December 1, 2017
Ten More 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 third part of a three-part series of articles on the excuses that lawyers at every level, from interns to partners, frequently give themselves for not meeting their obligations to themselves and their law firm for 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, excuses not explanations.
Parts 1 and 2 were sent to you on October 1st and November 1st, 2017. If you missed them, you can find them in the Blog section of our website (www.svacoaches.com).
- The risk of being superficial – “I don’t like making small talk.”
During the course of your legal, you often have to do things or perform tasks that you do not love. But you do it because it is part of the job. So-called small talk serves an important function for you as you go about your individual marketing. By engaging in small talk, especially by asking questions, you gain the vital information you need to follow-up with this prospective client. Ask lots of questions! Imagine you are an investigator gathering information. If you do not have lots of bits and pieces of information about this person, you will have no excuses or reasons to contact this person again in the future. That is why each thing you learn about this person is a piece of gold as far as you are concerned because it represents a reason to contact him or her again. In the selling of professional services, there is a rule of thumb that on average it takes six moments of contact with the potential client to close the sale. This small talk will provide the content for your six future interactions. That is why you need this information to be the excuses to maintain contact. Find reasons, personal reasons or business reasons, but find reasons to maintain contact with this person. Remember, you want them to think of you when it is time for them to hire a lawyer and this is how they will remember you.
It is not small talk. It is essential information that you will be gathering.
- The obstacle of Reciprocation – “I don’t have enough business to refer to everyone I know.”
The most productive relationships are where you and another professional contact can serve referral sources for each other. It would be ideal if could have a steady interchange of potential clients. The problem is, for example, that you will not likely not have enough tax work to refer to ten different accountants, all of whom you hope will refer clients to you. You must continue to maintain a human relationship with all these people.
Even if you have no referrals to send to them, have coffee or lunch with them from time to time. At least call them every few months and say “Hey, Cynthia, no one has asked me to recommend an accountant lately. But I don’t want you to think I have forgotten you. I have your card right here in front of me and I see it every day. So, I’ll send some potential clients your way, when they ask.”
If you cannot thank a referral source who recommend a new client to you, by giving them referrals in exchange, finds ways to express your gratitude to keep them motivated. Perhaps you can send them gift certificates to a prestigious department store, or send a certificate for dinner for two at an up-scale restaurant, maybe tickets to a sporting event.
- Being new to your profession – “I am too young and inexperienced.”
As a young lawyer, you have the advantage of boundless energy. To illustrate, sometimes older lawyers are unwilling to work weekends because they want to spend the time with their grandchildren. And they will attend a client matter on Monday morning. Young lawyers will usually have no hesitation in working all weekend to demonstrate value to a client. Also, if you personally do not have the experience that the potential client is looking for; you can sell the experience of the team, of the law firm you work for.
More and more, the entrepreneurs of today are high-tech geniuses under thirty years of age. They would rather work with a young lawyer who speaks the same hi-tech language they do than talk with an experienced older lawyer who is unaware of the latest e-commerce or social media developments. Youth is nothing to be ashamed of. If you put yourself in the right environment, being young will be a great advantage.
- The feeling of impatience – “Selling takes too long.”
In law school, it was possible to study all night right before an important exam and compensate for not having done the work all semester. However, on the farm, if you forgot to plant in the spring, you cannot plant a week before the harvest date and put extra water on the seeds and put out sun lamps. The seeds take their own sweet time to germinate and grow. Yes, selling can be a long-term process. But you should be enjoying the process itself knowing that you are not actually selling. You are building relationships and hopefully you will enjoy the process at the same time. The point is to stay focused. Take your time in planting and nurturing your seeds and in the long run, you will harvest a bounty crop of new clients. Stay focused.
- Not liking your job – “I don’t enjoy my work.”
Due to the tremendous time commitment that being an effective lawyer takes, the profession of law cannot be viewed as a job, it is a calling. You cannot market effectively if you are unable to convey your passion for being a lawyer and the pride you feel in your law firm. If you realize that your heart isn’t in it and you don’t like the work you are doing, it is a wakeup call that you need to make some serous changes in your life. This will require some deep introspection on your part and making some tough decisions. Your marketing efforts will be in vain until they are sincere – you must resolve your doubts before you can attract new clients. If you don’t believe what you are telling a potential, why would they?
- Lack of selling support – “I am the only one in my firm who thinks this is important.”
Become a one-person sales force. The sale of legal services takes place between two human beings. Every day of the week, lawyers leave their law firms and take clients with them. This proves that the relationship between the lawyer and the client is more important than the brand name of the law firm. You do not need the support of others to go out and sell. It is a very personal process. Develop your own individual marketing plan, then go out and do it. When the others see your successes, you will see how the culture changes to one of mutual selling support.
- The force of inertia – “I don’t know where to begin.”
It can seem difficult to get started if you have not been doing any marketing until now. You will not become a world class rainmaker in a few weeks. Selling is a process that takes time to perfect. Start by planning, then implement. Take baby steps at first and give yourself credit for small victories. If you have never joined a local chamber of commerce, join one and celebrate for having begun. Confucius must have been a marketing coach when he said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take your baby steps and soon enough you will find you have gone a great distance toward being an effective rainmaker.
- I am happily in my comfort zone – “Why bother?”
It is very short-term thinking to believe that if you are completely busy right now with work that is being provided by other partners or that your current clients keep you very busy, that you do not need to market your services. In the first case, if they are not your own clients, you could always be replaced by a senior associate who could do almost the same quality work as you but at a much lower cost to the law firm. This leaves you very vulnerable. In the second case, you never know when you might lose a good current client because they have economic troubles or are bought by another company that wants to use their own lawyers. In both situations, you must be constantly marketing your serves.
- Every company already has a lawyer – “How can I steal a client away from another law firm?”
Of course, essentially all companies currently have a lawyer or law firm. But this is not true 100% of the time. Some companies have a policy of changing law firms every few years. Other companies look for new legal representation after they lose confidence in their current lawyers due to mistakes or errors. Then, there are start-up companies that have never had lawyers but need them now. There are plenty of opportunities to obtain new clients. Get out and start your individual marketing and you will soon start attracting new clients.
- I’m a lawyer not a sales person – “This is not what I do!”
Just because you were not taught how to obtain clients when you were in law school does not mean that your individual marketing is not part of your job. It is. It is what you do. Think about it: what is a lawyer without clients? If you are not the one to bring the clients, someone else in the law firm is doing. Why shouldn’t it be you? You will be a more influential partner and make more money. And as we have said, you will not sell anything. You will meet people, make friends with them and let them know what you do. If you do this, they will come to you when they need your services without your ever having had to “sell” to them.
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