3 Takeaways from LMA-LA’s “Coaching-in-Residence (CIR) Business Development Workshop”

On February 20, the Legal Marketing Association’s Los Angeles Local Group was honored to host Deborah Knupp, Managing Director at GrowthPlay, for a business development coaching workshop. The program took place at Akerman LLP in downtown Los Angeles during lunch and Loeb & Loeb LLP in Century City in the late afternoon.

Deb has worked globally with CEOs, managing partners and professionals as a coach and business executive for 25 years. She has helped leaders in the legal, accounting and financial services fields align their people and business objectives to create cultures based on accountability, integrity and authentic relationships. Her work focuses on making the work environment a place where the best employees want to work, where profitable clients want to buy, and where inspired leaders want to serve a bigger purpose in their communities.

While Deb provided a wealth of knowledge during her program, here are three key takeaways:

The Buy/Sell Paradox.

To be successful at sales, you have to think of it as a service.

Buyers often first make purchasing decisions based on emotional connections, then use rational arguments to justify those purchases. Conversely, sellers use rational arguments to pitch a product or service, then subsequently appeal to the emotional component.

In order for lawyers to be successful in business development, they must alter their approach from selling based on rationality and justification to an emotion-centric framework. To do so, they must sell their services based on four buying triggers. Lawyers and their marketers can begin by finding a concern – uncovering a pain, or need of the client, to stimulate a buying appetite. If none, they can stir a conversation based on a trigger of curiosity and piquing the client’s interest. If there is still no traction, the lawyer can always show confidence in their work or promote a connection on a personal level to encourage the client’s buying mindset.

During the course of a relationship, many clients think “wouldn’t it be great if my lawyer called not only when they’re looking for work?” Don’t sell just because you are looking for work. Cordiality and amiability drive growth in business development opportunities.

DNA of Business Development

Business development takes time, as shown in the slide below. Deb recommends 7 to 14 touch points with a contact before seeing revenue results. It is also important to know where you are along this timeline, because it is impossible to go backwards when moving on to the next phase. Lay a solid foundation in the targeting and relationship-building phases before moving on to the actual sales pitch.

DNA of Business Development - Slide from Deborah Knupp's Coaching-in-Residence Presentation to LMA-LA, 02-20-18

Helpful hints when building a client relationship:

  • Attorneys should always have positive headlines and good news to share. They need stories to tell, because storytelling triggers memory much more effectively than simple generic statements.
  • Attorneys should be ready to both answer and ask questions. When coaching your attorney to respond to the simple question “What do you do,” tell them not to respond with: “I’m a (generic practice area) lawyer.” Teach them to expound about the generic statement to share: “I (verb) (target market/companies) (problem solved)” in order to create an impact on the contact.

Coaching Tips

  • The attorney needs to be willing. How bad do they want this business development coaching?
  • Only focus on 1-3 goals. Do not make the process arduous for the attorney.
  • Have a schedule. Do not be spontaneous in coaching.
  • Figure out their style. Meet them where they are.
  • Set the bar high. Don’t let them off the hook and diminish accountability.

Sean Lee is the marketing coordinator for Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, a boutique in Century City focused on complex civil and white collar criminal litigation.


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