In this episode, Steve Fretzin, Walt Hampton, David Ackert, Chuki Obiyo, and Liz Wendling discuss:
- Client, prospect, and networking follow-ups.
- Beyond the billable hour.
- Crossmarketing and solving the problems your clients are having.
- Specializing versus generalizing.
- People want to do business with people. You don’t need to use specific marketing language when talking to prospects.
- Increasing your rates will not run your clients off. If they see your value, they will continue to pay you with no problems.
- You can’t just say you are the specialist or the expert, you need to prove it and show it from every aspect of your firm from beginning to end.
- Business is a co-creation exercise. Creating an amazing business is about having amazing relationships.
“This is all baby steps, everything in practice growth comes down to baby steps. Spend a few hours talking to somebody about what those baby steps might look like. It will motivate you to take them.” — David Ackert
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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie
Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.
[00:00:00] David Ackert: This is all baby steps. Everything in practice growth comes down to baby steps. And if you find yourself up against a yes, but what about kind of objection that Steve illustrated earlier, you know, I’ve got already, I’ve got this practice and it’s broad and I’m a generalist. And you know, what about all of those people?
[00:00:19] David Ackert: If you find those words popping into your head, Give Walt a call. Give Steve a call. Give Liz a call. Work with a coach. Just spend a few hours talking to somebody about what those baby steps might look like. It will motivate you to take them.
[00:00:36] Narrator: You’re listening to Be That Lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author, and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time, with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.
[00:00:58] Steve Fretzin: Hey everybody, welcome to Be That Lawyer. I am your host, Steve Fretzin. You are in for such a treat. We have part two coming up of The Coach’s Corner, Be That Lawyer Live, um, where we are just going to roll right from our last episode, uh, into this one. If you missed the part one, go back and check it out.
[00:01:15] Steve Fretzin: And if, uh, you’re new to the show or you’re checking this out for the first time and you just want to start here, that’s okay as well. Um, here we go. Enjoy everybody. Listen, we’ve got a question here from my friend and client, Michael. What is the appropriate amount of time to allow before you schedule followups with someone?
[00:01:33] Steve Fretzin: And does anyone schedule it on the spot to automate that followup at a certain time? So I think we’re talking about, you know, client followups, prospect followups, networking followups. Liz, you want to, you want to start us off on this? Oh, it’s my
[00:01:45] Liz Wendling: favorite F word, follow up. And first of all, I teach my clients not to even use the word follow up in their follow up.
[00:01:53] Liz Wendling: Because the entire planet is using the same language. So following up, touching base, reaching out and checking in, get rid of it. You don’t need it. It’s not important. You’re already doing the activity. That signals to someone, Hey, I’m just following up, means Hey, I just need your attention. I need you to do something.
[00:02:10] Liz Wendling: It’s your move and I’m just reminding you. So there’s so many other ways to get back to someone without that type of language. And it doesn’t inspire someone to get back to you. So, I would say change your language if you want someone to get back to you, but, yes, you have to either schedule your follow up with someone on the phone, Hey, Walt, when would you like us to continue this conversation?
[00:02:32] Liz Wendling: David, I know you and I are traveling next week, is… Three weeks from now, a good time for us to reconnect. Chucky, when is a good time for us to reconvene what we started today? And it’s, it’s doing it while you’re on the phone, saving yourself a step. And then, it’s up to you then to make sure that you do the activity of follow up without using the word follow up.
[00:02:57] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, so when we finish a meeting, one of the easiest ways to not have to deal with follow up to Liz’s point is just let’s schedule our next step. Right? You’re there, we’re there, let’s just, let’s just get it in the books and then you’re done. Right Then, then it’s golden and that’s not the case. And so, Liz, what’s the subject line though?
[00:03:13] Steve Fretzin: So like if I’m, normally, if I’m writing, checking in or following up in a subject line, is there a better subject line than you’d recommend? Anything is better
[00:03:21] Liz Wendling: than said . Just write in anything. Quick question mark. And I would say use your subject line from a reference point of the previous
[00:03:29] Steve Fretzin: meeting. Yeah.
[00:03:31] Steve Fretzin: Very good. Very good. Let’s even, I would say,
[00:03:33] Walt Hampton: Liz, that just where you share was, is just brilliant. What I would say is, you know, what happens in marketing and business development is we think there is marketing and business development speak and it’s people do business with people and, you know, it could be a subject line that says when life gets in the way.
[00:03:52] Walt Hampton: As it has for me, or, you know, it’s just, it’s, what would you do to somebody you had a relationship with? How would you write to that person? And, and Liz, getting it on the, and you said it too, Steve, but we tend to allow open loops. Somebody will say, well, I’ll think about it, I’ll get back to you. What I’ll say is, awesome, Liz, take as much time as you want, and I know you’re really busy, and my schedule gets booked up.
[00:04:18] Walt Hampton: What would work for you? When can we get it on the calendar? Two weeks? Three weeks? What
[00:04:21] Liz Wendling: works for you? And then you look like the professional, because you are keeping the ball in play, instead of saying, Okay, I’ll wait, you know, yeah, take your time, it’s not a big deal. You’re putting some urgency, not a ton of urgency, because I don’t think we can create urgency for anyone.
[00:04:37] Liz Wendling: And, but it is nice that you’re the type of person who keeps the ball in play.
[00:04:43] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, and I would say when you have a prospect that you meet with, if you’re not setting up the next step right away, I think you want to follow up the same day or next day. It’s not something where you wait a week and say, well, they probably want to wait a little bit of time before we talk again.
[00:04:56] Steve Fretzin: I’m right away. Hey, great meeting with you. You know, this is what we spoke about. This is what we discussed as far as where we’re going to go from here. Let’s get that in the calendar right away. And here’s my link, of course, going back to the acuity and Calendly and doing that. I don’t think you should wait at all.
[00:05:11] Steve Fretzin: If it’s someone where you feel like you need to give them a little bit of space, then, you know, set again, a schedule in your calendar or something to follow up with someone a week. So you don’t mess it or put it in your pipeline plus, and that way you’re going to make sure you don’t miss that.
[00:05:23] Steve Fretzin: Opportunity to follow up, but I’m all about, like, getting it done and knocking it out right away. David? I
[00:05:29] David Ackert: want to underscore, we’re making a distinction here, between do you want to be in that chasing dynamic, right, with the follow ups, and the checking ins, and the, hey, it’s been a little while, and the sort of, you know, um, subtle guilting of, oh, you know, we said we were going to touch base, it’s already, it’s already February, right, like all of that nonsense, versus this other tactic, which I think is so good, and I’m taking a note myself, I need to get better about this.
[00:05:54] David Ackert: Which is as you’re wrapping up the call with the person, you say, let’s schedule our, our check, let’s schedule our next check in our next conversation. And I appreciate you need some time. Maybe you need to circulate a decision internally. Maybe you need just some time to, you know, think about this. How is two weeks give you enough time?
[00:06:11] David Ackert: Great. Let’s find a date two weeks from now and put that in. It’ll be a quick touch base, but we’ll have a conversation about it then. Right? That is so such an important distinction. Get it out of email to Walt’s point, get out of your inbox, get it onto the calendar to Chukey’s point. That is the representation of where your priorities are and where your time will be spent.
[00:06:31] Steve Fretzin: Fantastic.
[00:06:32] Walt Hampton: And I just want to remind our lawyer friends, don’t forget old school. So one of the things that we have always done, we did it in our law practice. We do it in, uh, in our coaching business now when we, when we bring in a new client, we’ll send out a handwritten note. And a little, and a small gift of, of books and a coaching journal.
[00:06:53] Walt Hampton: Thanks so much for, for deciding to work with us when we would finish a, a, uh, a gig as a law firm, thank you for the privilege, the opportunity of serving you. The handwritten note is a vastly underrated tool and it is, you know, thank you, David for that kind referral, handwritten note. No one does that in the marketplace anymore.
[00:07:15] Walt Hampton: No,
[00:07:16] Steve Fretzin: that’s true. Unfortunate and true Liz. One of the things
[00:07:19] Liz Wendling: we, we haven’t touched on is what happens at the end of a consultation when you’ve sat with someone for an hour, 45 minutes, who is in decision mode and, and an attorney says, okay, well, you know, our intake person, we’ll get back to you next week or they’ll follow up.
[00:07:35] Liz Wendling: I teach my clients, but attorneys say, we’re not the type of firm that likes to drop the ball on conversations like this. You mean too much to us and that’s. Maybe not exactly what they’re saying, but it’s what they’re conveying, that we don’t sit with someone for an hour and then forget they exist, or we don’t sit with someone for an hour and then annoy the crap out of them for the next three weeks with follow up messages.
[00:07:59] Liz Wendling: So, the attorney has a conversation with that person about their decision making process. And then that attorney allows the intake person to put that in the notes and use the language the client said, I’m meeting with other attorneys or I need a few other week, a couple of weeks. And the intake picks up the ball.
[00:08:20] Liz Wendling: You mentioned in your consultation with Mary that you needed this. And all of a sudden there’s this, the cohesiveness and a feeling that you’re transferring to the client. You care and you care enough to use their language, not your own.
[00:08:35] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, sometimes we summarize something it blows everything up. It’s like that’s not what the what the client said.
[00:08:41] Steve Fretzin: That’s not what the prospect said Using their own words is always a key. I always am telling people always take notes. I know that your brain is, is, is, you know, empty and you can fill it with, with lots of, lots of things, but if you don’t have their exact words written down, sometimes it’s going to come across as something very different.
[00:08:57] Steve Fretzin: So powerful. I want to just mention to one of the tenants of sales free selling, which is the system I’ve been teaching for a number of years. Is up front contracts up front agendas where we talk about at the end of the meeting, you know, Walt, one of a couple of things is going to happen. We’re going to decide this is a great fit.
[00:09:14] Steve Fretzin: We want to proceed forward and continue the conversation or move forward to work together. On the other hand, if it’s not a fit, we can be honest with each other and just be straight and just tell it like it is and are you okay with, with that kind of a way to run this meeting and walk? Oh, sure. That sounds great.
[00:09:27] Steve Fretzin: Then at the end of the meeting, when the person says, well, give me some time to think about it, I then have the ability to say. You know, kind of early on in the meeting while we had agreed on one of these two directions, you know, can we stick with that and pick one? And that way it is a next step moving forward, or I start to identify either the objection or move someone to a no if it really isn’t for them or it isn’t the right timing.
[00:09:48] Steve Fretzin: That way I’m not chasing after a bunch of maybes, think about it and I’ll get back to you. And there’s a lot of stuff that goes on after that between those two moments, but that’s really critical. From my perspective of not chasing after people that are really serious about taking action on their problems.
[00:10:05] Steve Fretzin: So, Shuki, do you have anything else to add to this? Yeah, one word confidence,
[00:10:10] Chuki Obiyo: right? You know, it’s interesting. Peter Drucker, the business strategist. I mean, he has this point about how culture eats strategy for breakfast, but when you really drill down and you think about that psychology, our mindset eats both strategy and culture for breakfast, lunch, dinner.
[00:10:28] Chuki Obiyo: I mean, just, it’s indefatigable how important confidence is. So above and beyond some of the tactics to follow up. Your ability to inspire and communicate confidence. Oftentimes, the client contact will follow up with you. The prospect will follow up with you with that registered confidence. That’s part of the communication
[00:10:46] Steve Fretzin: relationship that you have with them.
[00:10:48] Steve Fretzin: Liz, your final thoughts on this? Yep. One little,
[00:10:50] Liz Wendling: another C word on top of Chuki’s is commitment. How amazing that you can communicate how committed you are to a firm or an attorney to staying in touch, to staying in communication with someone. So confidence. As well as I’m conveying commitment to you that we do care.
[00:11:10] Liz Wendling: We don’t just splash it on our website. I’m going to show you with my words and my actions, how much we are committed to what we say.
[00:11:19] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, I appreciate the C words and the F words, Liz. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I got so many more. Oh, my Lord. You have a couple of B words we can hear. I mean, what’s next? Very interesting.
[00:11:29] Steve Fretzin: All right. Nice. It’s just development. There it is. Very good. Walt? Yeah.
[00:11:34] Walt Hampton: Just a quick riff off of what you shared, Steve, around the conversation and the upfront agreement, whether you use that format or not for having a conversation. People have objections and there’s only a limited number of objections.
[00:11:51] Walt Hampton: It’s not like, oh my God, they’ve objected or they’ve got pulled. There’s only about six of them or five of them. And if you can become a master at knowing what those are and leaning into them, and then when you see it go, Oh, good, it’s that one. And you can lean into it and actually handle it. You are so much more effective in your
[00:12:12] Steve Fretzin: conversation.
[00:12:13] Steve Fretzin: So good. Yeah. No doubt. No doubt. Well, listen, everybody, we are going to move on to our next question. Uh, this one from my good friend, Curbis. And it’s, it, it is, I think it does relate to time management. However, I want to take a different spin here. It’s really about how limited lawyers are by the billable hour and how can they get away from the billable hour.
[00:12:33] Steve Fretzin: And I want you guys to think creatively about that, whether that’s, um, you know, different ways to, to, to not be on the billable hour, or it’s different ways to be able to have more open time for business development and rainmaking and growth outside of just billing hours. So… Thinking strategically about that, um, I’d love to hear your take on.
[00:12:53] Steve Fretzin: How lawyers can get away from the billable hour and yeah, they want to do work that they enjoy, but sometimes lawyers are getting into the weeds on stuff they really don’t enjoy. And that’s really just, just, you know, not, it’s not where they, where they’re, you know, it’s like putting Michael Jordan on the bench, right?
[00:13:08] Steve Fretzin: You want Michael Jordan out front on the court. So Walt, what are your, what’s your take on that, on this question?
[00:13:14] Walt Hampton: It’s, it’s a, it’s a question that I’ve been hearing since I graduated in 1984. You know, it’s his perpetual hand wringing. So if I were to do my best Bob Newhart, uh, coaching at this. Just stop it.
[00:13:30] Walt Hampton: But beyond that, I think there are a couple of things. Number one, you alluded to this, stop taking everything in the door. Uh, I once had a conversation in a legal networking event where I said, you know, lawyers tend to take anything with a pulse and a checkbook. And one lawyer looked at me and he said, Oh, well, we don’t really require a pulse.
[00:13:47] Walt Hampton: You know, people just take garbage in the door. I want, I would rather Go skiing like I did yesterday, then work with people who are not going to pay me, or work that sucks my soul. Become much more discerning, become much clearer about what your work, your highest and best uses, and learn to say no. No is a complete sentence, and it’s a really good one.
[00:14:09] Walt Hampton: Number two, become more expensive. Boy, the billable hour is all over the place. But, you know, I once had trouble booking speaking gigs. I was a 7, 500 a gig speaker. And I got a coach from the national speakers association. And the guy said, you know what your problem is your price. I said, Oh my God, I’m too expensive.
[00:14:28] Walt Hampton: He said, no, you’re doing, you’re too cheap. People know what they’re going to get at 150 an hour. They know what they’re going to get for 300 an hour, become a premium product in the marketplace, for God’s sakes. And then I do encourage people to move forward, a value billing model. You’ve been in biz. Most of you have been in business long enough to know what the rough parameters of an engagement are.
[00:14:55] Walt Hampton: Take that parameter, bill it as a value proposition and um, enjoy a lot more sanity.
[00:15:03] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And just that, I just had a client real quick move. He’s a very famous divorce attorney, just moved to 1200 an hour. From a thousand and it like couldn’t have been a better decision. I mean, as far as nobody’s batting an eye at all, and he’s getting true, you know, even more and more value for the time that he, that he spends with, you know, the celebrities and the different people that they want the highest price, right?
[00:15:24] Steve Fretzin: That’s almost like a brown was bragging rights, right? So, David, you know, Walt
[00:15:30] David Ackert: covered so much of this, so I’m just going to touch on a couple of highlights here. So important to understand what your ideal client profile is, the kinds of clients you want to work with. Walt made that point brilliantly. You know, also lawyers rates tend to live at the intersection of fear and greed, right?
[00:15:48] David Ackert: It’s how much can I get away with charging? But I’m afraid that, you know, if I push this much further, I’m going to lose all my clients. And I just urge you. Throughout the history of your practice, think about it. Every time you’ve elevated your rates, has there really been this huge fallout of clients saying, that’s it, you crossed the threshold for me, you’re fired.
[00:16:06] David Ackert: It never happens, right? And we go through this consternation every time, and then we inch up our rates another 3%, 5%, maybe 10% if we’re feeling really aggressive. And then we’re like shocked that nobody fired us. Right. So really look to see, you know, maybe we’re not charging what we’re worth. If we’re having this internal dialogue of gosh, you know, the billable hour and I’m so trapped by this.
[00:16:29] David Ackert: And I guess I finally want to make 20% more money. I got to work 20% harder. That is really that thinking really lacks creativity again, higher wall. He knows a thing or 2 about this. He can talk you through it. And the last point I just want to make is don’t forget about alternative fee arrangements.
[00:16:42] David Ackert: Thanks. Right? There are blended rates. There are success fees. There are flat fees. There are a number of ways that you can Propose your services to a client. Of course, a lot of this is going to depend on the kind of practice, but you can propose your fees to a client that get you away from the billable hour.
[00:16:58] David Ackert: It feels like a win to them. And it’s probably going to be more profitable for you at the end of the day. You just have to get smart about how to construct that, how to propose it. And then it can start to be part of the things that you offer on your
[00:17:10] Steve Fretzin: menu. Terrific. Terrific. Any other final thoughts on that?
[00:17:13] Steve Fretzin: Chuki.
[00:17:14] David Ackert: I think Walt and David for sure make some excellent
[00:17:17] Chuki Obiyo: and practical points and folks, you know, hope you were taking notes. Steve’s point earlier about note taking. Just
[00:17:22] David Ackert: a, an additional point from an in house perspective, right? So being in a law firm, a global law firm environment, one of the things I would submit to all of us is, you got ways to develop relationships
[00:17:34] Chuki Obiyo: with other departments, right?
[00:17:37] Chuki Obiyo: So your ability to work really well with your CFO, your ability to work well with the marketing department, I think that gives you leverage. To then come up with some creative solutions to then go out the door to clients. So that would be my one input just in
[00:17:52] Steve Fretzin: the greater dynamic. Yeah. And I’ll put another one out for, for people that are in full service firms or that do multiple things, you know, why are you billing hours?
[00:18:01] Steve Fretzin: Maybe you should be bringing in business that your partners can bill and you get origination credit. We’re not even talking about one of the easiest ways to make money and build wealth and build client relationships is to be able to bring your firm to the front. And sell their services and you don’t have to sell the services.
[00:18:18] Steve Fretzin: I maybe misspoke there. It’s really about asking questions to identify what other needs your clients have. And I, I can’t tell you how many times I send my clients out to do this and they come back and say, all I had to do was call them up and say, Hey, and ask a couple of questions. And all I had, all this, all these matters and litigation thrown at me.
[00:18:36] Steve Fretzin: And I’ve got the best litigator in this office next to me here. And I’ve got the best IP attorney in the office over here and they’re bringing it. So how are we able to do make it rain and not have all that work on our plate? Well, that’s one of a dozen ways to do it, but it’s one that’s completely overlooked and it’s maybe the easiest way to get business next to maybe just upsell upselling your own services.
[00:18:57] Steve Fretzin: So, Walt, you want to add on to that?
[00:19:00] Walt Hampton: I so good, Steven, and it weaves in and out of conversations we’ve already had here about listening, about note taking the brilliance and marketing. And, you know, we have a very deep bench in the digital marketing world, but this is old school is. You do a lot of market research and Intel.
[00:19:21] Walt Hampton: What are your potential clients wants? What are their pain points in their work? Not at what you know, your client needs or perspective, but what their want is, what their pain, and the more we listen to that, and the more we’re, we reflect those words back in our outreach and our referral conversations and our conversations with prospective clients.
[00:19:47] Walt Hampton: They go. Oh, my God. How did you know? It’s because I was listening. And when you meet them there, you know, neuro linguistic programming 101, when you meet them, when you match in your mirror, what their pain points are at that level.
[00:20:05] Steve Fretzin: Fantastic. Did you
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[00:21:34] Steve Fretzin: You know, one other thing I’ll just mention about cross marketing is, so you’ve got a client, think of the client as the hub and then think about tentacles like an octopus coming out of that hub and you’re doing the commercial real estate. What are the other three areas that the client, the c e o, that you’re, that you’re working with, or the gc, what are the three other areas that align with commercial real estate?
[00:21:56] Steve Fretzin: Okay. Is that m and a? Is that litigation? Is it labor and employment? Right? What other transactions? Is it banking and finance? And those are the questions, you don’t have to know those areas of law. You don’t have to be, you know, an expert in those areas. You just need to have a few good questions in those areas to ask that could open up the floodgates of that business rolling into you.
[00:22:16] Steve Fretzin: And by the way, they might be absolutely miserable with the current firm they’re with. You just didn’t know that. And they’re giving all this work to other firms that they’d rather work with you and engage with you as the quarterback and deal with your firm for a bunch of stuff than have five different firms doing five different things.
[00:22:30] Steve Fretzin: Some of them are great. Some of them are terrible. Okay. So really good stuff there. Let’s move on. If that’s okay. I’ve got another question and this one is really, I mean, quite different than other questions that we’ve kind of talked about today and, and it’s really about specialization. How does a lawyer know when it’s time or why or when or how to be a specialist to really dig in and.
[00:23:00] Steve Fretzin: Um, and that’s, that’s a conundrum that lawyers have had and still have to this day and Walt is chomping at the bit. The Walt, what do you think about that?
[00:23:08] Walt Hampton: The answer is yesterday. Steve, was the right time. Okay. I don’t, this again, this makes, this is. Such a flag that I plant if today, God forbid, someone you loved had a medical problem, a child, a nephew, a niece, and it was an aortic year old son who collapsed on the floor.
[00:23:31] Walt Hampton: Do you go to a general practitioner,
[00:23:33] Steve Fretzin: people? You do not. If
[00:23:36] Walt Hampton: you have a kitchen you want to install, do you go to a, like a generalist? You go to the specialist. We as consumers, we always go narrow. And if you want to get away from the billable hour, if you want to charge premium prices, be the specialist. And focus on that area and go deep, you’ll make a lot of money and you’ll have a great life.
[00:24:01] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, and I think you’ll be memorable. I think the generalists and, you know, they’re just, it’s hard to even remember or think about like what they do, but everybody knows the specialists. Liz, you want to add on
[00:24:10] Liz Wendling: that? Yeah, Walt, excellent points. And most of my clients are all specialists. They do not do divorce, bankruptcy, personal injury.
[00:24:20] Liz Wendling: They are the family law firm in town, or they are the personal injury firm that people know. And when they hire me, we build that process around that. How do you speak to that without saying, we’re the best in town, we’re the greatest, you need to hire us? How do you convey that with every time the phone rings, every time you have a consultation, every time you tap out a quote unquote follow up email, all of that is baked out that matches that.
[00:24:48] Liz Wendling: So it isn’t just saying we’re a specialist in this, prove it to me when I call you for and when I show up and all of a sudden I am confirming in my mind, wow, they really are. Because you could say it all day long, but you want that client to say, Oh, gosh, this is the only place you need to go. This is who you need to talk to.
[00:25:08] Liz Wendling: But that has to be baked all the way into your practice from the very first phone
[00:25:11] Steve Fretzin: call. Alright, so let me play the lawyer devil advocate here, and that is, wait a second, I’ve got commercial real estate that I’m focused on, I’ve got some M& A transaction, I’ve got finance, and I’m doing, like, let’s say, even amounts of all those three, so no one knows at all what I do other than I’m a transactional attorney, okay?
[00:25:31] Steve Fretzin: And you guys are saying, wait a second, stop doing all that stuff and just focus on one. Are you saying don’t stop all that? So let’s get into how does someone maybe transition from being more of a, let’s say, transactional, you know, generalist to being a specialist. How long does that take? When did they do that?
[00:25:47] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, I, you can’t just flip a switch. There’s gotta be a little more structure around that. Walt and then David. Thank you
[00:25:55] Walt Hampton: for that. Cause I think it really lands the plane and grounds it in some reality. This business building takes time. Practice development takes time. Are you, I built five successful businesses and every one of them has taken, um, time and a dirty four letter word called work and.
[00:26:13] Walt Hampton: Within that time being very intentional about having a time horizon and a deadline for yourself for that transition, rather than just keeping it murky. So, I transitioned, um, in the middle of my 25 years from a civil litigation practice to a criminal defense practice, like, like complete transition. And I had lost the juice in the civil litigation.
[00:26:36] Walt Hampton: It was like watching paint dry on the side of a house on a cold winter day. It just was beginning to wear, wear me out. Um, and I have a short attention span and Criminal defense just seemed better. And so over a period of time with a very clear target date, I began to lean into the specialization around the criminal defense, getting the mentorship, getting the, building the infrastructure.
[00:27:01] Walt Hampton: And so having that clarity and moving in the direction early in my career, I have a coach who I’d worked with for 16 years. She said, feel the heat, Walt. I said, Tama, I have no idea what that means. What we all have is a gravitational pull to something that we like to, that we enjoy that lights us up, that we don’t get to the end of the week and we’re exhausted, that we get to Monday morning and we look forward to, that’s the area that we ought to be moving toward.
[00:27:30] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. That’s so important. If you’re miserable doing certain things, well, do the things you enjoy and lean into it. David?
[00:27:37] David Ackert: I want to underscore something we said earlier, which is that this is all baby steps. Everything in practice growth comes down to baby steps. And if you find yourself up against a yes, but what about kind of objection that that Steve illustrated earlier, you know, I’ve got already I’ve got this practice and it’s.
[00:27:55] David Ackert: Rod and Emma Generalist and, you know, what about all of those people? If you find those words popping into your head, give Walt a call, give Steve a call, give Liz a call, work with a coach. Just spend a few hours talking to somebody about what those baby steps might look like. It will motivate you to take them.
[00:28:11] David Ackert: And then ultimately what you’re going to find is, maybe in six months, maybe in nine months, sure enough, there’s a pocket of your community that’s starting to think of you as a specialist in X or Y. You didn’t flip a switch. There are no switches to flip, folks. No shortcuts here. You’ve got to do the work, as Mould says.
[00:28:30] David Ackert: But you, if you can just work with someone to help you break it down into reasonable, digestible components, then you can knock them down one at a time.
[00:28:39] Steve Fretzin: Right on the money list. Oh, I didn’t know my hand was
[00:28:43] Liz Wendling: up. Oh, your hand was up. Chooky. Yeah, it was. I’ll just say that. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. And if you specialize in three areas, that it’s not to say you have to pick one.
[00:28:53] Liz Wendling: You could be, you could be really darn good in three areas. So don’t beat yourself up, but at some point, like Walt said, there’s a time when you have to stop and say, all right, this isn’t lighting me up anymore. This does. And if you’re willing to maybe on the two that you’re okay with, be a little more discerning about who you take on.
[00:29:14] Liz Wendling: So you can focus on the one that really does light you up. If you’re a happy lawyer inside that comes out, then you
[00:29:22] Steve Fretzin: have your golden right on Chuki.
[00:29:25] Chuki Obiyo: That’s interesting. So Steve, I think we’re covering all parts of the alphabet here. So we have the words to Liz’s point, discernment. We’ve got C words.
[00:29:35] Liz Wendling: Let me throw a couple, the whole
[00:29:36] Steve Fretzin: alphabet, the
[00:29:37] David Ackert: whole out.
[00:29:38] David Ackert: So let’s, why don’t we sort
[00:29:39] Chuki Obiyo: of route it up with two M words? Mentorship, And mastermind group as it relates to your journey on specialization, right? So find good mentors and Steve, I know this is something that you’re absolutely incomparable at the ability with your round tables to provide a mentorship environment for.
[00:29:57] Chuki Obiyo: Different attorneys
[00:29:58] David Ackert: really
[00:29:58] Chuki Obiyo: across practices. So I would say that’s one M word. And then mastermind group, right? So even outside of your organization, are there individuals that you could find, you know, maybe even a LinkedIn professional network you can tap into digitally to start to
[00:30:10] David Ackert: build up those muscles
[00:30:12] Chuki Obiyo: around specialization?
[00:30:15] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, I’ll give a quick example. I was, I, so I run these, these five rainmaker round tables. Okay. And it’s, it’s a different lawyer of a different practice area in a group. So there’s no competition. I’m talking to, I played a paddle match last night, kicked his, kicked some butt. And I’m talking to a lawyer that was with another team who’s a personal injury attorney.
[00:30:33] Steve Fretzin: I said, you know, I’m thinking about doing personal injury mastermind, like round table for, for personal injury attorney. And he’s like, where do I sign? Like it was not even, he didn’t even like, there was no pause. It was like, where do I sign? I want to hear what all these other folks are doing. I want to be in that kind of environment with those people that are specialists and what they’re doing and how I can learn from them.
[00:30:54] Steve Fretzin: They can learn from me. And it just really just proved out that exact point about specialization and how, uh, you know, how valuable it can be when it’s done properly. From my perspective, David, maybe you chime in on this. I did not start out as a specialist in legal. I played in the, in the area for a year, a year and a half, saw the need and also saw that what my systems were and what I was doing really aligned well with the legal community and the lawyer’s mindsets.
[00:31:20] Steve Fretzin: What they wanted to be was not salesman. So I’m, I was training them to not do that and really went well. I’d like to say, I just pushed all my chips in day one and just made a decision cause I saw opportunity, not at all the case. It like to David’s point, I took some baby steps to play in the feet, play in that sport a little bit, saw that there was a need and saw that I enjoyed it and saw that this is a very smart, nice group of people that I could really work with and then push the chips in once I felt I had enough momentum,
[00:31:48] David Ackert: David.
[00:31:49] David Ackert: Yeah, I would just say, you know, I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that business is ultimately a co creation exercise, right? You edge your chips in, Steve, and then you see how the chips fall, right? And some of that is out of your control. That’s just… How the current is going to flow and you got to figure out what that is so you can swim with the current and I just, uh, I had a similar experience.
[00:32:10] David Ackert: I started off just in professional services, right? We were servicing all the verticals and sure enough, legal pulled ahead in terms of resonating with what we were offering. So we doubled down on that. We specialized in that. Now that we’ve grown to a certain point, we’re starting to open it back up for scale.
[00:32:26] David Ackert: But if I hadn’t specialized, we never would have gotten to this point. And, you know, that was 15
[00:32:30] Steve Fretzin: years ago. Yeah. So talk, you know, Talk with other lawyers, talk with mentors, coaches, and people that are specialists, find out how they did it, hear their stories, and I think it’s going to really help you make that decision.
[00:32:43] Steve Fretzin: We’ve got about five minutes left, and I, I, we’ve got about three or four questions in front of us, and we’re not going to get to them all. So I just want to wrap up with one that I thought was really interesting. And we got to keep our answers tight because this could take us we could spend an hour or 10 on this subject.
[00:33:00] Steve Fretzin: Are you guys so just letting you know, right up front. There are so many ways to do business development and marketing and branding and thought leadership and all that stuff. I mean, blogging, you know, podcasts, your website, I mean. So one of the lawyers, and I, I apologize, I didn’t write the name down. I think it might’ve been, uh, Carlo, but it was, what’s the best ROI from like everything?
[00:33:22] Steve Fretzin: And I know that you guys, there, there’s a lot of caveats to that, but if you could pick one thing that you say, look, in my experience working with attorneys, this is the best way they can grow business with the best ROI today, tomorrow, this year. Nobody wants to answer that. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. No, no. I’m joking.
[00:33:39] Steve Fretzin: Oh, I think Walt was going to attack me through the, uh, through the computer. So let’s go Walt and then Liz. So I have a
[00:33:45] Walt Hampton: biased word speaking because I’m a speaker. Get in front of rooms, get in front of as many rooms, real and virtual as you possibly can. When you’re in front of a room, people think, you know, something, even when you don’t, they think you’re an expert, get in front of lots of rooms and speak on the thing that lights you up and the clients will come to you.
[00:34:03] Steve Fretzin: And I would add one thing to that real quick before we go to Liz and then, then David is don’t try to speak to where you’re, where you’re, where the clients are. If you, if you’re speaking to a room full of competitors, and I know there’s a lot of lawyers that do that, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but if that’s how you’re like expecting to get business, maybe consider if you’re speaking on IP, where are the GCs, where are the CEOs, where are the CIOs?
[00:34:25] Steve Fretzin: Look at and then who can put, put people around you, like who can set up that room for you with all the right people. I did a presentation, uh, recently for Chicago title. Everyone in the room was a lawyer. Everyone in the room is looking for business. It couldn’t have been like a better place for me to present.
[00:34:41] Steve Fretzin: Okay. So, but exactly, Walt, great stuff. Let’s go to Liz, then David, then Shuki. So
[00:34:45] Liz Wendling: I’m going to give you a little bit of a smart ass answer. It’s the activity you will do. There is no best, there’s no one best exercise to lose weight, or there’s not one best bicep exercise at the gym. It’s the one you’ll do consistently, the one you do joyfully, the one you will do that moves the needle in your practice.
[00:35:04] Liz Wendling: Find one or two that lights you up, that you like, that you know you can stick to, and watch what happens to your bottom line.
[00:35:11] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, you hate writing, so why are you forcing yourself to write? Right, right. Exactly. Okay, good. David?
[00:35:17] David Ackert: Yeah, and, uh, you know, again, I think Walt’s comment is great, but I happen to be married to a lawyer who can lean toward introversion, and she would hate that answer, right?
[00:35:25] David Ackert: She’s like, I, I will not speak, that is not me. So, I’m, I’m, I’m taking a page out of Liz’s book here. Uh, the thing that you will do, play to your strength, because that’s what you will do. The thing that feels good after you’ve accomplished it, that bolsters that, that confidence that Chunky talks about, right?
[00:35:41] David Ackert: So, take a moment, think about it, what is it that I’m actually pretty good at, and I don’t mind doing, and that’s what you want to lean into, because ultimately it has to be sustainable, uh, per Liz.
[00:35:52] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, right on the money. Chuki?
[00:35:54] Chuki Obiyo: Look, uh, Liz’s part was so profound, I’m rendered speechless.
[00:36:00] Steve Fretzin: I find that hard to believe.
[00:36:02] Steve Fretzin: You’re never speechless. Come on. I’m going to go a little different direction, and it’s, and it’s, it’s going against, it, it may not be something a lawyer’s comfortable with, but if we all agree that business development is a learned skill. It is not something people are born with. I know that as a natural rainmaker, that’s a bunch of BS.
[00:36:21] Steve Fretzin: Okay. There are people that have different personalities and that are more lively than other people. But ultimately what I have found for lawyers is to go after the low hanging fruit, go after where the business is. And the saddest thing is when I’m talking to a lawyer who might have a million dollar book or more.
[00:36:36] Steve Fretzin: And with that evaluation, we realized there’s a, another million dollars sitting on a table stacked up with bills right in front of him or her. And he or she has been walking around that table for years. Walk into the table, that table is cross marketing, that table is upselling your existing clients, and that table is getting introductions to other GCs, CEOs, whomever, from the clients that love you, they think you’re great, they do nothing but gloat about you, and yet you’re not comfortable asking them to introduce you to people that you can also make happy?
[00:37:09] Steve Fretzin: That comes down to systems and language that you don’t have. Get those systems and language from me, from Liz, from Walt, from David, from Juki, and start taking that action. And here’s what you’re going to find. This is my clients say this time and time again. It was hard for me to do. It was hard for me to bring it up.
[00:37:25] Steve Fretzin: It was hard for me to… I couldn’t believe how much they wanted to give me. I can’t believe how accepting and open. They didn’t even realize I needed or wanted any other business. They thought I was busy. So it’s that simple to go after the low hanging fruit, and that’s where a lot of the business can be found.
[00:37:41] Steve Fretzin: Easily, quickly, it might not even take you any time to do because you’re already on the phone with that client, you know, whatever, three times a week. All right, guys, Walt, final thoughts. Yes, just ripping
[00:37:52] Walt Hampton: off of what you and David just shared. David, I’m an introvert, a highly compensating introvert. Half of trial lawyers are highly compensating introverts.
[00:38:01] Walt Hampton: Um, and if you just focus on one thing, it’s about building relationships, even if it’s one at a time, even if you go into a networking event and have one conversation, creating an amazing business is about having amazing relationships.
[00:38:20] Steve Fretzin: Awesome. Final thoughts on that. Liz final thoughts. Generally, we’re wrapping things up, up using the
[00:38:25] Liz Wendling: F word, but I’ll end it there on
[00:38:29] Steve Fretzin: the other.
[00:38:30] Steve Fretzin: The other F word. Ah, all right, David. I’m just going to be
[00:38:35] David Ackert: contrarian and say, stop using the F word follow up, but don’t stop doing it. It’s Oh, good point. Good for us. So key to make sure that again, you take responsibility for the business results you want to bring into your practice. It’s all on you.
[00:38:51] Walt Hampton: Yeah. I’m going to use another F word. Don’t forget fun. Yeah. You know, we’re not, we’re, we’re not having fun. We’re doing something wrong. We’re not leaning in and being lit up by what we get, what we have the privilege of doing in this great profession. Then we need to find that place because when we’re lit up and filled with joy and serving in the world in a big way, we are unstoppable.
[00:39:14] Walt Hampton: Awesome.
[00:39:14] Steve Fretzin: Chuki, final thoughts. I think in the spirit of that,
[00:39:18] David Ackert: it doesn’t matter what you practice
[00:39:20] Chuki Obiyo: litigation transactions. Practice gratitude. Gratitude
[00:39:24] David Ackert: is undefeated, so
[00:39:25] Chuki Obiyo: that would be my…
[00:39:27] Steve Fretzin: thought, yeah. Really awesome. Well, listen, I want to thank my sponsors, uh, Legalese, Practice Panther, and Money Penny. I want to thank my panelists, Walt, Shuki, David, and Liz.
[00:39:36] Steve Fretzin: I want to thank the, the, the people that were so willing to spend their time with us today to take an hour and really focus on learning business development and asking some great questions and, and paying attention and taking notes, hopefully, right? If you didn’t take notes, then you didn’t, then you really weren’t listening because we told you to.
[00:39:53] Steve Fretzin: And that there’s more of these to come. We’re doing, um, coaches corners, uh, for another few months. We’ve got marketing Mavericks coming up with the Gisakalakis, Jocelyn Brumbaugh and Jared Correa. If you’re a fan of the legal talk network, you know, those folks, and they’re just the tip of the spear as it relates to marketing excellence in legal.
[00:40:11] Steve Fretzin: And, uh, as you guys know, this show is all about helping you to be that lawyer, someone who’s confident organized in a skilled rainmaker. Thank you all for spending some time with us. Have a great. 2023, and we’ll see you all very soon. Take care, everybody. Take me well.
[00:40:30] Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be That Lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website Fretzin. com for additional information and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes.