Every year law firms spend millions of dollars in marketing, client development, training and technologies to attract more clients. Law firm leaders understand that business development is the life blood of the firm. Or do they? An argument can be made that a law firm that puts business development as one of the top drivers of the firm’s growth would do a better job of addressing the most common challenges that are obstacles to the success of most attorneys. Many law firms survive on the client development effectiveness of a small group of the firm’s partners making law firms generally extraordinarily fragile. But eliminating these barriers could produce significant returns and spark faster growth in the firm.
What are these obstacles? This is the second in a five part series outlining the obstacles to business development in most firms.
–Lack of knowledge of sophisticated complex sales techniques
Legal sales are complex sales processes. They are fluid, dynamic processes that require a consistent, strategic partnership approach. This approach must address the multiple buying criteria clients use in the selection process while evolving the offering to fit the dynamic needs of the client. Unfortunately, many ‘legal sales consultants’ have heavily borrowed their tactics and processes from traditional product sales. Product sales are based on static product features and benefits and often use manipulative sales techniques to influence clients.
Sophisticated complex sales processes require a much different tact. Success relies heavily on needs discovery, solutions development and relationship building to affect the sale. Services are created through the sales process as opposed to sold as a static offering, like they are in a product sale offering.
While most attorneys have strong relationship building skills, use of many of the traditional product sales techniques actually dampen the pace of relationship building.You may play well together, but the minute the attorney forces a square peg in a client’s round hole the relationship begins to erode and credibility is damaged. Complex sales require consistent and regular sales training and coaching. As one sales expert is quoted as saying, “You cannot put a man in a cave, leave him there for twenty years and have him walk out with a geology degree!” Consistent and on-going training in complex sales techniques is critical to leveraging the relationships inherent in the firm.