by GrowthPlay Library / August 5, 2015
With clients continuing to demand that firms understand their business, it’s critical that firms have a mechanism to develop associates into more senior attorneys who understand a client’s business objectives, be able to speak their language and be able to look for the problems that actually need to be solved. Firms that are able to arm their lawyers with these critical skills are able to build a pipeline of retained talent who will generate more revenue and preserve firm market share.
Here are three best practices to help drive results in firm business development:
1. Shift the Mindset
If you’re an attorney, the idea of selling likely has a negative connotation. Many lawyers see it as a practice that’s reserved for those who never went to law school, or for those individuals who like the thrill of the deal, the hours on the phone, the rush of making the end-of-quarter number. We know that you didn’t go to law school so you could sell.
It used to be that if you were a great attorney, work would just come through the door. There was no need for a “revenue plan” or a business development process. However, the marketplace has changed. In order to adapt, you need a shift in mindset. Without a mechanism to drive new business, your firm will be challenged with:
It’s critical to the future of your firm to shift the mindset. Rethink your idea of selling as relationship building. Remember, relationships generates revenue. Develop a mindset around building relationships with potential clients and harnessing the great relationships you do have to drive further business.
2. Develop a Consumable Approach
Associates work long and hard to learn how to become great attorneys. Then they make partner and often times it’s just assumed that they either know how to develop business or they’ll figure it out. It’s far more important to the sustainability of your firm to provide the “how” to ensure that time is spent effectively and efficiently. A quick one-sheet of places to drum up business isn’t going to get you there. Telling your attorneys to simply leverage their networks isn’t likely drive the retainer clients you desire. You need an approach that’s practical and easy to digest. Your approach to business development should build on attorneys’ strengths and integrate into their daily operating rhythm. Make it consumable and executable.
3. Create a Repeatable Process That’s Focused on Your Clients
A business development process that’s repeatable and client-focused is far more likely to create change in your organization, than one that has to be amended with every new circumstance and simply promotes “how great we are”. Similarly, a revenue generation process focused on building authentic relationships drives value and mutuality with your client network. Your process should be focused on your clients. We call it being “other-centered.” Instead of looking out for yourself and what your connection can do for you, approach the process with generosity – look for the problems that should be solved, not necessarily the ones you will get paid for right away.
Repetition drives adoption.
If you develop a system for developing business opportunities at one client, it can help drive success in that account. But, if you can’t use that same process at the next client, you’re left with one-off success instead of lasting growth. The more people that are able to implement new business processes and have success with them in a variety of settings, the more likely they’ll adopt it as part of their routine.
The pressure for law firms to maintain critical market share has never been more important. As new market participants continue to disrupt the market, it’s essential that firms proactively innovate. A mechanism that arms your attorneys with business development skills can help drive the revenue generation activities that preserve and grow pivotal market share.
Those firms that put rigor behind business development will reap the benefits of repeatable success, including: