Get ahead of news and developments before they evolve into problems that threaten important relationships...
An attorney recently told me that one of her biggest competitors had taken a senior position in the legal department ... at her top client. Naturally, she was both surprised at the news – she hadn't known her client was looking to hire – and quite concerned about how it could impact her relationship with (and work from) the company.
This story of being surprised by key information about clients (a small crime in a relationship-based business) illustrates one of Navigator's great strengths for lawyers: the ability to monitor and get ahead of news and developments before they evolve into problems that threaten important relationships.
Here are three examples of what I mean by that:
1. Problem: As above, a key competitor announces a move in-house to one of your top clients.
Solution: In Navigator, set up alerts to track competitors, coupled with alerts that tell you as soon as a new lawyer joins any of your top five biggest clients. (One of the largest advantaged here: you can track individuals you’re not connected with and without their knowing you are tracking them.)
A steady flow of such pre-emptive information will let you get in front of developments before you're blindsided by a new hire who starts sending work back to their old firm instead of to you.
What to do when you learn the competitive landscape has changed?
- Show them you're paying attention: send the GC a note congratulating them on the new hire.
- Remind them of your history: you already send your client regular status updates on ongoing matters, so why not include some historical details – recent successes, ongoing assistance, maybe even billing summaries – that tell a complete story of the ways you help the company achieve their objectives?
- Create an opportunity to enhance your relationship: propose a meeting or a lunch to bring the newly hired attorney up to speed on the relationship the company already has with your firm and all the matters that have been worked.
2. Problem: Client has a major situation – a product liability crisis, a lawsuit filed against the company, an unexpected takeover bid – that you don't learn about until after they’ve hired another law firm.
Solution: In Navigator, track alerts that capture shares and posts made by the company and its people, as well as news and developments about them.
With alerts aggregated from all major news sources, as well as posts on LinkedIn, this will let you stay ahead of stories and news (the important rumors and the actual developments) that affect key clients.
What to do with that information?
- Show them you're paying attention: let your clients see that you begin your day reading news that's relevant to them – monitoring their company, industry and marketplace – and start conversations around those developments. Don’t wait for a crisis, start doing this sort of informed outreach regularly. The person who nurtures a relationship when there isn’t a need is the one who will be top of mind when there is a need, and will likely win the work.
- Offer solutions: If the issue facing your client is one that you're particularly well suited to solve, go ahead and offer specific solutions that you know will help. But even when you don't have the legal expertise they need to deal with it, it's likely that you have relevant insight that can help them identify steps to take.
- Connect them with experts: you don't have to do legal work to help your client when crisis strikes. Making a connection they can leverage is another way to add value. Whether or not your introduction leads to a meaningful solution doesn't matter: your client will appreciate your effort, and you'll benefit from the goodwill you created.
No matter how good you and your firm are, you're not going to get every piece of work your clients hand out; but when you regularly communicate with them about news and developments that impact their operations and success, you'll position yourself for better success.
3. Problem: You learn of an important regulatory change in a client's primary market only when that client calls and asks for guidance on dealing with the new rule.
Solution: I know I sound like a broken record, but Navigator can solve this problem for you, too. Daily and weekly alerts that monitor developments in the geographies and sectors where your clients do business – like "China" and "the EU" or "Automotive" and "Telecommunications" – ensure that you'll always know about the things that keep your clients up at night.
So, how to turn intelligence gleaned from Navigator alerts into business development opportunities?
- Show them you're paying attention (sound familiar?): your clients will appreciate – and quite possibly reward – your interest in the things that matter to their success. Can you think of a better way to show you are committed to adding value?
- Provide background: Sometimes the best value you can add is context: how other clients have dealt with industry regulations in Brazil or DOJ investigations in Montana or even unfamiliar business customs in Uganda. Share what you know.
- Offer solutions before your clients starting looking for them: turn the information you gather – about business and regulatory developments affecting your clients or competitors entering and exiting key markets, for example – into guidance that anticipates the problems they're likely to face and offers solutions that will alleviate the challenges.
What are some ways that you use Navigator to help you sleep better at night? Drop me a note, and I'll include them in a future update.
[Samantha McKenna is Head of Sales, Enterprise, NYC at LinkedIn. Follow her for her latest writings on law firm BD on JD Supra. Connect with Sam on LinkedIn to see how Navigator can transform your firm's growth efforts.]