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Tips for Sales Conversations for Lawyers

 

Many of us know that in today’s market we need to be doing a better job at promoting ourselves.  We understand the logic that “sales” is now part of our job but we struggle with the reality of what that means and how to do it.

For many of us, the real problem lies with our deep rooted beliefs about “sales”.  What if “sales” was really about taking the time to find out what issues face our clients and then finding ways that we can help them?  Based on what works in other industries and what I have seen work in ours, I offer the following tips for having intentional conversations that lead to business:

1. Intentionally Connect

Open the door to more meaningful business conversations by establishing a personal connection with your prospects. Lawyers are notorious for keeping clients at arms length and taking a formal approach to relationships; thereby missing a chance to build rapport with clients or potential clients. Move beyond comments about the weather and time zones and take the time to find out what you might share in common with your prospect. This is the pathway to personal connection.  While it is true that some people are not interested in spending a lot of time having a friendly conversation, consider leading with more personal comments and leave it to them to make the switch in the conversation to business.
Tip:  “People like people who like them and people who are like them.”  Find something you share in common with your prospect.  Identify something you genuinely like about them or their approach and reflect it back in a casual conversation.  You will be amazed by how quickly this fosters connection.


2. Find Your Relevance – Be Curious About Their Unique Issues

As lawyers it has been drilled into us to never ask a question we do not know the answer to. Although this approach may be essential for the courtroom, it is a major obstacle to succeeding at sales conversations. Don’t assume you know what your prospect needs or that you have a generic solution that is relevant to them. Be genuinely curious about them and ask open ended questions.  They hold the key to your relevance so shouldn’t you take the time to hear what they have to say?  Furthermore, by showing you care about what concerns them, you will gain their trust and stand out from the competition as a true trusted advisor.
Tip:  Put the focus on them by asking open ended questions that begin with “how” and “what” which will illicit more useful information and help your client frame their issues.  This is what will set you apart as a true trusted advisor. For examples of effective questions, see Irene Leonard’s blog post here.

 

3. Show Them (Don’t tell them) You Are The Right Person For The Job

Once you have led your client to frame their real issues, offer some preliminary comments on how you can help them.  This is also a chance for you to identify why you are uniquely positioned for the work and provide them assurances that they can rely on you.  Use concrete examples from your past experiences to help them understand what you can offer. Through observations and intelligent questions, show them that you understand their industry, their business and the challenges they face.
Tip:  Preparation is key.  If you have the opportunity, research in advance to understand the issues your prospect may be facing.  Do not limit your comments to a narrow area of law without some knowledge of the context.  Ensure you have some understanding of the broader business issues at play. 

 

4. Overcome Obstacles

There may be reasons that are getting in the way of your prospect sending you work.  Use curiosity and open-ended questions to uncover these obstacles. These questions will not always be easy but if you have managed to create a trusting environment through the above steps, your prospect will most likely welcome the opportunity for a frank discussion with you.
Tip:  Consider coming right out and asking “Are there any obstacles keeping us from working together?” or “How can I help you take the next step?” or “What issues are you facing internally that might prevent you from getting my help?”

See Jamie Pennington’s post entitled Seven Questions That Get You Work“.

 

5. Follow Up: Feed Don’t Chase

It is estimated that lawyers leave about 80% of work in the pipeline due to their failure to follow up in a meaningful way with prospects.  See SC&C’s blog post here.  If you have followed the above steps you will have a wide variety of potential reasons to get in touch with your clients. Think of follow up as “feeding” not “chasing”.  Ensure that your follow up is about feeding your prospects with information of interest to them (see #3 above).

Tip:  There are many ways of following up including connecting on LinkedIn, sending them an article or an update with a personal note, or getting in touch with them before a conference you are attending.  Take every occasion to connect.  On average, it takes between 5 and 12 “touches” before a prospect becomes a client.

 

About SC&C: Our Team of coaches, facilitators and trainers, work with lawyers and firms to build their capacity to bring in bigger and better business, leading to a more profitable and satisfying practice. Based in Canada, with ties around the world, we can help you where you are to build the international clientele that you want. Contact us at info@sccignites.com.

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