Monday, April 17, 2017

Effective “Sales” is A Lot Like Baseball©

With spring training in full swing, this article focuses on how successfully developing new legal work is a lot like playing baseball. Here’s how:

§  Having a Winning Season – For a baseball team to have a winning season, all players and staff need to perform at their peak. The same is true for lawyers and law firms. Every attorney and staff member can contribute to new business development in one way or another to help ensure the firm has an excellent year. But if lawyers and staff members do not fully understand their roles and expected contributions, they may not perform at their peak and the firm may not have as successful a year as hoped.
§  Spring Training – Some baseball players show up to spring training camp in top shape, while others use spring training as a means to reclaim peak performance. The same is true for lawyers and law firms when it comes to new business development: many engage in what they define as business development only when they have time or feel like it. But in order to “play” effectively, it is important for lawyers to get and stay “in shape,” i.e., to put in the work to hone their knowledge and skills all year long.
§  Recruiting Star Players – When a Major League Baseball team acquires new talent, the team devotes significant and very focused time and resources to guiding, instructing and teaching the new player in order to ensure success. Most major law firms also rely heavily on lateral hires/acquisitions to fuel growth. Yet based on numerous survey findings and the continuing turnover of many lateral partners, few law firms have an effective lateral integration and development processes to ensure success for their (very expensive) laterals.
§  Understanding the Rules of the Game – Baseball players have a deep, master-level understanding of the playing field and all the nuances associated with the game. Most lawyers realize new business development is a relationship “game,” but they do not know all the ins and outs or the proven science of successful attorney-client and/or attorney-referral source relationships. Nor do they fully understand the process of new business development – which is in fact, like both baseball and the practice of law, a linear, proven and relatively predictable process.
§  Scoring – While hitting a grand-slam home run in baseball is ideal, it’s not the norm – it is the exception, which is why proven home-run hitters are paid so much. The majority of runs in baseball are scored after a series of fielded hits that allow the players to advance from base to base. The same is true for effective business development for lawyers. Rarely (if ever) will a company or client assign a lawyer all their outside legal work (the equivalent of hitting a home run in baseball). Instead, they normally offer a much smaller piece of work (a “base hit”), perhaps one case/matter or a conflict situation, which gives the lawyer the chance to prove his or her capabilities to the client and perhaps further develop the relationship.
§  Fielding Starters, but Having Backup – Without knowing each player’s skill set – exactly which player is best at which skill – most baseball teams will flounder. The same is true for law firms, the majority of which still expect each and every one of their lawyers to engage in what they define as new business development: speaking, writing and attending conferences, seminars and events. But these are really more marketing or awareness-generating activities, which many lawyers do not enjoy, like or excel at. In addition, many lawyers do not have a clearly designated backup lawyer(s) for every client, case or matter in the event that they get injured or are out of the game for any reason.
§  Practicing in the Batting Cage – To ensure peak results when going to bat, baseball players use the batting cage regularly to hone and refine their skills. Lawyers interested in becoming the best rainmakers or business developers they can be also need to regularly practice and hone their skills. There are numerous proven resources available for lawyers and law firms to assess, review, and/or upgrade their new business development program and initiatives.
Just like baseball players and their team, with focus, discipline, hard work and a little luck, you and your firm can become even greater champions!
About the author:  Julie Savarino is an attorney and an internationally renowned expert in client and business development for lawyers, law firms and other professional services entities. Throughout her 30 years of practice, she has helped lawyers and firms generate millions of dollars in new business through her internationally renowned assessment, strategy, training, coaching and other consulting services.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Selling Legal Work Is A lot Like Golf®

There are many striking commonalities between being a good golfer and being a good rainmaker, five of which are described below:

1.                  Know Your Handicap(s) –

Golf uses a handicap system that “evens out” the playing field (i.e., the golf course) for all levels of players. The better golfer you are, the lower your handicap. Handicaps start from 0 (those with zero handicaps are referred to as “scratch” golfers) to a high of around 40. Not only is it important to know your handicap, but if you want to become good at golf, it is important to establish a handicap through an accredited body like the USGA.

Handicap(s) in business development do not even out the playing field for lawyers. Instead they create challenges and possible detriments. Whether aware of them or not, ALL lawyers have and face handicaps in every single new business development situation. The most common handicaps are the lack of knowledge or understanding of “the playing field” and “lay of the land” and the key skills needed to succeed in different opportunities and in different situations. For example, the decision-making process for selecting outside legal services within each company or entity varies considerably, so creating and using a people-map in advance can help. Other handicaps lawyers face when working to develop business include the variances any client can perceive between what one lawyer or firm brings to the table versus competing lawyers and firms. A very common yet hidden handicap is any unconscious bias that may come into play when working to develop business with a specific person or company. For example, a “GenX” general counsel may have an unconscious bias against “Baby Boomer” lawyers.

As a lawyer wanting to be a better rainmaker, for each situation, ask yourself these questions as they apply to you: What are my handicap(s)? Which ones am I aware of? What handicap(s) might I have that I am not aware of? Using a proven rainmaking coach can help with these and many other issues, hurdles, and challenges.

2.                  Concentration –
Being “in the moment,” undistracted, and focused is important for success in golf and in developing new business. A major factor in the results you will achieve in either is a direct result of the degree and level of concentration you have and maintain throughout the game of golf and/or the process of developing new legal work (which is a proven process, part science, part art).

3.                  Career-Long Skill Development
Some key skills needed to excel at golf include your swing, short game, and putting, none of which is possible to ever completely perfect (Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods - arguably the two best golfers ever - missed many putts over their careers). Few people are born as “naturals” in golf or rainmaking, and even those born as “naturals” must continue to enhance, upgrade and improve their skills over the course of their career. Embrace the fact that “perfection” is an elusive objective both in golf and in developing new legal work. No one will win them all.

4.                  Find Your Own Recipe for Success
There is no “one size fits all” or simple solution to becoming a great golfer or a great business developer. There are many paths and avenues to success. Keys to success in either are knowing your objectives (how good of a golfer/business developer do you want to work to be?); making concerted efforts toward your objectives; creating and using disciplined preparation; regularly practicing; and finding and utilizing an effective coach.

5.                  Work Smarter to Win
In golf, depending upon how good you are and other factors, putting can be 50% or more of your strokes. Yet most golfers “warm up” or practice on the driving range, when the weakest yet most important part of the game is the “short game,” i.e., putting and chipping. At most golf courses and practice facilities, the driving range is full of people while the practice green and chipping green are empty. Why? It’s more fun to hit 300-yard drives than it is to stand on a putting green and make 3-foot putts into the exact center of the hole, making the ball roll barely over the front of the cup and drop in. That’s why a winning golfer’s maxim is "drive for show and putt for dough."

The same is true for lawyers wanting to develop new business. Most lawyers focus the majority of their available business development time on speaking, presenting, attending conferences, and writing. Each of these activities increases visibility and may develop business, but not as productively as other means. The fact is, almost all new legal work is awarded either during or shortly after a private, one-on-one or small group meeting or conversation, yet most lawyers do not spend time focusing on improving their “sales” conversations and related approach and habits. Spending available time most productively (i.e., working smarter) is key to becoming the best rainmaker and/or golfer you can be. Great coaching can assist with these challenges.

*The author gratefully acknowledges the generous contributions, advice and edits for this article provided by her two brothers, father, and uncle, each of whom is a “scratch golfer” and excellent business developer.

About the Author: Julie Savarino is an attorney, rainmaker coach, and one of the world’s most highly recommended  “sales” and business development coaches and consultants for lawyers and law firms. If you like this post, check out and "like" Julie’s new Facebook page @therainmakercoach where she will be posting useful and valuable "sales" and business development tips and content for lawyers, law firm marketers and law firms all year long!