June 1, 2018
Fundamentals of Business Development
(A Quick Start Guide to Becoming a Rainmaker)
Liza Vasquez ICF, CMC and Jeffrey F. Silber CPA, MBA, CMC
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
Some lawyers are like Mozart and the piano when it comes to obtaining new clients. That is, Mozart did not have to take lessons because he was a musical genius and it came to him naturally. Some lawyers are natural-born Mozart’s of client development and they don’t need lessons when it comes to attracting new clients. While this talent may not be instinctive to the vast majority of lawyers, nonetheless, it can be learned.
When you buy a new piece of electronic equipment, it comes with a thick instruction manual. But it also contains a “quick start guide” to get you using this piece of equipment relatively quickly. This month, we present A Quick Start Guide to Becoming a Rainmaker to get you on the road to success.
a) It all starts with getting out of your office.1. The easiest way to begin is to visit your current clients (see Section below on how to obtain more work from your current clients) and referral sources such as accountants and bankers. Discuss with them how you can be of mutual assistance.
b) You will find prospective clients at chambers of commerce and association meetings.
c) Unless your practice area depends on referrals from other law firms which do not offer your expertise, then stay away from Bar Associations and other legal organizations. You will find only competitors there.
d) Social situations can be even better than professional organizations as places to do networking. In social situations, the people you meet are not on their guard against other professionals trying to sell them accounting services, insurance and so on. Keep in mind, your initial objective is just to make friends (See Section 2. below).
2. When Meeting New People or Potential Clients
a) Your goal is to make new friends not sell them anything. Being aggressive and trying to “sell” your services will only frighten away the potential clients because you will appear desperate
b) You are not likely to gain a client when you first meet someone new. You will need to follow-up with this person (see Section 3. below). Therefore, you will need excuses to stay in contact with them. From now on, there is no such thing as small talk for you. Ask both personal questions (to the extent you can) and business questions. This information will be gold
c) Ask questions that gets this person talking. If you let them talk long enough, they will give you an opening to say: “That’s interesting, because X is one of my areas of expertise and I think that’s an area where I can help you.” The potential client will always tell you how to sell to him or her if you let them talk. People do not want to be sold legal services. They want to be provided with information, answers and especially they want solutions.
d) If you are asked: Why is your law firm my best choice? – Turn it around on them and ask more questions about their company. Do not talk about your firm’s services until you know the needs of this potential client. Once you do, your response will be a laser-like explanation of why your firm is ideally positioned to offer them the exact kind of services they nee
2. The Follow-Up
a) As mentioned above, obtaining a new client on first meeting, is almost as rare as winning the lottery: therefore, do not expect it.
b) You must begin a long-term approach of staying in contact with everyone you meet. Remember, your goal is to expand your network of friends. You want to create and strength a Human Connection with all your new contacts.
c) You cannot compete based on your legal knowledge, track record or expertise because you have many competent competitors. Even assuming you are technically an excellent lawyer, you have lots of competition. In choosing among equally capable lawyers, clients will always choose the lawyer they like. You want to be that lawyer.
d) Use all that small talk you heard as a way of getting close to this potential client. Ask about their kids; remember their birthdays; talk about their recent or upcoming vacations; discuss what sports teams they support; find out about their husband or wife. You can certainly discuss business and the economy, but it is best to stay away from politics and religion.
e) Before you start your legal work each morning, think about what marketing and business development activity you can do that day – like making telephone calls, sending text messages or emails; think about writing an article or what subject you could discuss in a speech in front of a group of potential clients.
f) You want every person you meet to speak well about you because word-of-mouth is still the best form of marketing. Do everything you possibly can to ensure that potential clients have a good impression of you so that they will want to spread the good word about you and your work.
g) Your energy and enthusiasm will distinguish you from other lawyers.
h) Never stop following up with the people you meet unless they specifically tell you to leave them alone. Do not misinterpret their silence or lack of response to your contacts as a lack of interest.
i) Time is the fourth dimension according to Einstein and an organization or company that does not need your services today, may need you in the future. That is why you must remain “Top-Of-Mind” forever.
j) Also, even if the person and his/her organization may never need you, by staying on contact, they may refer you to their friends and colleagues.
Making time to go out and do your marketing
a) In the end, you will see that time is the only thing that has a finite limit. You will sacrifice some important things if you try to do everything. That is why you should not even attempt to do it all yourself.
b) You must delegate as much of your legal work as humanly possible. Do not do a piece of work yourself if there is another lawyer in the firm who can do it for you. And, if there is no other lawyer capable of doing it, ask yourself: Why is that the case? Then go out and hire and/or train such a lawyer.
c) Take a pledge to never complete documents yourself which a junior lawyer has begun. Keep reviewing the documents and making points so that the junior lawyer ultimately does all the work him/herself. This may take more time in the beginning than doing it yourself but ultimately you will earn back some hours in the day so that you can go out and meet new people.
- Find ways to be helpful
While you are still in the stage of building a relationship with your new contacts, find ways to be helpful. Introduce potential clients to people you know where you can see some synergy for both parties. Show them you are more than a lawyer, show them you have helpful and important contacts that come along with you when they hire you – such as sources of capital, accountants, potential customers and new products.
Current clients are your best source of new work
a) Your current clients are already giving you their legal work which means they trust you.
b) Gain their confidence even further by truly knowing and understanding their business and the industry in which they operate.
c) Be helpful with current clients as well (See Section 5. above).
d) Emphasize the human connection.
e) Of course, you are defined in the market by the quality of your legal work. Be sure your clients feel you are delivering excellent solutions and legal work.
f) You are doing it right when your clients feel the results you obtained were worth the fees they paid.
g) There is no excuse for sloppiness with client work. It’s often the little things, such as typos in a letter or a translation with obvious errors, that undermine a clients’ trust in you and may cause them to question your ability.
h) Listen to your clients. Do active listening. Do not think of your response until they have finished speaking, not They will know when you are not paying close attention to them.
i) Return clients’ text messages, emails and phone calls promptly but remember, you are not a cardiologist, and no one will die if you respond an hour later. And in most cases, nothing will happen between 8:00 pm and 8:00 am the next morning. So, there is no need to be a slave to your cellphone and text messages. You want to provide excellent service, but you are also entitled to a life of your own. Clients will respect you for it.
j) Formally or informally, request This could be over lunch with your clients or in a more formal questionnaire. Ask your clients what you can improve about your service. Then, of course, do it.
k) Make every client feel as if they are your only client.
l) Once you have done all this, your clients will expand your role in their company and you can become their Trusted Advisor not just their lawyer.
m) Then of course, they will recommend you to their friends and colleagues.