With fierce competition in the marketplace, law firms need to know how best to market to, sell to and serve clients. During the April LMA Midwest Luncheon Program, David Freeman, J.D., of David Freeman Consulting Group LLC, presented tips and best practices from a series of webinars recorded with 27 top CMOs and law firm business development specialists.
Building Niches and Developing Strategy
As Ross Fishman, Esq., CEO, Fishman Marketing Inc., said, it’s hard to “market to all of America.” To combat this, firms can find their niche and work on getting to know, and getting known by, the right people. Additionally, Freeman offered a few ways to develop an overall strategy, including:
- Build on strengths
- Create objective measures of progress
- Know your personal brand internally and externally
Growing Networks and Staying Memorable
The presentation also highlighted that growing networks can begin by utilizing existing networks and finding a reason to reach out to someone. From there, a firm can build those personal relationships and categorize to grow different networks. A firm can often be the second choice for those who have a law firm of record already. Once a contact is made, Freeman suggests continuing ongoing contact, as “not now” does not always mean “not ever.” Similarly, as many firms already know, it takes many rejections to get a sale, and Freeman suggests it could take as many as eight rejections before a sale is complete.
Some ideas of ways to stay memorable include:
- Give annual feedback and hold planning discussions
- Conduct audits/review documents
- Make visits and join clients for strategic planning sessions
- Be an active speaker and participate in conferences and organizations
- Go to social events, community organizations and start a group
- Engage in social networking
Client Loyalty: Delivering Exceptional Client Service
Attorneys need to continually focus on providing exceptional client service. The service must be customized for each client, and the firm must work on building personal and long-lasting relationships. Freeman noted that clients are looking for regular visits, probing questions, managing expectations pre-matter, checking-in during major matters and debriefings at the end of matters.
Freeman listed obstacles to cross-selling, which include:
- Internal and external communication
- Understanding client needs
- Understanding lawyers’ needs
- Lack of comfort/skill
- Accountability, follow-through and tracking
Cross-selling is most successful if it is driven by the recipient and if the relationships are built with the clients in advance. Prepare to ask high-value questions and outline next steps, such as scheduling another meeting, if necessary.
Alternative Fee Arrangements
Freeman revealed how to best utilize alternative fee arrangements. Some of the suggestions include:
- Move from price to value
- Use blended models
- Base them on expressed needs of the client
- Reference the ACC value challenge
- Apply internal legal project management
- Partner with good clients
Maximizing Business Development for Laterals
Building internal relationships, making checklists, partnering with marketing and business development departments and developing and communicating an internal brand and story for external contacts will help laterals transition to their new firm.
Strengthening internal relationships can also enhance business development for laterals. Firms need to remember to:
- Help other lawyers
- Teach (group and one-on-one)
- Develop key relationships
- Conduct joint marketing
- Attend group meetings
- Support cross-group initiatives
Making business development sustainable can be a tough task for firms. Thus, Freeman suggested creating personal business development habits, practicing push-pull, scheduling set times, generating a buddy system, mentoring, making accountability groups and setting up practice assistants.