Building Your Business Brain: The Neuroscience of Converting a Contact Into a Client

Vol. 16 No. 7

By

David King Keller, MBA, CMB, NPC, is author of the award-winning book, 100 Ways To Grow A Thriving Law Practice. He is founder of Keller Business Development Advisory Group. You are invited to link with David at LinkedIn.

The front page of The New York Times recently described yet another major challenge faced by virtually every law school graduate. With your law degree in hand, you now know something about the law, but what do you know about the business of law? What do you know about acquiring paying clients, also known as business development? Law school has developed your legal intellect, but what about your business brain?

Rainmakers are the lawyers who consistently bring in firm revenue. You need to know what they know. There is a neuroscience behind converting a contact into a paying client. Put plainly, you need to establish a relationship with two parts of the potential client’s brain, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

The amygdala is the “fight or flight” portion of the brain. It says “safe” or “not safe.” Within seconds of meeting you, a potential client’s amygdala sends a stream of messages within the spectrum of “like” and “do not like.” The amygdala is the gatekeeper. It decides whether or not you can have a friendly audience with the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that makes higher-level judgments and deeper analyses. The prefrontal cortex can make the decision to engage your services if the amygdala gives the green light. Therefore, the first step is to get the amygdala comfortable with you. You want it to give you the Facebook equivalent of a “thumbs up” or “like.”

You become a trusted advisor by connecting. Trust involves both emotion (the amygdala) and analysis (the prefrontal cortex). You can connect on a fairly deep level rather quickly and methodically by asking four questions. Ask these questions using your own words and style. They can be asked in one session, at a networking event, or over a longer period of time.

After some initial conversation, you look the potential client in the eye, and with respect, sincerity, appreciation, and genuine interest ask the first question.

“I’m curious: what are your current business priorities?”

And then, just be quiet and listen.

Remember, 90 percent of good communication is proactive listening.

After he or she has
answered that question, make
a transitional statement that indicates that he or she has been heard; or, have a conversation about his or her
answer.  Then, ask question
two.

“I’m interested in knowing: Where’s the pain in your business? What keeps you up
at night?”

And then, just be quiet and listen.

After he or she has
answered that question,
again, indicate that he or
she has been heard and ask question three.

“I would be very interested in knowing where the areas of growth are in your business. Where are the opportunities for gain?”

And then, just be quiet and listen.

You’ve just asked three questions that really caused the potential client to open up. If you’ve come across as sincere, their amygdala is sending an internal message along the lines of “This person wants to know me and cares about me. I’ve revealed many of my most important and intimate concerns and they are still showing an honest interest in me. I’m feeling comfortable. I’m feeling safe. I like this person.” After they’ve answered the last question, you transition as before, and now you’re ready for their prefrontal cortex and question four.

“How can my firm and I support you?”

And then, just be quiet and listen.

“How” is one of the most powerful words in the English language. “How” forces
the brain to go in one narrow direction: toward a solution to the “how” question. So,
they’re going to have to ask themselves, “Well, how can you and your firm support me?” And, in answering that question, you’ve rounded third base and are headed for a home run because they’re going to tell you how you can do business with them.

David King Keller, MBA, CMB, NPC, is author of the award-winning book, 100 Ways To Grow A Thriving Law Practice. He is founder of Keller Business Development Advisory Group. You are invited to link with David at LinkedIn.

NEXT STEPS

The Associate as Rainmaker: Building Your Business Brain. PC # 1620477. ABA Book Publishing.

Available at ShopABA.org!

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