November 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 second 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 not doing their individual marketing.
It is this individual marketing that will bring you new 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.
Part 1, the first ten excuses, was sent to you on October 1, 2017. If you missed that article, you can find it in the Blog section of our website (www.svacoaches.com). You will receive the third and final part of this series of articles on December 1st, 2017. Please look for the next article in your in box.
- The misconception that selling is demeaning – “Selling is for uneducated people.”
You cannot sell legal services – they must be purchased. You have a fine education and perhaps you think that Selling is only for people who are not well educated. Good, then don’t try to sell anything to anyone. What we mean is that no amount of high pressure selling tactics can make a potential client hire you if they have no legal matters for you to attend.
Therefore, what you should be doing is getting out and meeting as many new people as possible. Your goal is to be friendly and helpful to these new contacts. There is nothing demeaning about making new friends. After a number of contacts with your new acquaintances, they will know that you are a lawyer and how you might be helpful to them. When the need arises, they will come to you for your services. They will purchase your services where you previously were not able to sell them your services.
The technique of “Selling,” by not trying to sell, is a pleasant and lucrative way to spend your time. There is nothing demeaning about offering high-quality legal services to people who have become your friends.
- The fear of being needy – “People will think I’m a loser.”
You must never act as if you need more clients. In this way, you could not possibly be seen as needy. As mentioned earlier, in #11 above, you cannot and will not beg for legal work. You will only let the world know who you are and what you do. Then they will come to you when they need your services. You will not chase anyone with annoying selling techniques. Moreover, you know who you are. You know you are not needy and therefore, you will not come across as needy. You will be seen as the friendly, helpful, high-quality professional you are.
- The belief that selling makes you appear greedy – “People will think I only care about money.”
If you put being friendly and helpful first, their legal work and fees will follow. You must not act as if you need more clients – that will drive potential clients away from you. They will think “If you are such a good lawyer, why are you so desperate for new clients?” And this will frighten them away. We repeat, just be friendly and helpful and their legal work will follow. And then, as long as you offer high quality services for a fair price, there is nothing greedy about that. No one buys a product or service if they do not believe they are getting their money’s worth. That is what commerce has been about since the dawn of time. You are not greedy if you engage in commerce.
- The fear of boasting or bragging – “I don’t like bragging about myself.”
The last thing you want to do is to boast or brag. Potential clients continuously complain that a lawyer’s ego is the biggest barrier to getting to know him/her. Besides, the potential client thinks he/she is the center of the universe and as far you are concerned, they should be.
Your conversation with a potential client should be dominated by your asking questions about them – not by talking about yourself. You will get to know this person and gain valuable information about them that you will use in the future to stay in contact with them.
If you are pressed to talk about yourself and your legal services, let us point out that the late World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion, Mohamed Ali, used to say “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up!” There is nothing bragging in telling the truth about your education, knowledge, experience, loyalty and proven prior results. You will never find yourself bragging when you tell the simple truth.
- Shyness – “I don’t have a personality for selling.”
Shyness is situational. You are not shy around your family, friends, in the office or around other people you know. Your situational shyness may be based on your mistaken belief that you need to make a big impression and/or say something very clever to call attention to yourself.
There are several ways to overcome your shyness where you are uncomfortable. When you join organizations, start slowly. Do not think you must conquer everyone at the first event. Go to these meeting regularly and you will start to feel comfortable around the people you have already met and your self-confidence will start to rise.
The other element of shyness is that you don’t know what to say about yourself. The way to overcome this is to not speak about yourself. When meeting new people, ask lots of questions about them. Generally, talking about themselves is their favorite topic and they usually will go on talking about themselves for a long time. In the end, they will think you are a marvelous conversationalist when all you did was ask questions.
- The myth of being an introvert – “I have never been the life of the party.”
You never need to tell a joke or be the life of a party. Just be yourself and do not change your personality. You will have to stretch at least a little by getting out and being seen. Beyond that, do not think you must copy anyone else’s style. That is a stereotype of what you may think it takes to sell. You are not going to sell anything. You are going to do your individual marketing merely by getting out and meeting new people. In this style of marketing (and not pressure selling), you can meet people and still remain inside your comfort zone. You will find the ways that are the natural part of who you are; ways in which you can be an effective rainmaker.
In fact, being too much the life of the party by telling too many jokes or making too many funny comments could, in fact, detract from the perception that you are a serious lawyer. We recommend that even if you are that kind of extravert, do not tell more than one joke or make more than one funny comment in any situation where you are meeting new people or working with your current clients.
- The misconception of having to be best friends with my clients – “I don’t want to be friends with my business contacts.”
Being “friends” and being “friendly” are two separate concepts which are worlds apart. It is good to know as much as you can about your clients and potential clients: such as what are their interests, hobbies, who are their children and what is special about them, where they like to go on vacation, what sports they play, etc. This makes for an excellent working environment. It builds the human connection between you and your current and potential clients, a necessary element because clients want to work with lawyers they like. They will like you if you show a sincere interest in them and their lives. This is being friendly.
On the other hand, you will want to maintain a professional distant from your clients and potential clients. There is no need to go from friendly to becoming friends. Become friends might even jeopardize your ability to give objective legal advice.
- The risk of misinterpretation – “I don’t want people to get the wrong impression.”
When you meet new people in your networking activities, make your intentions clear by acting in a professional manner. Draw the line. It is one thing to have lunch with a potential client; it is quite another thing to suggest you go out together with your respective mates on a Saturday night for dinner.
Also, it is often not what you say, but how you say it. This can be particularly tricky when the lawyer and client are of opposite genders. If you have a life partner, make frequent references to him or her so the potential client does not think you are flirting.
- The obstacle of not liking your business contacts – “I don’t like my clients.”
Raise your standards. This is a perfect opportunity to make a dramatic change in your professional life. You are judged by the company you keep. (Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.) 物以类聚，人以群分 (Diga-me com quem você está e eu vou te dizer quem você é.)
Find organizations and professional groups where you will find the types of business contacts you want. To improve your tennis game, play with people who are better than you. They will pull you up. Do the same socially and professionally. Strive to have clients and referral sources who respect you and whom you respect. You will see that you are starting to get a better class of friends and clients.
- The obstacle of being insincere – “I don’t like feeling I am obviously looking for business.”
From the points mentioned above, change your paradigm about what you are doing. First, when you go to meetings of various organizations, do you think you are the only one who is there to meet people? It is just the opposite – that’s why everyone is there – to meet people and make connections. There is nothing unprofessional about that. It is how business is done.
Get out of your office and find out who is out there in your business community. Meet them, become friendly with them and stay in contact. Everyone is looking to expand their network of business contacts. They will not judge you for looking for business because they are doing exactly the same thing. You can benefit from finding good accountants, architects, bankers, insurance agents and so on.
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