Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Upswing is Inevitable

The market for outside legal services has never been more competitive. Firms across the country are issuing capital calls, delaying partner payouts, experiencing splintering, spinoffs, longer collection cycles and some are imploding. Simultaneously, multitudes of firms and lawyers are vying for the same stream of litigation, corporate, intellectual property, regulatory and other legal work that Fortune 1000 companies send to outside firms. However due to the troubled economy, that work is under intense pressure from many angles and it is harder and less profitable to win and maintain. The same is true for the legal work of many businesses and entities that are not in the Fortune 1000. Despite the recession and economic difficulty today, firm leaders know that an upswing is inevitable. Some firms are beginning to invest in making sure that the firm and its lawyers win a share of existing, future and developing work. How are they investing? Here are some recent "best practices."

I. If it's not working, stop doing it or do it much more strategically/selectively - Too many lawyers and firms over-rely on investing their available marketing/business development time and budget on first generation, traditional marketing tools such as advertising, seminars, newsletters, attending conferences, announcements, websites, etc. Starting in 2009, one firm now requires a greater commitment and effort from any lawyer or group that wants to produce a seminar after finding that, in most cases, just writing and presenting a paper does not yield enough measureable new business to justify the time and money invested. So the firm now requires preparatory meetings to analyze and study the seminar audience; considering alternate delivery vehicles; and a follow-up plan to actually meet privately (either by phone or in person) with each attendee. This approach has resulted in an improved return on investment. Another example involves firms that are trying to win bankruptcy related creditors and debtors work. Many firms make less than memorable pitches to creditors committees and as a result, do not win the work. How to successfully identify, approach, pitch and win that work is a science and art form that our company helps lawyers and firms with regularly.

II. If it's proven to work, start doing it and/or do more of it -
A) Natural born, active, true rainmakers in any firm constitute on average only 5-7% of partners/shareholders. In this economy, the revenue those rainmakers are bringing in the door is no longer enough to support existing headcount (hence layoffs). Importantly, up to 80% of partners in any single firm are sincerely interested in becoming better rainmakers and are willing to commit to a credible and proven training and coaching program. In this economy, enhancing every partner's performance and results in terms of new business brought in the door makes a difference to the bottom line. According to Bill Scarbrough, Chief Operating Officer of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge (a firm where we recently launched our "Mastering the Sales Process for Lawyers©" training and coaching program), "We knew many of our lawyers could contribute further to our bottom line. The key was putting a strong group of them together and then hiring Julie, because her program is rock-solid and delivers outstanding results at many levels."
B) Most lawyers now realize that approximately 98% of new business comes in the door after either a one-to-one or small group meeting/conversation with a client or prospect. Given that reality, firms are re-directing time and money toward helping all lawyers enrich their personal contacts by improving method, approach, content, tone and especially follow-up. For example, one lawyer with whom we work recently created a new way to convert her mainly social relationships into business relationships, using our Money Bookª method and has already brought new business into her firm as a result.
C) Some firms have strong internal training, coaching and support internally. Others have tried bringing in outside training/coaching programs that they were less than satisfied with (not all programs or trainers/coaches are created equal). If you want to consider a proven, credible, results-generating option tailored for your firm or group, click here: What Clients Say About Us . Bottom line - the "sales" process is a science that is predictable, linear and systematic. But it is also an art form which requires a personalized, intentional, disciplined approach and commitment for each individual practitioner and/or group.

III. New Resources - To help increase the number of rainmakers in your firm and/or the amount of revenue lawyers generate this year and beyond, you may also want to consider the following resources:

A) 3 NEW WEBINARS ON DEMAND - now available for purchase from Business Development Inc.'s website. Click here for details.

  • How Companies Are Changing the Way They Use & Buy Outside Counsel©

  • Top Coaching Skills to Help Lawyers Develop Business© - a train the trainer/coach program

  • Getting Business in a Down Economy - Keys to the "Sales" Process for Litigators©

B) UPCOMING OPEN ENROLLMENT SESSION - Mastering the "Sales" Process for Lawyers©. Click here for details.

To be held later this year in NYC and/or Detroit. Space is limited. If you would like more information or to be put on the pre-registration list, please contact Julie Savarino.

C) UPCOMING WEBINARS - Alternative Billing: What's Working and How To's©, Date and time TBD

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