are starting too late – “I am embarrassed to start marketing my service this late in my career.”
It is not necessary to view your Individual Marketing as a dramatic change in your professional life. You are not going to change the basic person that you are. Most likely, you already have the skills you need and you have probably been selling your services for years and didn’t realize it. Often older lawyers have a gravitas because of their years of practicing that makes them highly effective rainmakers due to their unquestionable credibility. There is nothing embarrassing about getting out and meeting new people. From point 4 above, you are not going to ask for anything. NO one is going to even notice that you are marketing your services.
- The misconception that selling must be abusive – “I don’t want to be seen as a pest (una molestia, 烦人 um incômodo,)”
Being friendly and helpful cannot be considered as being a pest. Also, the idea behind this concept is that you do not believe in the value proposition you are offering. There is no such thing as a pressure sale when it comes to professional services. You cannot talk a client into hiring you if they have no legal matters. You will be hired only when they need you. If you have pride and confidence in your legal work and you know your fees are fair, you can never be a pest. Of course, you need to let the world know you exist and what solutions you bring to your clients, after that, they will seek you out when they need you. You cannot do more than that and therefore you can never be a pest.
- The belief that you must copy other people’s sales style – “I don’t like asking for business.”
There is no one way for being friendly. You do not have to copy anyone else’s marketing style. You do not have to be bold and outspoken. There are 101 ways to be an effective rainmaker without changing your personality to be someone who you are not. Friendly and helpful are the best sales tools.
- The belief that asking for business is unethical – “My profession has rules that restrict selling.”
Don’t ask for their business, let them come to you. As long as you are honest and accurate about your work and what you can do on behalf of clients, there is nothing unethical about marketing your services that violates the code of ethics in your jurisdiction. There is nothing unethical about writing articles, giving seminars or doing public speaking. There is nothing unethical about widening your circle of acquaintances and friends. You will find what marketing tools work best for you and what is most comfortable for you.
Keep an eye on November 1st for the second article in this series.
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