November 2012 | Prepare Your 2013 Business Development Goals Now
Secrets of the Masters: Top Business Development Techniques for 2013
If you want to know what makes rainmakers successful, ask them – and ask the business development pros who have worked with them. Here is a compilation of the advice of 28 legal marketing professionals and consultants who worked with me on a series of marketing webinars.
Finding and Developing Niches
Notice how each of these products adds value beyond the basic utility of what they offer – transportation, technology, beverage. As a lawyer, you also have a basic utility – delivering a favorable legal outcome – but you can bring much more to the table to attract potential clients. Your specific brand, your niche, and the additional value you bring can take many forms. You may be THE top expert in a specific area of the law. You may have a strong background in an industry. You may be a superb networker and constantly help people around you. Perhaps you are a leader in your religious community, civic organizations, or school. Or maybe you are a minority and build strong relationships within your community. Whatever the asset, you need to understand it, and communicate it clearly to the right audiences.
Growing Networks and Staying Memorable
Do a complete inventory of your contacts, and look at the types of contacts you have: Existing clients, former clients, referral sources, alumni (from schools, from your firm). Prioritize the people you know, and cluster similar types into categories, so that, for example, when you think of sending a copy of an article to Fred the accountant, you can also send it to the 43 other accountants you have in your well-organized database. This approach is a great way to stay top-of-mind with a larger group of people.
Once you have good lists, you must work them. Regularly stay in touch in ways that are valued and welcomed. The experts suggested using some of these highly effective techniques for reaching out to your best contacts:
Getting Meetings and Maximizing your Effectiveness During Meetings
Once you have decided who to contact, you need a good context, a solid reason why they would want to meet with you. You need an idea, an approach that is valuable enough for them to find value in investing their time to get together. Our panelists suggested some of the following:
One you have scheduled a meeting, develop a plan to maximize your chances of success. First, assess whether the meeting is truly worthwhile – is this someone who can feed me or guide me to new work? Next, do your homework. I’ve seen clients who hired a lawyer because they uncovered important facts that impressed those clients. Anticipate the needs of the client. Remember, while you want the work, you’ll get it only if you offer something they truly need. The needs could be an alternative fee arrangement, specific expertise in a certain area, better responsiveness, geographic capability, or perhaps diverse counsel.
The most important part of any meeting is asking probing, open-ended questions. Get the client to do most of the talking, and listen carefully for their needs. Also, since most clients don’t give you work in the first meeting (did you get married on your first date?), you’ll need reasons to follow up after the meeting. During your preparation, think about what a logical next interaction might be – an offer to review a document, an introduction to someone of value, an in-house presentation, and at the right time during the meeting, if you have truly identified a need, ask if they’d like to take that next step.
After the meeting, conduct a debriefing session with someone else. Develop a follow-up plan, and determine how to stay in touch while adding value to the relationship.
Delivering Extraordinary Levels of Client Service
Great service usually breaks down into five major areas:
Making Business Development Sustainable
One of my favorite sayings, shared by a law firm chief marketing officer, is “business development is a contact sport.” Get out of your office, make good impressions on a lot of targeted people, and find ways to stay top-of-mind with them over time. Those who effectively play this game will build significant, satisfying books of business over their careers.
David H. Freeman is a former lawyer and CEO of David Freeman Consulting Group, a law firm business development consulting firm. He can be reached at 949.715.0819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAW PRACTICE TODAY
Micah U Buchdahl, HTMLawyers, Inc
Andrea Malone, White and Williams LLP
BOARD OF EDITORS
John D. Bowers, Fox Rothschild LLP
Margaret M. DiBianca, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP
Nicholas Gaffney, Infinite Public Relations, LLC
Nancy L Gimbol, Eastburn & Gray
Richard W Goldstein, Goldstein Patent Law
Katy M. Goshtasbi, Puris Image
William D Henslee, Florida A&M Univ College of Law
Allison C. Shields, Legal Ease Consulting, Inc.
Gregory H. Siskind, Siskind Susser, P.C.
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