In deciding what companies may be good targets for your legal services, should you avoid companies that have established relationships with outside counsel? Not according to new research reported in the American Lawyer. There are plenty of ways to “unseat the incumbent” including competing on price, something which until recently did not seem as important in the legal sector.
Why do attorneys find it difficult to sell? Is there something intrinsic in a lawyer’s personality that gets in the way when they try to market their services? What are some of the ways that lawyers can improve their sales effectiveness and overcome these natural barriers?
I was recently interviewed about these topics on the Legal Talk Network by Jared Correia of MassLOMAP . In the interview, I discuss with Jared some of the ways you can get past your own natural obstacles and build the practice you want. Click here to listen to the podcast or subscribe to this and other LTN podcasts through iTunes.
A big marketing challenge for law firms is to figure out how to speak with one voice. Unlike businesses where the products or services are easily described, a law firm may offer a broad mix of intangible services. So even a partnership with five attorneys might have the expertise to handle over two dozen types of matters.
In reality, however, there is no effective way for five lawyers to communicate two dozen services to the legal marketplace. A successful marketing strategy needs to be considerably more focused. Rattling off 20 things when someone asks what you do is simply not effective. It does little to differentiate you from any other law firm; and it ensures that you will be completely unmemorable.
A better strategy is to do some assessment and planning and decide where you might get the most return on your marketing investment. In other words ask yourselves:
Businesses in most other industries (including accounting firms and other professional services providers), understand the importance of taking the time to do this kind of planning periodically.
Unfortunately, many law firm partnerships never take the time to have these discussions. A lot of law firms operate more like an association of service providers who share expenses. Each lawyer stays in his or her own silo and not much is decided on a firm-wide or even practice group level.
But a group of lawyers can market much more effectively as a firm. By focusing on the “best opportunities” and by getting every partner on the “same page”, a firm can increase the likelihood that its message is getting through the noise. And with the increased competition in the legal marketplace and the explosion of email marketing and social media in the past decade, this is no easy feat.
So how does your firm measure up? Have you taken the time to survey the partners in your firm and come up with a consensus about where the firm should focus its marketing energies? Do you all describe the firm in the same way? One place to start is to use a marketing audit tool that appeared in Law Practice Magazine several years ago. If that doesn’t move the conversation forward, then maybe it is time to get some outside help.
Highlighting risks for your clients is an important part of effective lawyering. But clients want more than a laundry list of risks. They want solutions so they can sleep better at night. Click here to read more.
I presented a seminar to a group of elder lawyers in the spring. In this webinar, I discussed why in general, selling is difficult for attorneys. I also provided some tips for making the sales process easier. You can now watch the webinar in full by clicking here.
It is important to have a plan if you want to build your law practice and having a written marketing plan will greatly increase the likelihood that you will actually follow through. But for attorneys, there are many obstacles that get in the way of marketing. Most lawyers are more comfortable doing actual legal work than spending time on marketing activities. Then there is always the lure of the billable hour (how can I spend time on non-billable work when there is still billable work to be done).
Probably the biggest challenge that attorneys face is that they are trying to change their behavior. They are not accustomed to spending time building their reputation or on business relationship building and some of these activities do not feel either natural or comfortable. So even if a written plan is put in place, executing that plan can be difficult. Read more…
Lawyers should always focus on finding ways to give value to their clients and prospective clients. Trying to close business all the time is likely to backfire because pressure does not build trust. For more on this, my latest tip in the MBA Lawyer’s e-Journal.
My latest LPM Tip in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Lawyer’s e-Journal.
My latest LPM tip for the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Lawyers eJournal.
Lawyers are good at asking questions. Making effective use of this skill (especially if you take the time to listen to the answers) will enhance your marketing effectiveness. Read more in my latest article in the Massachusetts Lawyers Journal (pg. 16).