How Lawyers Can Make Business Development Less Cringe-Worthy and More Effective
Some in the legal industry believe that litigators are better rainmakers than non-litigators – but are they? According to Craig Brown of Law Vision Group, a master at teaching lawyers how to hone their ability to attract business, the answer is “No.” In a recent episode of the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast, Craig points out that the flow of business for litigators is different, and he provides 6 tips to creating successful rainmakers.
- Tip #1: Build Relationships with Clients for Future Work Before Litigation Ends
Litigators tend to say, “We’re working hard. Everyone’s head is down. This is not the time to bother my client about what else I can do for them.” So, they wait until the matter ends to bring it up. This is the worst time because most likely the last thing your client wants to do is spend more time with you.
It’s much better that each time you talk to somebody, you ask just one question to get a bit of information. For example, when you’re about to end a phone conversation, say, “By the way, who do you guys use for your employment work?” or “Have you ever had this problem?” You’re slowly building a dossier of information and it’s done in a trusted framework. Asking just one question along the way as you’re working with a client is easier and more productive than waiting until the end of a case and saying, “Hey, can I pitch you on this topic?”
Ask all sorts of questions: about their personal life, their professional life, anything that, in that moment, you feel is not an overreach. You’re getting information, and as a lawyer that’s how you serve people. You get information about them and what their needs are, and that’s exactly what business development is – the more you know, the better you can serve them.
- Tip #2: Network Within Your Firm to Generate Business
The lawyers at your firm are important for two reasons: (1) there may be work that flows from them; (2) a prospect or client may have a need that you can’t solve, but someone at your firm can. You can make the referral yet remain the “quarterback” of that person’s issues and still be in charge of the relationship.
So, when someone asks you, “What do you do?” instead of saying, “Here’s what I do,” you change it to “Here’s what we do” and you’re able to talk about the breadth of things that you can help them with.
- Tip #3: Nurture Relationships with Lawyers Outside of Your Firm Who Don’t Do What You Do
If you don’t have anyone at your firm that does what your prospect or client needs, you need to have a network of lawyers that you can refer that business to while you remain the quarterback. The last thing you want is for your client to go elsewhere without your involvement; they may never make it back to you for situations in which you can be of help. Positioning yourself as a resource, whether you’re referring to other people in your firm or out, is one of the strongest positions you can have.
- Tip #4: Marketing Specialization Will Open the Door to New Business
Find a niche and focus on your target market. Prospects like to bring in subject matter expertise from people who understand their industry, so focusing the outreach is very important; it sets the stage for you being recognized as a thought leader in the industry.
That sentiment also applies to how you spend your marketing dollars. Targeting an industry, or industries, is going to be more cost effective, and your returns will be so much greater than just trying to spend your budget going after the huge group of, for example, high-net-worth individuals.
- Tip #5: Leverage Your Personality Traits to Develop Long-Term Referral Relationships
One of the things that’s been discovered in personality testing is that some of the best rainmakers are very much introverts. The thing about introverts in general is that they may not have a long list of relationships, but the ones they have are deep and strong. Clients stick with them and introverts quietly help their clients to see, “We could do this other work for you as well.”
- Tip #6: Turn Awareness Activities into Relationship Activities
“Awareness activities” are things like writing articles, giving speeches, joining associations and going to meetings. These activities are worthwhile because they give you credibility, but the more important thing is relationships.
Make sure that when you have an awareness activity, there’s a relationship activity associated with it. The simplest example is if you’re writing an article, turn that activity into a relationship activity by calling a client and saying, “I’m writing this article and we worked together on one of these points, what’s your input on this? I’d like to quote you or maybe we should write the article together. Do you want to see a draft? Could you check through it for me and see if I’ve missed any key points?”
Now, you’re building a relationship with that person. This is much more impactful than the thousand people that read the article and say, “Oh, that’s interesting,” then set it aside and go on with their workday.