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April 30, 2008

Self-test: How efficient are your business development tactics?

Note:  This test is for partners and senior attorneys.  Associates are different.

Do you have a marketing To Do list?

Can you name the top marketing tasks you need to accomplish?  If you can consistently do that without ever writing anything down, I am jealous.  But if you’re like me, you’ll need a written list, in Word or Excel or Outlook or on the back of an envelope.

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If you don’t have a marketing To Do list, start one. Maybe it simply has two columns – one for the client’s name, the other for the action item.  Or maybe you need more columns to track priority, deadlines, your most recent contact with the person, and more. 

The ideal format will vary from lawyer to lawyer.  The best format for you is the simplest one you can work with.  The simpler it is, the more likely it is that you will keep it up to date and continue to use it.  For sample formats, see The LegalBizDev Desk Reference, pages 61-68. 

Are you prioritizing properly, so that you concentrate on the tasks that will produce the greatest results?

You must constantly prioritize activities, and keep returning to the question:  “What should I do today to increase new business?” 

No one has enough time for business development.  Even sales professionals who devote 40, or 60, or 80 hours per week to this task must make hard choices every day about what will and will not get done.  Lawyers who have trouble finding five hours per week for developing new business, or one hour, or five minutes, face a much greater challenge.

For some lawyers, the answer is “simply” to place the highest priority on tasks that are most likely to yield the type of clients you want to work with, and the types of matters you prefer to focus on.  That’s easy to say, and hard to do.

If you need to step back and think about the type of work you should focus on, see my blog post on “How to Define Your Niche.”

Is every one of your key clients a raving fan?

Whenever I give a speech to a group of lawyers, I ask how many think their top clients are satisfied.  Almost everyone thinks they are.  But systematic surveys tell a different story.

In a 2007 survey of general counsel, Inside Counsel magazine asked lawyers to grade their overall performance with clients as A, B, C, D, or F.  62% of the lawyers thought they were earning an A.  But when they asked clients the same question, in fact only 19% earned As.  In other words, more than 2 out of every 3 lawyers overrated their performance.

What’s more, the critical question is not whether your key clients are satisfied.  It is whether they are raving fans.  Note that I keep asking about key clients, not all clients.  As consultant and lawyer Gerry Riskin has noted “You can’t superplease everyone at the same time. You need to discriminate.” 

For advice on how to turn clients into raving fans, see my blog posts on Gerry’s concept of “bulletproofing your crown jewel clients”, my post on The top 16 ways to increase client satisfaction, and a list of over 40 best practices in The LegalBizDev Success Kit.

In case you haven’t heard, the economy isn’t doing too well, and other lawyers are coming after your clients.

So no matter how happy your clients are, it is always a good idea to make them happier.

Do you spend enough time on business development?

For lawyers, one of the most difficult and most important questions is how much time to devote to business development.

One fundamental law of marketing is that if you spend no time, you will get no results.  The best plan in the world will produce nothing unless you follow up, week after week after week.

How many hours will you devote to business development each week?  How should you strike a balance between bringing in new work and paying the bills by doing the work you already have?  Not to mention finding the time to go home before your kids grow up. There are no easy answers, and every person who provides services for a living—including lawyers—must constantly struggle with this question.

In my book, Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide , I recommend an absolute minimum of at least one hour per week if you are focusing on current clients, and three hours per week if you are looking for new clients. Remember, this is not my recommendation for a goal, it is my recommendation for an absolute minimum.  For more advice, see my post on how much time should lawyers spend on business development?

Do you track your business development time and activity every week?

As sales guru Tom Snyder put it:  “Measurement is the engine of change.”  When we coach groups of 6 or more lawyers in our platinum programs, we measure the time people put in every week, and report it to the entire group.  The simple fact that time is being tracked and reported increases the time that lawyers spend.  For advice on how to do this if you are working by yourself, see The LegalBizDev Desk Reference, page 66. 

Do you delegate all the work you could, to leave more time for business development?

I’m going to take a wild stab at this one, and guess that you are reluctant to delegate because other lawyers are not as good as you are.  If that is indeed how you feel, watch for my post on “How to Delegate” which will appear in a few weeks.

If you answered no to any question above, turn it into a yes.  And if you answered yes to every question: Congratulations.  Now stop reading this blog and get back to bringing in new business.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Self-test: How efficient are your business development tactics?:

» "Yes, they have more money." from What About Clients?
Associates are different. Back to marketing, selling, clients, serving clients, keeping clients, and keeping clients you like. In a gem we missed last october, our friend Jim Hassett notes that associates, with limited time for marketing, are different... [Read More]

» "Yes, they have more money." from What About Clients?
Associates are different. Back to marketing, selling, clients, serving clients, keeping clients, and keeping clients you like. In a gem we missed last october, our friend Jim Hassett notes that associates, with limited time for marketing, are different... [Read More]

» "Yes, they have more money." from What About Clients?
Associates are different. So do they really need to market? Back to marketing, selling, clients, serving clients, keeping clients, and keeping clients you like. In a gem we missed last October, our friend Jim Hassett notes that associates, with limited... [Read More]

» "Self-test: How Efficient Are Your Business Development Tactics?" from Stark County Law Library Blog
Posted by Jim Hassett: “ Note: This test is for partners and senior attorneys. Associates are different. Do you have [Read More]

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