If only I had better clients …
… my legal practice would look so different.
Duh … a truism if ever there was one.
But before you lament the paltry state of the filing cabinet, you need to consider not only how you might achieve this but what you mean by “better”.
Do you mean:
- They are bigger?
- They have a more recognisable name?
- They currently instruct your immediate competitor and it would be a huge body blow if they were instead to instruct you?
- You like the look and feel of their business?
- You know or believe that their annual legal spend is more than £x?
- They have the potential to provide multiple instructions?
- They know everyone and if you snare them then they will give you access to lots of other people?
- Their estate is sizeable?
- They have a sizeable property portfolio?
- They have instructed your colleague for the last 30 years; s/he is about to retire and you would love the work.
The point is you need to think carefully about the proposition. Don’t just fall into the normal trap of talking in grand and rather empty language.
As we all know, clients come in all shapes and sizes but there are so many generalisms that abound – “we only act for high net worth clients” being a common statement – that it is sometimes difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. And before you enrol on the next rain-maker extraordinaire course or the in one giant leap you conquered all your sales/business development failings, think carefully what a dream client would look like. Please don’t be lazy and just say high net worth individuals or blue chip commercial clients. No start thinking with greater acuity about those clients that have the potential to provide sustainable, measurable and meaningful profit – even if not directly but by recommendation. Of course, they are sometimes easier to talk about than they are to spot but bear in mind that as the legal market, at the private client end, starts to receive the gaze of more high street brands, a lot of your current clients, even the ones that you would rather not act for, are likely to d-r-i-f-t across to the new kid on the block. Have you got the machinery in place, from a client relationship paradigm, to tackle this? Don’t know then you need to hunker down and start giving this area some serious time.
You need to consider how you are going to cultivate long-lasting ties without an immediate return. Yep I am advocating throwing some free time at this exercise. Think of it as cultivating a vegetable patch. You are not going to get far if you just think about the harvest all the time.
Whatever you do don’t fall back on the old adage that there are plenty more fish in the sea. That’s a dead end for sure.
You don’t need a posh CRM system to undertake this exercise. No, all you have to do is to look at your current clients, those that you have acted for on more than one occasion, those who have provided referrals to other departments and those that are willing to pay your bills without demur.
Once you have undertaken this exercise then meet up with all your colleagues who have the potential to sell in a service line or two. You should find that what emerges is a fairly clear pattern of your typical XYZ client. Of course don’t be afraid to be brutally honest and be clear that that particular client just isn’t right for the practice.
The point is you need to start thinking of your clients in a completely new way. Cherish them, love them, enjoy the relationship even if it is rocky from time to time and don’t become defeatest if you don’t immediately see your income sky rocket. Remember, as a trite as it might sound, business development or key account management is more like a marathon and not a sprint. You have to work at it every second of every day of every year.
Yes we all know that you need to speak with and engage your clients more often (always be on the lookout for those touch points) but how many of you do it? Very few I would wager. Ask yourself this simple question: When was the last time you picked up the phone to an old client and asked to come and have a quaint old chat? Today, yesterday, last week or last year? You should be doing this every week at the very minimum. In other words you should have an old client to see at least once a week.
Many firms have adopted some fabulous slogans concerning their clients – almost to the point of wanting a love in – but for heaven’s sake before you dream up the next uber slogan make sure which clients you should be thinking of first or second or whatever position you place them.
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.