Monday, October 10, 2016

Three Business Development Lessons from UPS

Corporate Counsel recently talked to the General Counsel of UPS to find out how the company hires lawyers (UPS GC: Firms Come to Pitches Surprisingly Ill-Prepared). Their findings offer three valuable lessons in client acquisition and development:
  1. Clients Are Changing It Up: you might think that #48 on the Fortune 500 list would use the same lawyers over and over. After all, there’s tremendous value in the institutional knowledge that comes with decade-long relationships. But that can also lead firms on the list to become complacent, taking clients and work for granted. To combat that, UPS requires all firms, including those already on their panel, to submit RFPs for new work. That gives newcomers a chance to land legal assignments from the company. And it gives traditional firms added incentive to show UPS how much they know about their business. Over and over again.
  2. You’ve Got to Prove Yourself to Get Bet-The-Company Work: “In order for us to feel comfortable with a firm handling a large matter, we have to have some relationship with them on the small matters,” said UPS’ GC, Norman Brothers. More to the point: unless you blow their socks off on the mundane – good work, good results, good price – you’re never going to get a chance to show them how well you can handle the big stuff. If the name of the game is value, then the size of the matter doesn’t, well, matter: you either produce value for UPS or you cost them money. 
  3. Preparation Is Everything: You already know that if you don’t bring your A-game to the pitch, you’re not going to get the work. But “bringing your A-game” isn’t limited to knowing the judge or having handled hundreds of similar lawsuits or worked on the year’s biggest acquisition. According to Brothers, some firms haven’t even read UPS’ annual reports when they walk into their offices. Those firms can’t know the big picture of UPS’ business and legal challenges. And more often than not, they can’t get to Round 2 of the pitch. 
Read the article. It’s full of the insight you need.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Is Your Written Work Worthy of Being Read?

Blog posts, articles, newsletters, and the like that nobody reads are pretty pointless. That’s why you need 10 Rules for Writing To Be Read, from JD Supra, Knox Design Strategy, and Repechage. Here's one:
“Be Useful. Think, ‘What can the reader do with this information?’”
This post will help you turn your work into something that your audience can – and wants to – read. Print it out. Stick it on the wall beside your computer screen. Then follow the rules, every single time you write. You’ll be glad you did (and so will your readers).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Win Friends and Influence People: Join a Trade Group

Membership does have its privileges, writes Thom Singer in The ABCs of Sales - J is for Join. That’s why joining a trade association, chamber of commerce, or other industry club is a smart idea:
“While it might sound cliché, it is true that people do business with those they know, like and trust.  Joining and being active in industry groups is one of the best ways to becoming known, liked and trusted.”
Read the post, and the read the list of local organizations to find one where your clients and potential clients hang out. So you can join the club.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grow Your Practice By Helping Your Contacts

Your success comes from your relationships, writes Betsy Munnell in 25 Easy Ways to Help Your Network…and Grow your Law Practice. And if you’re not focusing on the wants and the needs and the goals and the objectives of the people you know, it's time to start:
“So if your marketing plan consists mainly of ‘random acts of lunch’ then you’ll want to make some changes. If you take a prospect to a baseball game, then never call her again because she doesn’t send you any work, you’ll want to push the reset button.”
Read the post. Be inspired by Munnell’s suggestions. Start focusing on relationships. And start growing your practice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Good PowerPoint Presentation" Doesn't Have To Be An Oxymoron

If you give presentations using PowerPoint, you need to read Robert Frost’s 10 Smart Ways To Make Any PowerPoint Presentation Way More Interesting. For most of us, the convenience of Microsoft’s presentation software is a trap that keeps us from focusing on the words we say because we're too worried about the words we project. Your slide deck is a tool, not the main event, says Frost:
“PowerPoint slides support the speaker – they are not supposed to stand alone. When we get in the habit of handing out copies of our presentation, we get in the habit of designing our presentations to be handouts.”
Read Frost’s ten tips. Start making PowerPoint work for you, instead of the other way around.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Clear Writing Is Clearly Better

Good writing matters, writes Patrick Lamb in Clear writing makes a difference. The easier your written work is to read, the better people are going to understand it. And the better they understand it, the more they’ll be convinced:
“Using 50 readability measures, the study’s authors found that by a huge amount, a more readable, easy to understand brief is more likely to prevail over a less readable brief.”
Read the post. Follow Lamb’s advice on how to make your writing more clear. Your readers will thank you.

Friday, September 23, 2016

It Takes More Than Facebook To Get New Clients

Yes, the importance of social media to your marketing efforts continues to grow. Yes, social media can increase your visibility, and make it easier to find you. Yes, potential clients are probably looking at your social media profiles to get a better idea of who you are before they pick up the phone to call.

But having a Facebook page (or a Twitter feed or an Instagram profile or an active presence on any of the other hundreds of social media channels) isn’t going to turn your firm into a potential-client magnet, writes Sam Glover in Social Media May Help Your Business, but It’s No Silver Bullet:
“When social media works, it works because the lawyer who is using it is just networking. Not Networking with wine and cheese and a stack of business cards, but actually getting to know people.”
Read the post, and start thinking of social media as the ice breaker, not the main conversation.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Every Profession Struggles with Delivering Readable Content

When it comes to writing documents that everyone can understand and use, it turns out that lawyers aren’t the only ones challenged. It’s a problem plaguing financial professionals, too, say Steve Lipin and Adam Rosman in A Plea for Plain English in Financial Documents:
“As insiders, we need to stop writing solely for lawyers and professional investors (many of whom do not understand this stuff, either) and start writing so that anyone with an interest in the topic will understand the news or information.”
Read the post, and the five-point “cheat sheet” Lipin and Rosman put together for drafting news releases and publicly filed documents. Because they'll help you become a better writer. More importantly, they'll help you become the writer that those in a position to hire you will read.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Is Success Without Strategy Possible? No.

Having a strategy, a real, honest-to-goodness plan of action, is your competitive advantage, writes Samantha Graveney in Success Doesn’t Just Happen. It’s Planned For. All of your competitors are doing it (to varying degrees of success), and all of your clients – in one way or another – are expecting you to get out in front of their evolving legal needs and delivery of service demands. But it isn’t easy:
“Developing a coherent, informed, consensual and realistic plan is hard work; putting and keeping it in action is even harder. There are many opportunities for it to come off the rails or fall by the wayside.”
That’s where Graveney’s post, and her thoughts on the steps to a successful strategy, can help. Read it, and you’ll agree.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Communication Without Listening Falls Short

It’s easy to forget that listening is precisely what makes communication possible, writes Eric Fletcher in This Is Where Communication Begins. Because we want most of all to be heard, to deliver our message. That’s not communicating, though. That’s delivering a message, and then mistaking the delivery itself for communication. But it's listening that leads to connections and understanding:
“It is a counter-intuitive discipline that works exactly opposite of our practice. As opposed to being worried about what we should say, listening actually informs and gives shape to messaging that connects.”
Read the post. Stop talking. Start listening. And then you can begin to truly communicate.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Stop Networking. Start Connecting

Maybe we’ve been going about this all wrong, writes Eric Dewey in 7 Reasons Networking is Dead ... or should be. Maybe we shouldn’t be focused on networking, but rather on connecting:
“Networking is very [What’s In It For Me?]. If you've ever been on the receiving end of this type of interrogation, you know the feeling it creates. And you’ve made a mental note to avoid this person in the future. On the other hand, connecting is about how to help each other. Connection requires you to give something, your advice, your thoughts, maybe only your genuine participation in the conversation or a sympathetic ear.”
Read the post, and think about how you can better connect with the people you meet. Because you’re not speed dating and you don’t need an elevator pitch develop a meaningful relationship. You need to connect.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Road To A Successful Pitch Is Lined With ... Practice

If practice doesn’t make perfect, it certainly makes your pitch focused, efficient, and memorable. More importantly, writes Andrew Murray-Brown in Nailing the Fundamentals: The Value of Rehearsing, practicing before a client meeting can mean the difference between winning and losing:
“It is often in rehearsals that a team’s chemistry, so vital to a client’s impression of who they will hire, is formed. It is also through this process that a team can refine its message to be crisp, on-point and effective.”
Murray-Brown’s post offers an eight-point checklist that will help you turn your pitch into a new piece of work. Read it, and start practicing.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Write For Your Reader, Not For Yourself

Sophisticated buyers of products and services can generally determine whether to read an article – whether or not it will provide them value – before they invest their time (and possibly money). So why do so many of those smart buyers become irrational sellers when they write? That's the question that Tucker Max asks, and answers, in The One Unbreakable Rule in Business Writing:
“[It’s] because they see their writing, on some level, as a piece of themselves. They think it will confirm and validate their ideas.”
And that’s the wrong thing to do, explains Max, before he describes the process for making your work about your reader. Read the post. Stop writing for yourself and start writing for your audience. And watch them stop ignoring your work and start paying attention.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cross-Selling Only Sounds Easy

There’s nothing particular easy about cross-selling, writes Jim Hassett in Cross-selling Strategies: Cultivating New Business from Current Clients. It takes work, a client’s perspective, and above all a new attitude:
“Cross-selling should not be approached as a way to generate more business for your firm; it should be a way of helping your clients to run their businesses.”
Read the post, then spend some time with your colleagues understanding what they do and how they can help your clients. That will help you. And your clients.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Don't Be Afraid to Request a Client Visit

Wondering if it’s a good time to visit your client? Just ask them. Don’t get hung up on whether or not they'll be bothered by the question because they might be busy, writes Nat Slavin in The Right Time to Visit a Client:
“That is the bad kind of thinking that drives clients crazy. Clients would rather be asked and indicate when is the right time than have you decide they don’t want to spend time with you to 1) better understand their businesses and 2) help make their lives easier.”
Read the post. Reach out to your client. They’ll appreciate your interest. And you’ll appreciate their perspective.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Client Interview Questions That Get Answers You Need

Client interviews don’t need to be complicated, writes Linda Hazelton in What to Ask in Your Client Interviews. But the trick is to get them talking:
“For some clients, the only question you may need to ask is: “How could our service to you improve?” […] For others, simply providing an opportunity to expound on that one question may not be enough. You may have to ask a series of questions to draw these clients out.”
You’ll have to read the post to see the questions Hazelton suggests. Then you’ll have to sit down with your clients. Then you’ll have to ask them what they like – and don’t like – about the service, results, and people you provide. These questions will help.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Make Managing Relationships Your BD Priority

The client is king, writes Shirley Anne Fortina in Business Development: Strategic Client Relationship Management, but that king can be fickle. That's why your number one BD activity should be managing those relationships:
The better you know your clients, the better the relationship – and therefore the less chance your clients will look elsewhere. 
Fortina goes on to provide you with a series of questions that can help you get to know your clients – and your relationship with them – a little better. Read the post. Then call your client.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sharing (Legal Content) Is Caring - Not Giving Away the Store

Adding credible legal information to your blogs and websites isn't giving away the store, writes Susan Kostal, it's demonstrating a true expertise in the law that you practice, it's building trust with the people in a position to hire you, and perhaps most importantly, it's educating the consumers of your products so that they're better able to make informed decisions about the services you offer:
“Information helps consumers and spurs them to act; it doesn’t lead them to think they are experts and that they don’t need to see a professional. They ask better questions and are more engaged in their matter — essentially becoming the most ideal and cost-effective clients possible.”
Read the post. Then start publishing the content your clients and potential clients need.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

10 Steps to Successful Hunting in Packs

Lawyers often call on potential clients in groups. Not only because there's "safety in numbers," but because when you're trying to put your best foot forward, sometimes you need more than two. And to keep from tripping each other up, writes Gerry Riskin in Hunting In Packs: Group Meetings With Prospective Clients, there are certain steps you must follow to maximize the effectiveness of your meeting:
“Smalltalk should not be generic, but rather should be customized to your hosts. Avoid complimenting the artwork. It might look amazing to you, but the people you are talking to might not have been on the selection committee and they might hate it. Instead, ask a smart question that only thorough advance research on your part, about the corporation and the individuals you are meeting, allows you to ask.”
Read the post, then print out a copy of Riskin's ten rules to have on hand as your team prepares for the next meeting. You’ll be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Active Listening Is More Than Just Paying Attention...

With an ever-increasing number of communications channels – like email and voice mail and texts for starters – the importance of listening has never been more, well, important, writes Kevin McMurdo in From Sponge to Trampoline: Putting the “Active” in Active Listening. Because in spite of the technology, success in the legal profession continues to be built on personal relationships, which in turn are able to flourish when lawyers demonstrate active listening habits:
“Active listening, we agreed, meant (1) paying attention to the visual aspects of listening such as body language, facial expression and tone of voice, (2) listening with intent and (3) repeating what we heard for clarity and understanding.”
But there’s more to it than that, of course. Read the post for an overview of what McMurdo – and the heads of a leadership development consultancy who analyzed the listening behaviors and characteristics of more than 3,400 people – think are the essential traits of a an active listener. Then start doing it.