The April lunch meeting of the Legal Marketing Association’s New England chapter was called “Meeting of the Minds,” because the idea was to learn about marketing best practices from other professions, including accounting, architecture, banking and real estate. Lots of people must have agreed with me that this was a great idea, because the event was sold out.
The moderator was old friend Catherine MacDonagh, known by some as the Director of Business Development at Day Pitney and COO of the Legal Sales and Service Organization. I prefer to think of her as the co-author (with Beth Cuzzone) of “The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills,” which will be published by the American Bar Association in a few weeks. (Full disclosure: I was a contributing author.) But I digress…
I left the session with dozens of tidbits which I will use in my own marketing, and two main conclusions. This week’s post will talk about the first: wherever you go, sales is sales. Next week, I’ll talk about the second conclusion: compared to other professions, lawyers spend very little on marketing.
Everyone likes to believe that their situation is unique, and everyone is partly right. But on another level, the fundamental principles of sales are the same for every type of business. As David Graves-Witherell from the Bank of America put it: “Sales is about people. It’s really that simple.”
Steve Steinberg talked about the pitch approach for his real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle: act like you’ve already won the business. It reminded me of several posts I’ve written about the power of optimism in legal marketing.
Similarly, Maria Abernethy talked about accounting firm Deloitte’s approach to RFPs: put your energy into building relationships, and focus on RFPs for people you already know. Or better yet, build such a strong relationship that your client doesn’t bother with RFPs, they just turn to you as their trusted advisor. Here again, I felt that this was fundamentally the same advice that I got from Ann Lee Gibson when I wrote about legal RFPs.
I loved Kathleen Leahy Born’s stories about how architecture firm Arrowstreet built a long term marketing campaign to change not just the amount of work they got, but the kind of work they got. They rebranded their image largely because “we never got to do the cool stuff.” Now, a few years later, they are perceived differently, and are happier with the mix of work. For examples of how this concept applies to lawyers, see my post “Will selling make you happy?”
One more example of how “sales is sales”: I’ve written often about how listening is the most important skill in selling. And at architectural pitch meetings, Kathy said, “the more clients talk, the more likely we are to get the job.” Therefore, Arrowstreet business developers do not go into meetings loaded down with brochures, PowerPoints, or lengthy agendas. Instead, they hand out a simple sheet with a list of talking points, plus bios and photos of the participants. Then they ask the client what they would like to add to the list. In the most successful meetings, they never get to their own talking points, they just listen to what the client says.
It’s always helpful to review the basics, and I left with several new ideas for my own marketing. But what made people sit up and listen was Roberta Montafia’s question from the audience: “How much do people spend on marketing and sales in your profession?” Next week, their answers, and some research I did after the meeting.