During the March LMA Midwest Luncheon, Allan Coleman of the Closers Group discussed how legal marketers can help their lawyers get in front of prospects and convert them to clients. Allan discussed strategies for increasing success through building relationships, creating value, establishing differentiation and affirming an opportunity mindset.
He acknowledged this can be a daunting undertaking, since only about 3 percent of all the people someone knows are actually ready to buy. Under 10 percent are willing to listen, and the rest either don’t care or simply aren’t ready. And even among those primed for purchase, about eight to 10 “touches” are required to make a sale according to the Harvard Business Review.
How to go about identifying the people who are ready, then reaching out to them effectively won’t happen haphazardly. A plan, such as a marketing plan, may seem like the first step in the right direction. However, Allan mentioned an Economist article which conveyed a disheartening statistic – 95 percent of marketing plans are never actually implemented. So, in lieu of adherence to a plan, we would be well advised to focus attorneys on the prospects who are ready and willing to buy. This requires attorneys be primed with a mindset of being open to opportunities, then closing them.
Allan identified three main places that new business can come from: existing clients, referrals and prospects. He mentions there is a fourth – BHAG (a big, hairy audacious grab). So, we know where attorneys should be looking for prospects. What next? Coach them to follow a simple system – Find ‘em, meet ‘em, get ‘em, keep ‘em.
Find ‘em and meet ‘em
We should direct attorneys to go where these prospects go. Find out who they know and try to make these connections. Set up a luncheon with the goal of gaining a comprehensive understanding of their needs. He also advocated they read what their prospects are reading. Rather than burrowing into legal journals and technical publications, a savvy opportunist will read the publications their prospects are reading to keep a pulse on the issues they are concerned with and those with which the attorneys may be able to help.
When lawyers are going out and doing other activities to connect with their target audiences, such as speeches, presentations, etc. it is important to make sure that these efforts are multiplied. For example, the text of a speech could be repurposed as a white paper, linked on the firm’s web site and pushed out through social networks. Social media is an important tool, but it cannot be used as an excuse to get out of face-to-face interaction with clients. Remember, successful business development is not about single acts but rather the total exposure. Social media can be one component, but ultimately, it’s important for lawyers to be in front of people.
While we as legal marketers may sense resistance to our business development coaching, an ALM Intelligence survey of laterals said they moved because they could get leadership and business development training at their new firm. It’s a skill that lawyers are increasingly recognizing they need, and according to Allan, a survey done by the Closers Group found that most attorneys and marketers said that their firm’s professionals were not trained on tactics to close.
The third step, getting prospects to buy, requires an understanding of the Firm’s business, their competitors and their differentiation. Professionals need to understand that there will always be objections and they need to be able to address them in a positive way. When engaging in these kinds of conversations with clients, they should always address the next step at the end.
Other helpful tidbits:
Attorneys should perfect their elevator messages, a 15-20 word statement that immediately grabs people’s attention.
In a similar vein, their online bios need to state within the first few sentences what clients will get from them.
Converting a prospect to a client is just the beginning! Firms have to continuously work for their clients beyond the scope of a particular matter. Allan noted that in-house counsel, in general, say they terminate at least 2 long-term relationships per year. Client service and relationship management are essential to avoid becoming one of these casualties.
Rejection can be hard, especially for people who prefer to avoid failure. However, in business development, it’s important to remember that because someone says no, it does not mean you stop working with them, says Allan. If you ultimately get business from just 5 percent of those people, it is pure profit since you’ve already laid the groundwork.
Marketing is like algebra, Allan said in conclusion. Find a formula that works for each individual, and continually refine and modify it to help them continue to succeed in marketing and business development.