Last month I provided five of the harshest business building snafus that lawyers experience in trying to build a successful law practice. In case you missed it, this included:
1. Not using your calendar to schedule time for business development.
2. Not setting clear agendas in networking meetings.
3. Not creating call/email lists for business development.
4. Not developing a prospecting plan for business development.
5. Not leveraging your partners for cross-marketing opportunities.
This month, I am providing the second set of five snafus that you need to watch out for in 2020. Failure to do so WILL cost you time, money and lost opportunity.
Snafu #6 – Not investing time with your clients to build loyalty
If you think that doing the work well and charging a fair rate will keep your client loyal to you, you’ve just entered the “loyalty-myth” zone. Keeping clients loyal should be a part-time job for you if you truly want to keep them. This may include doing things like:
• Taking them to lunch or dinner (make your client your friend)
• Referring them actual business or making key connections for them
• Being more of a counselor than just an attorney (helping their business as a whole)
• Sending them articles, videos or audios that they will find interesting or valuable
While this is only a short list of options, it may only take two or three positive impressions for you to drive ongoing business, while ensuring that other lawyers can’t oust your existing clients.
Snafu #7 – Not asking for quality introductions from happy clients
Imagine your favorite uncle was just diagnosed with brain cancer. After telling your friend about it, he mentions that his father’s life was saved by the most amazing surgeon in the world. Do you want the referral or not? Of course you do! If you are a terrific lawyer who solves complex problems for people, you ARE that brain surgeon. The only difference is that brain surgeons don’t need to build a book of business like you do.
When meeting with happy clients who think you’re wonderful, just ask, “I know you’ve mentioned on a number of occasions how happy you are with the work I’ve done the past few years. I’m curious to know if some of the CEO’s that you know might also get value from meeting with me. What do you think?”
The key to pulling this off is to make it permission based and a value-add they can offer their CEO friends–just like the brain surgeon for your uncle. These quality introductions could make or break your year.
Snafu #8 – Not being a giver to your referral partners
I hear this often, “I’m just not getting any business from the networking I’m doing. What a waste of time.” Okay, so let’s be self-reflective here. What are you doing in these meetings to help someone else? Are you introducing them to new prospective clients or strategic partners? Are you inviting them to attend one of the networking groups you belong to? Networking, like a text chat, needs two people to participate. Simply meeting with people will typically not get you new originations.
Snafu #9 – Not asking better questions in a pitch meeting
Here’s the scenario: you walk in to meet with a new prospective client and she says, “Tell me about your firm and how to solve this problem.” Then, you make your pitch. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ve read my mantra, “Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.” Don’t get sucked into the buyer’s trap of providing free consulting. Take control by asking question and getting to the “pain” of the situation. You might ask:
• Tell me about your issues and what you’ve already done to address them.
• What are your greatest challenges, frustrations and concerns?
• Please provide me a few examples of these problems.
• How do these issues affect the company and you on a personal level?
Taking control and asking better questions may be the difference between success and failure in locking up the new client.
Snafu #10 – Not investing in yourself
Let’s do some math. You’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on undergrad and law school, with many of you still paying off that debt. However, you’re not investing time, money and energy in the one thing that ensures long-term sustainability in the industry. WH-A-A-AT?
While not everyone is a fit to work with me (ambitious attorneys only, please!), there are books, seminars, podcasts and videos that may help you learn business development and marketing for your practice. In knowing and meeting dozens of legal recruiters, what is the only thing they care about in making a placement? If you guessed “book of business,” give yourself a prize.
As they say, you can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube. Leave the past behind you. These top 10 business development snafus to avoid when building your law practice are lessons learned. So, use December to establish your game plan for business development in 2020—ringing in the new year with fresh ways to build on everything you’ve already started.