Sunday, June 16, 2013

Law Firms Work to Increase Revenues by Creating Formal "Sales" Functions©

The information below is from the highly-rated webinar entitled "Law Firms Use of 'Sales' Functions, Models and Pipelines – What Works, What Doesn't©", presented on June 5, 2013 by Business Development Inc. using their custom, CLE compliant WebEx Learning Platform.

Approximately 20% of Am Law 200 law firms now have a dedicated "sales" function/department/effort operating internally within their firms. Most law firms' internal "sales" functions are structured firm-wide, then focused on developing new business either for specific practices, select clients/prospects, and/or designated geographic areas. Some firms' sales personnel are assigned to two or more practice areas/types and/or geographic areas. Some of the major law firms that currently have these bona fide, internal "sales" functions in place are: DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie, Reed Smith, Mayer Brown, King & Spalding, Womble Carlyle, Steptoe & Johnson, Bingham McCutchen, Cooley, Littler Mendelson, Thompson Coburn, Bowman and Brooke, and Faegre Baker Daniels, among others.

Importantly, these "sales" functions/departments are different and usually distinct from the firm's existing marketing/business development departments, although the two functions/departments usually work closely together to coordinate leads, opportunities and follow-up efforts. Approximately 80% of all major law firms’ internal marketing/business development department personnel have already - for years - been offering some degree of "sales support" at varying levels. However, that support/assistance is mainly provided on a reactive, as-requested and/or opportunistic basis, such as to help with major opportunities and/or RFPs (requests for proposal).

Webinar attendees included representatives from many Am Law 200 firms and Canadian firms. One of the polling questions asked during the webinar was, "What is your firm’s number one greatest concern/issue/challenge re 'sales'?" The audience's number one response was "lawyers' lack of interest, time and/or sales skills," and the number two response was "lack of current 'sales' support staff members time and/or budget." These responses suggest that the current marketing/business development departments in firms have the capabilities to assist with "sales", but not the time or budget.

As a result, to date at least 20% of major law firms realized that because there was no organized, proactive "sales" support operating within their firms, it made economic sense to upgrade their "sales" approach, organization, coordination, time spent, deliverables and follow-up efforts to create efficiencies so they can improve ROI from the hundreds and thousands of hours that lawyers and law firms devote to new business development.

The formality and sophistication of these "sales" functions currently in place within approximately 20% of Am Law 200 law firms varies. There are three primary, bona fide "sales" models used within these firms, as follows:

  1. Senior Partners are tasked to reduce or eliminate their billable hours and to concentrate on rainmaking and/or lateral recruiting.
  2. Sales persons and/or staff in-house with experience in other professions have been hired/designated to “sell” for the firm, create an institutionalized "sales" process, provide dedicated "sales" support (accounting firm experience is most prevalent), and/or provide dedicated sales support/coaching.
  3. Former in-house counsel and others have been hired as counsel and/or consultants focused on "sales".
It is important to review the ethical rules and rules of professional responsibility for each relevant state and jurisdiction.

For more information, please contact Julie Savarino,

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