Marketing to existing clients is far more likely to result in new business. Let’s face it, it is far easier to sell someone on something else (within your portfolio) when you have already bought once.
If that is right then why do firms still persist in chasing new client wins at the expense of their existing clients?
Marketing to your existing clients
In the current market law firms should be focused on who represents their best clients and working out a strategy, client by client, to cross-sell and up-sell their legal services. Of course, they should also have a plan to acquire new clients but more of their effort should be going into this exercise. If that is not the case then they are squandering their biggest asset.
One of the major problems that law firms face is that because they have allowed the firm to grow without any systematic process in place to capture client information – and I don’t just mean their names and addresses – it is now difficult to work out which clients should receive the most, or in some cases any, attention.
The usual litmus test is to look at those clients that:
(a) are household names within the community and have instructed the firm;
(b) those that have instructed the firm on more than 1 occasion; or
(c) to ask around, which usually involves sending a series of bland and not very well thought through emails asking “Does anyone know this client?”.
There is also the problem that even where you have a client name and they look worthy of developing further that there is no information available to you that might provide the genesis for a successful marketing campaign. You know the story – it is locked away in someone’s head.
Let’s assume you move beyond this stage and have your existing clients mapped out on a spreadsheet. What next?
1) Undertake an analysis, with all the appropriate fee earners assembled, of the additional service lines that can be sold. E.g. if you have a client where they have employees then if they are not instructing you for employment work then that will be uppermost. But why stop there? Also consider debt recovery, employee incentives around the private client offering (wills and conveyancing), property, commercial and IP.
2) Agree which clients are going to be the responsibility of which fee earner. It doesn’t always follow, in this exercise, that the person who last had contact is the best person to sell additional services.
3) Discuss a plan of action with some milestones that you are going to implement. Consider:
a. What sort of ‘campaign’ are you going to embark on to win new business? Letter, email or by telephone;
b. Will you need marketing literature i.e. some sort of collateral to convince the client that you have the necessary expertise in that area;
c. Who is going to organise the meeting with the client? You will need to think about a face to face discussion rather than rely upon the client selling in the new service line. That may be as simple as a telephone call or may require a bit more effort;
d. How much effort/time/money should be spent on each client activity. This exercise whilst profitable in winning new business does not come with a guarantee;
e. Do you have the resources to keep things up? Don’t start something that you will get bored with or give up on for lack of time/resources;
f. What will a successful outcome look like? Are you going to say that winning £x in new business represents a success? How will you know if this work has come to you as a result of your new marketing activity as opposed to the client coming back to you anyway;
g. The point about marketing to existing clients is to put some structure to the exercise. You will have something in place for new client wins and the trick is to make sure you have something that gives a vision and return on marketing investment to existing clients.
4) Make sure you play to your strengths. If you have a strong private client team then work that area first. If your commercial offering is not so strong don’t invest significantly more time there just because you feel you need more work from commercial clients, usually because they are viewed with more importance.
The other aspect of existing client relationships are the referral opportunities. Consider that when it comes to the final meeting or follow up and they say that they have no current requirements ask them if they are able to recommend someone to the firm. Don’t do this in a haphazard way. Make sure you do it with every client regardless of whether they instruct you and don’t feel embarrassed to do so. And don’t give up at the first sign of rejection. When the client says: “I can’t think of anyone right now” then you need to dig a bit deeper and just get them to focus on specific interest groups that they circulate within – golf, Rotary or the church – and then ask them the same question. You will be surprised after this second more insightful questioning how many recommendations start appearing.
At the next marketing meeting make sure this is at the top of the agenda. If it is not already there, the issue of marketing to your existing clients is the single most important thing you can be doing right now to win more, profitable work. Rave about it; talk it up if necessary but don’t neglect this important area. Getting closer to the client – which is what fundamentally this exercise is all about – will provide a steady stream of work and referrals and is worth the investment of proper time and attention.
If you are interested in learning more about this area, then why don’t you contact me with a view to coming to your firm and offering some training on this important and profitable area.
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. I offer a free consultation and will quickly help you indentify the top 3 things that can make the biggest impact to your practice.