There is a definite Marmite aspect to Selling Legal Services: You either love it or hate it!!
There will be many practitioners who simply do not believe that you can sell legal services. They will postulate that it is too personal and intangible and that the only way to develop (meaningful) business relationships is to prove your worth by excellent service delivery. In other words, they are fervent believers of word of mouth marketing.It would be conjecture but I would wager that most of these proponents will be seasoned veterans who have had 20 years or more to hone their craft and build up their practices; and let’s face it, without taking anything away from them, most of them will have competed for work in an era where there were far less competition.
Whatever the genesis of your career aspirations in law – personal experience, friends or family – if you had thought that you would end up chasing your Peter Pan shadow, aka the Rainmaker, then you would, I bet, have thought long and hard before entering the profession!
I would wager that none of your cabal of advisors would have eulogised about the need to:
1) demonstrate super-human powers to cope with the workload;
2) deal with the cumbersome administrative and regulatory burden that besets law firms;
3) expertly manage yourself and others;
4) keep on top of your CPD (and in these modern times know how to leverage your intellectual capital to offer training programmes externally for a profit – in colloquial terms to turn a buck);
5) have 21st century IT skills – typing is not yet compulsory on the LPC but it will only be a matter of time; and …
6) the Grand Daddy of them all: YOUR BILLING PROWESS.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you need not have any inclination towards law, but, certainly, very few clients would be interested in your choice of University, your class of degree or the breadth and depth of case law that you carry around in your (encyclopaedic) mind. But rather what they want is a (very) simple answer to (nowadays) some quite complex factual situations.
Very often clients will be informed by copious amounts of research on the World Wide Web and in my experience will either be looking for a reassuring opinion of what they already know or, in some cases will, if you don’t tell them what they want to hear, look to challenge your legal and moral authority. I suspect in the old days that the level of trust (some would say ignorance) between lawyer and client was such that very few if any clients would challenge their solicitors opinion. A bit like “Doctor knows best”.
By effluxion of time, the ubiquity of information and our general reluctance to accept authority, the point is that the good old days have long since been expunged and ipso facto you cannot expect clients to instruct you on the basis of your advertising, web site or new, modern offices. If anything, with the paradigm shift towards digital marketing, we may be entering an era where the old form of word of the web is as important as who knew you in your local town.
If you truly want to get ahead with your careers whatever stable of law you currently occupy, then one thing is for certain; namely you need to know how to sell. And sell, almost like your life depended on it.
If you are going to take your sales craft seriously, then you will need to learn a whole new set of skills and in some cases unlearn some of what you already know.
Sales, at its core, is about building profitable relationships and that doesn’t just mean in a money sense but working with people where you both (seriously) aspire for a win/win and shared, positive outcome.
People do business with lawyers that they know, like and trust and whilst this sounds trite it is the bedrock of every profitable relationship.
If you go looking in every relationship thinking “What’s in it for me”, then you are going to find yourself chasing an ever smaller group of clients as the word gets around that you are only interested in making money. Now I know there is a good deal of cynicism out there but don’t seek to reinforce it by bolstering the stereotypes.
Over the coming weeks I will bewriting about how to sell legal services so that if you print out and collect all the blog posts you should have a system that works every time.
As Michael Gerber author of the eMyth has declared:
“Systems allow ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results, predictably.”
He uses the analogy of McDonalds to say that their proven system works every time. Now I am not suggesting that you should view what you do as selling hamburgers but the point is if that if you find a system that works then why not follow it. That is no different to the education process that underpins your qualification as a lawyer.
I would encourage you to start bookmarking this site, subscribing to it on RSS or Google Reader and sharing it with your colleagues in the legal profession.
To equip all lawyers with the necessary skills and information to enable them to sell legal services and more than that so they have a much greater say in the work that they do.
To inspire every lawyer to reach their full potential in the art of selling legal services.
For more on developing profitable business, innovating in professional practice and implementing social media, subscribe to the RSS Feed of my Blog. Follow me on Twitter at @0neLife, or @Ju_Summerhayes connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your practice, check out my coaching and consulting firm via LinkedIn, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 075888 15384.