Selling Professional Services: Marketing Leaders Discuss Competitive Advantages

On May 29, Diana Kroner, Chief Marketing Officer at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, moderated a program entitled “Selling Professional Services: Marketing Leaders Discuss Competitive Advantages.”  The program’s panel examined best practices for marketing and business development professionals and highlighted the similarities within the profession across a variety of industries. The panelists also offered insights that could be utilized by legal marketing departments in order to gain greater competitive advantage.

Panel members included, Kate Kirkpatrick, Studio Director and Principal at Gensler; Eileen Bramlet, Vice President, Marketing at Worldwide ERC and Chair of the DC Chapter of American Marketing Association; and Julie Chodos, National Marketing & Business Development Leader at BDO Consulting.

While attending the program, I noted several points raised by the panelists that may prove useful to legal marketing professionals and their clients:

  • Practice thought leadership. Thought leadership is a key component in the demonstration of the seller/doer sales model. Within this model, professionals are expected to sell their services first and then deliver those services after making the sale. Thought leadership should be a demonstration of the services you are selling regardless of the form the effort takes (i.e., writing, speaking, etc.). In other words, don’t tell people you know what you are doing; show them!
  • It is a conversation, not a presentation. Too often, professionals present to potential clients during pitch meetings. While sales are about showcasing your experience, it should be a dialogue with the potential client. The client does not care if you tell them you are the smartest person in the room. Everyone is smart. Show them how you are the best candidate and engage with them in the process.
  • What is your “Why” ? If your firm did not exist, how would the world be different? This is your “Why” selling point, which is used to show “why you should hire ‘us’ over ‘them’.” Marketing and business development is about knowing your “why” and ensuring it is consistently conveyed across mediums and in every activity.
  • Identify your preventers versus your promoters. Preventers like predictability and feel there is one way to accomplish their goal. Promoters want to accomplish something new and are open to innovation in order to accomplish their goal. You can be successful with each of these types of people, but only if you are able to identify which you are talking to and create the appropriate strategy to appeal to them. Both of these types of people want to accomplish something. It is your job to understand the mindset of the type of person you are talking to in order to help them achieve their goals.
  • Client feedback. Leverage small client feedback campaigns for advertising. Task your attorneys with reaching out to clients as an added touch point in building their relationship. When you know that an attorney is meeting with a client, request that they ask the client, “Why did you hire us?” and “What did you like about us?” People like to talk about themselves and how they feel. Use that to your advantage! These answers help you position your brand image in a more focused manner. Additionally, the answers are more reflective of the market’s perception of your brand.

In the end, the panel made it clear that it is important to look outside one’s own industry in order to develop and grow. However, make sure your activities align with your firm’s culture to best leverage your efforts.

By Whitney Krebs, Senior Business Development Coordinator at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., for the May/June 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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