« How to get started developing new business | Main | The top ten ways for lawyers to increase client satisfaction »

July 02, 2008

How to increase results by planning sales advances

Many lawyers increase results by adapting the concept of “advances” from Neil Rackham’s system of SPIN Selling, based on the most systematic research ever conducted on the sales process.

One basic idea from SPIN Selling is that if you measure the success of a sales meeting by whether or not you close a sale, you won’t see much success.  Only about 10% of the sales meetings that Rackham studied led to a decision, pro or con.  Instead, success should be measured by whether you are able to move the relationship forward, or achieve a behavioral advance.

Lawyers love this idea because it is backed by evidence, logical, useful, and easy to implement.  One implication is that you should prepare for every meeting and call by planning the advance you would like to achieve.  Another is that you can measure your short term business development success by the number of advances you are able to achieve.

An advance is a specific action taken by either party that moves the sale forward.  This could mean scheduling a meeting, getting introduced to a decision maker, or being asked to provide a summary of past experience.

One big mistake that novices often make is they try to push for too much, too soon. The best sales people are experts at judging what advance can realistically be achieved at any stage, and getting it. Which creates a natural progression to actually getting new business.

Successful rainmakers often plan the advance they hope to achieve at each meeting.  The trick is to predict the largest possible advance that is realistic, and to also have a second easier “backup advance,” in case it is not possible to achieve the first choice.

There is no generic solution to this problem; specific advances must be defined for every client and every situation.  Sales professionals spend a significant amount of time with their managers brainstorming these situations, and lawyers can be more productive if they too brainstorm with colleagues and coaches before key meetings.  Here are two examples for lawyers.

Example 1, in the table below, shows possible advances for an intellectual property lawyer who is doing about fifty percent of the patent work for a client, and would like to increase the percentage.

The advance (specific action that moves the sale forward)

Moves sale forward?

Easy to achieve?

Choice

Get a meeting with the new technical person who may be involved with patents.

A little

Easy

 

Bring new team associate to next meeting; stress this is strictly to intro­duce her—no charge for her time.

A little

Very easy

2nd  choice

Schedule satis­fac­tion review, to in­clude questions about how your legal services compare to other firms.

A lot

Hard

1st  choice

Provide progress review of patent work at the next meeting of the client’s board of directors.

A lot

Very hard

 


 Example 2 came from a brainstorming session with a lawyer whose firm had recently been added to an approved vendors list.  He expected to see his primary contact at a conference, and was trying to figure out what he should try to achieve.

The advance (specific action that moves the sale forward)

Moves sale forward?

Easy to achieve?

Choice

Request clarification on the step by step process for beginning a new engagement, after an assignment is made.

A little

Very easy

2nd  choice

Meet with the General Counsel (the decision maker). 

A lot

Very hard

 

Meet with other in-house staff (who influence decisions).

Moderate amount

Hard

1st  choice

Get an assignment for the first engagement under the new contract.

A lot

Very hard

 

Discuss the specifics of several recent engagements that went to other firms, to get a sense of how decisions are made in this organization.

Moderate amount

Hard

 

Kit This post was adapted from The LegalBizDev Success Kit™, a multimedia reference tool for lawyers who want to increase new business by building stronger relationships.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c72a653ef00e5539134df8834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How to increase results by planning sales advances:

Comments

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.