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 third in a five part series outlining the obstacles to business development in most firms.
Obstacle Three –Failure to adhere to a consistent and productive sales routine
Most law firms today lack the performance standards to guide the growth of the firm. There is a wide variety of client development and marketing activities, each with varying degrees of effectiveness. But firms tend to equate all activity as mutually beneficial. As such, attorneys are allowed to focus on low payoff activities such as calling on the wrong people, not preparing for the sales call, participating in value starved community activities or consistently calling on the same low revenue clients. In other words, attorneys are allowed to confuse activity with productivity.
Law firms and attorneys rarely follow a consistent sales routine which pre-qualifies prospects, plans the client development strategy, researches the competitive and organizational conditions of the prospect, and implements business partnership building processes. They tend to react to opportunities as they arise whether or not they present a meaningful opportunity. What’s more, they cocoon in their comfort zones of conference attendance, cocktail parties and concerts and rarely work to optimize their sales processes to generate bankable results. And firms, starved for anyone willing to do any kind of client development, chalk ineffective activity up as comparative progress under the guise of ‘relationship building’. But in fact, these activities are friendship building activities, not business partnership building activities.