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3 posts from November 2007

November 28, 2007

A new product to help lawyers increase business development results

When I started working with lawyers on developing new business, I was surprised by the lack of standardized reference and training materials. In the 20 years my company had been developing training and coaching materials for companies from American Express to Zurich Financial Services, I’d gotten used to the idea that large firms usually build training and support programs on a foundation of off-the-shelf products. But the lack of standard materials in legal marketing meant that each firm had to re-invent the wheel.

Success_kit_cover_border So we decided to fill this gap. At first, I thought we could develop standard materials for lawyers in a few months. But in fact we have spent over two years creating, testing, and improving them.

Finally, the day is here.  Today is the official release day of The LegalBizDev Success Kit™, an audio course and set of reference tools that will help lawyers win new business more quickly by applying best practices from other law firms and other professions. It includes:

  • The LegalBizDev Desk Reference™ - a 192 page guide to best practices, organized alphabetically to help lawyers find exactly the information they need, just when they need it. Whether you need to create an elevator speech, improve networking, qualify a prospect, plan a meeting, increase client satisfaction, or begin another business development task, this book provides checklists, samples, reports, and quick references to help each lawyer quickly identify the tactics that best fit their practice and their personality.
  • Legal Business Development: Basic Principles and Best Practices - a modular course that can be taken in short segments, on three audio CDs that can be played on a computer, CD player, or iPod. For a demo, see our web page.
  • Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide - a book that is already being used at large firms from Boston to Dubai to help lawyers decide how much time to devote to business development, to identify the most productive activities that can be accomplished within that time, and to assure follow-up.
  • Three items you can use every day and leave out on your desk to serve as marketing reminders: a notepad, a post-it pad, and a highlighter imprinted with the critical question, “What should I do today to increase new business?”
  • A Quick Start card to help lawyers begin maximizing the benefits, as soon as they open the box.

In the twenty-two years we’ve been in the training business, tools like these have become a standard way to reduce training time and increase efficiency in other businesses. For example, in the 1980s when large organizations started using new software, they would often hire companies like ours to offer in-house workshops to get employees up and running. These days, they are much more likely to avoid classes and instead invest in sophisticated help systems and online training, so that employees can quickly look up just the information they need, exactly when they need it.

The LegalBizDev Success Kit will be most effective when it is combined with coaching or workshops, because people develop complex skills like business development most efficiently with personal attention. But the Kit has been designed to also be of benefit to lawyers who prefer to work independently. How can you predict which lawyers will be motivated enough to follow up and do the work on their own? Ask them if they have a Nordic Track at home, and whether they use it to exercise or to hang their clothes.

The Desk Reference includes a foreword written by lawyer and legal marketing consultant Tom Kane, author of the widely read www.LegalMarketingBlog.com. “In more than 20 years in legal marketing,” Tom wrote, “I have never seen anything as valuable as this Desk Reference and Success Kit…. You could say I’m biased, because about a year ago I founded the LegalBizDev Network with the author, Jim Hassett. But I look at it the other way around. I joined forces with Jim because I felt that LegalBizDev had something new to offer.”

A few weeks ago, I started giving demos of a partially completed preview edition of the Kit at East Coast firms. Several of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the world purchased the Kit before its release based on the demo. These were the fastest buying decisions I’ve seen since I started working with lawyers. These firms plan to use the Kit in a variety of ways with both lawyers and business development staff, including train the trainer programs, coaching programs, as a refresher course, and as part of a web-based resource of business development tools.

Some of them have already come up with new ways to use the Success Kit.  Yesterday, I met with Roger Glovsky, who is a fellow blogger and my lawyer.  I had given Roger a preview edition of the Success Kit a few weeks ago, and he told me that he and his partner had listened to the CDs over several lunches, then discussed the implications of each module for their practice.  Why didn't I think of that?

If you'd like to try the Kit, there is no risk.  If you are not satisfied for any reason, return The Success Kit by March 1, 2008 for a full refund, no questions asked.  For details on cost and ordering download legalbizdevsuccess_kit_summarym.pdf

"The Success Kit is an amazing tool:  simple, effective, usable, and smart.  Jim Hassett has put together tools and tips which any lawyer can easily apply to their business development efforts at any stage of their career."  - Katherine Daisley, Product & Business Development Manager, ALM Media, Inc.  Click here for the complete review

November 21, 2007

Do you believe that legal excellence is the most important factor in success?

If you believe that legal excellence is the most important factor in success, I have bad news for you: Your belief is associated with failure.

A few years ago, the Brand Research Company (a division of Greenfield/Belser) published a study of the differences between law firms that succeed and those that fail. They surveyed lawyers from firms that had increased gross revenue at least five percent for two years in a row, and compared their responses to lawyers from firms that had been "dismantled or acquired under stress."

One of the biggest differences was that at the failed firms, more than four times as many lawyers reported that legal excellence was the most critical factor in success. (Among the other differences: successful firms reinvested more profits in growth, communicated the firm's vision to the entire staff, hired non-lawyer executives, and shared clients more.)

What's more, Charles Maddock has written in Law Practice Today that "according to client surveys conducted by Altman Weil, almost all clients believe their lawyers do good work, or admit that they can't really tell the difference."

So if you want to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment, you must do what Ken Blanchard recommends in the book Raving Fans: Learn what clients want, then give them more.

As Gerry Riskin explains in the book The Successful Lawyer, there was a time when a good education and good legal work were enough to guarantee success. There are many reasons that is no longer true, including: "Competitive threats from other professions, the high degree of specialization of lawyers, the advent and application of technology, and the fact that knowledge is depreciating much faster than ever before. Today it is necessary for good professionals not only to deliver excellence, but to be able to convey their value to clients and prospective clients."

If you are convinced that you must focus on satisfying clients by delivering value and conveying the message, the next question is which clients to focus on. Some experts say that you need to focus on every client. In a 1990 Harvard Business Review article called "Zero defections: Quality comes to services," Frederick Reichheld and W. Earl Strasser argued that service businesses should aim for "zero defections--keeping every customer the company can profitably serve."  I added the italics to the word "profitably" to call attention to the fact that they also believe that "There are some customers [each] company should not try to serve." My colleague and friend Tom Kane has written a number of posts on when and how to "fire clients."  If you need to consider this difficult and painful step, start with his recent piece entitled "Are Bad Clients Keeping You Up at Night?"

I am a big fan of prioritizing, so the idea of trying to please every client, or even every profitable client, does not sit well with me. 

When I wrote in this blog about Gerry Riskin's work on "bulletproofing your crown jewel clients," I began by quoting his argument that "You can't superplease everyone at the same time.  You need to discriminate."  He went on to describe how to pick the clients to focus on:  "It's really very simple. Imagine your worst nightmare: Your assistant walks in and says that a client has asked to have all their files sent to a new firm. Who do you pray it isn't?"

The only thing I would add to that is that if you come to this issue with the zeal of a convert, don't start with your biggest and most important clients first.  Practice on a few mid-level clients, and you will get even better at turning your crown jewel clients into raving fans. 

Guide_cover_web This post was adapted from my book Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide.

November 07, 2007

How to assure that you follow up consistently

There’s no way around it: Business development takes time. To build new business, you must follow up, week after week, month after month, year after year.

In The Sales Bible (p. 197), Jeffrey Gitomer sums it up this way “Most sales are made after the seventh no… It takes 5 to 10 exposures (follow-ups) to a prospect to make the first sale… [so] you’d better have what it takes to persevere through the follow-up process and not quit.”

Setting up a system for an individual

For many busy lawyers, the best way to assure that you will follow up is to “make an appointment with yourself” for one or two blocks of time that will be devoted to business development every week, such as 2-4 PM every Tuesday and Thursday. Put the time in Outlook or your weekly planner, and try to avoid scheduling anything else at that time. When something comes up that is more critical, as is sometimes inevitable, reschedule your marketing time.

We recommend setting this time block in the middle of the week, at a time when you are likely to be able to reach clients and prospects. If you think Mondays and Fridays are the best times to discuss new business with your clients, try it, track the results, then decide.

As management guru Tom Peters put it: “What gets measured gets done.” So if you are serious about developing new business, you will need a continuing system to track your time and your efforts.

There are four main types of tracking systems. In order of importance, you should consider tracking:
1. To Dos
2. time
3. activity
4. results

The system that works best for you will depend on your goals and your personality. It is easy to set up a system and hard to keep using one.

To maximize the chances of long-term success, your system must be simple and easy to maintain.

It also helps to share your results with a colleague, a coach, or even a relative or friend. Simply knowing that someone else is watching will make you more likely to follow up. The important thing is to find a system that works for you.

Setting up a system for a group

One of the best ways to get lawyers to follow up is to create a transparent system of group reports so that other lawyers can see what they are doing. The simple fact that a report is being circulated creates a friendly competition and increases compliance. Nobody wants to be the person who has all zeros in their business development report.

A group system will work only if it is simple, focuses attention on the most critical aspects, and is easy to maintain. It is a fact of life that in any given week, some lawyers will fail to complete their reports.

The most reliable systems often put an admin in charge of collecting the data (say, every Monday by noon), and publish the results every week at the same time (such as Mondays at 5). The report should never be delayed to wait for an individual’s results. This week’s missing data can be filled in next week. And the phrase “missing data” in the report will help to insure that the information will be supplied, sooner or later.

Ideally, the reports should start with a clean slate every quarter. Without this fresh start, once people fall behind, they are likely to stay behind and just give up.

When getting started, the best thing is to jump in with a simple report. (If you send the question to a committee, it may never come back.) Then try it out for a few months, and give lawyers a chance to review and revise it at the end of that time. This frequently leads to improvements, and always leads to greater buy-in.

Desk_reference_cover_with_border_6

This post was adapted from The LegalBizDev Success Kit Desk Reference, which also includes sample formats for possible reports. For more information on the Success Kit , see our web page.