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It's raining clients

Posted on July 29, 2015 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

   The annual Raindance conference was held earlier this month in Chicago. If you weren’t there to participate in the dance and are feeling a little high and dry, the key themes this year may at least get your toes tapping. Client teams continue to be seen as a good way to generate additional revenue from existing clients. But choosing clients for the teams that align with the firm’s strategic objectives is a critical success factor. Another important thing to have on your dance card is regular interactions and planning meetings with clients. Make them a part of your team and keep working on the relationship.

I'm pretty sure my clients love me

Posted on July 28, 2015 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Most small to mid-sized companies use on average three to five law firms. Larger companies use even more. So, each and every day you are being compared to your competitors. Knowing how you compare to them in terms of your service and client satisfaction is good to know. You can get this information in a variety of ways and use it to bring in even more business from the client. Chances are, just by taking the time to ask how you are doing will set you apart from your competition.

 

Client interviews

One way to get this feedback is through client interviews. The best way to get truly unbiased, no-holds-barred information from a client is to send in someone to interview the client other than the lawyer who works with the client or a managing partner from the firm. Using someone who is not involved in the relationship to do the interview will allow the client to be perfectly honest about the work and service being performed. It is much more comfortable for people to say what they think if they are not talking to the individual who is directly providing the service or ultimately responsible for the legal work and the relationship.

 

Getting this feedback can be uncomfortable for the lawyers and the law firm. It is like the dreaded performance review. A million things go through your mind about the good, the bad and the ugly that have occurred over the course of the relationship. But the great thing is once this dialogue is started, the ways you can not only improve with this client, but all clients will be identified. Generally, there will be a lot of positive feedback, which affirms that you are on the right track. Plus, clients love it. Surprisingly, not many firms take the time to do this. Typically the ones that conduct client interviews try to get the feedback by using the lawyer who works with the client, which makes it awkward for both parties.

 

One of the benefits of this approach, other than finding out what is going right and what might be done differently, is insight into additional legal services that your firm can provide. Once a client starts talking, if the questions are asked correctly, they will provide all kinds of insight into things that are troubling to them. You will find new areas where you can help and make your relationship with them even stronger.

 

Peer discussion groups

 

Another way to get feedback is through peer-to-peer discussions. In the technology world, these are now being used as virtual focus groups and are called “learning communities.” This process involves identifying clients that are either using your firm for one specific type of law or are in similar industries. They are brought together “virtually” to discuss topics they identify that relate to legal services and outside providers they use for these services. The discussion is facilitated much like a focus group and great insight is shared relative to likes and dislikes with current legal service providers. Your firm is viewed as the one that cared enough to bring this group together and get this insight. The clients typically fully embrace the idea because they like talking to their peers about similar issues and successes. You will benefit by listening to the discussion and identifying either ways you can improve or other areas where you can help.

 

Electronic surveys

 

A third way to get feedback is a simple online survey once a big project, case or matter is closed; it can be just two or three questions about how things went with the people involved. You aren’t asking about the outcome of the case, because that could be good or bad. You are asking about the service and the relationship and verifying that the client fully understands the outcome. Understanding generally aligns with satisfaction. Clients who don’t understand, because the attorney didn’t take the time to fully explain an unanticipated outcome, are generally less satisfied. If the client understands, even a less than desirable outcome results in higher levels of satisfaction with the attorney-client relationship.

 

Using all these methods is the best way to approach feedback. Some are better suited for larger clients, while others should be used for the smaller clients as they grow into larger ones. But, regardless, this is not something you want to be uncertain about because, after all, you are in the room with your competitors every day. Set yourself apart by getting feedback and making your relationship stronger. Be sure your clients love you, not just pretty sure.•

 

I believe in referrals

Posted on July 20, 2015 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

And online searches

A recent study by FindLaw determined that the Internet was used 38% of the time by both companies and individuals as the first source to find an attorney. Also consider that 57% of all corporate buying decisions are now made online before the decision-maker contacts the provider. “People” make buying decisions whether they work for a corporation or are an individual purchaser. And if these people are using websites, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other online resources, not being there may mean that you might be missing 38% of the business you could be getting.

 

Discover the problem

Posted on July 16, 2015 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

  Allow time for the journey

 

There is no template or boiler plate answer for what a firm should do to improve their marketing and business development. It takes time to determine what is working and what is not. The process is much like the one an attorney uses to uncover or solve a legal problem. Having the patience to go through the process to discover why you aren't getting the work you think you want or why key clients have left to go elsewhere will lead to a much better plan and strategy for your firm. There unfortunately is no McLaw solution.

 

Please stop talking

Posted on July 14, 2015 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

   Recently a general counsel told me that as a young associate at a law firm he was very excited to be asked to attend his first meeting with a client. He said after the meeting the partner who was with him called him aside and said, “You need to shut up.” He was quite offended at the time, but in hindsight he believes it was some of the best advice he ever received.


Listening is a skill that is necessary to find out what is really going on with your clients or prospects. Unless you really listen to what they are saying you will never be able to help them. To know how to listen to someone else, keep in mind how you would like someone to listen to you. How would you like them to help solve your problem?


Review the list below and evaluate your listening skills.


Maintain eye contact and show that you are totally focused on what they are telling you.


Ask engaging questions such as, “What happened then.” “What did you say?”


Don’t try to think about what you are going to say next. In fact, sometimes the “just shut up” strategy can be a good one. It lets the speaker think about more information they may want to add.


Wait until the speaker has completely finished before responding to what has been said.


Don’t make assumptions that you know what they are thinking. Ask for clarity.


Paraphrase their points to make sure you understand.


Don’t immediately impose your solutions or talk about how you have already solved their problem. They want to feel like you are helping them by fully understanding their unique situation and drawing upon your experience to help them with it.


Only offer comparisons if asked. You don’t want to make them feel like their situation is so common that you’ve seen it dozens of times and it is easy to resolve. This will only make them feel foolish for not figuring it out on their own.


In many cases you will hear the solution loud and clear if you stop talking and start doing a better job of listening. It shows respect, and a little silence after you have asked a question shows that you have probably hit the nail on the head and will get the work you set out to obtain.

 

Producing content takes too much time

Posted on July 10, 2015 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

   Partnerships solve this problem


With good intentions in place, many firms start down the path of working to produce monthly newsletters, client alerts, blog posts, eBook, or other downloadable content. Then the realization occurs that someone is going to have to write this stuff…..and me, well, I have client work to do. An idea to consider is partnering to provide content. Choosing the right partner and brining the right goods to the table and you both can benefit.

 

Lateral partner integration

Posted on July 8, 2015 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

   It takes a village.


Finding attorneys who want to join your firm is a difficult process and it doesn't start with the first interview. Eric Dewey of Group Dewey Consulting says it should start well before that by looking strategically at what you are hoping to accomplish with the lateral hire and how you plan to integrate the attorney into your firm. It probably isn't going to work very well if you just rely on the lateral trying to bring over their clients or engaging with others in your firm to cross-sell his or her services. Develop your plan long before you have that first conversation with a prospective candidate

Whitepapers or eBooks: What is the difference?

Posted on July 6, 2015 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

  Are Whitepapers dead?


 

Content that is of interest to your target audience positions you as a thought leader and a reliable resource when the need arises for your services. You want to remain top of mind with your client and prospect base. There are many ways to do this, but recently Social Times reports that the whole idea of whitepapers seems to be one of the least preferred methods of getting information. EBooks on the other hand, seem to be on the rise. My view is that the “old” whitepaper can easily be turned into an eBook once you understand the differences and similarities.


 

I asked a journalist recently what he thought about this idea of people not wanting whitepapers. His answer was that no one ever wanted the ones that lawyers wrote and they still don’t. Now, you can chuckle at this or be offended, but it is probably true. So, let’s have a look at what you can do to turn those whitepapers into eBook, or produce some eBooks that will take you off the black list with your potential readers.


 

EBooks tend to be shorter and more interactive than whitepapers. They aren’t Word documents or PDFs. They contain links to other content, videos, or multi-media information. They also typically focus on the “how-to” aspect of a subject.


 

EBooks are good because:

They are simple, short and easy to produce.

If done correctly, with the right graphics and interaction, they spread and are shared much more frequently than whitepapers.

Generally they are free and contact information is not collected.

You can promote them to drive traffic to your website. Include in your advertising a call to action to go to your website to get the free eBook on whatever the subject might be.

They are easy to read online because of the formatting.

 

Why whitepapers are less attractive:

They sound long and dull and academic.

Many times you have to provide contact information to get them. How many times have you seen or heard, download our whitepaper. Of course you have to fill out a form to get it.

Typically, there are no interactive components, charts, graphs, or other visuals to whitepapers. They look very sterile and boring.

 

Turn those whitepapers into eBooks or turn your latest information into an eBook. Sometimes a horse of a different color is all it takes to win the race.

Profile of the new rainmaker

Posted on July 1, 2015 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

      Minding the gap


Within the next several years, the most experienced and likely most profitable attorneys will be working their way out of practice and into retirement. Their mantra for developing business typically goes something like this, “Do good work and people will send work your way.” For the new generation, their mantra may be more like, “I have 300 followers on Twitter and I post something to my blog at least two times a week.” How do you bridge this gap to provide an easy transition for clients as well as firm leadership so that the firm continues to thrive? Good communication, client transition plans and good mentoring of younger partners are just a few things that need to be put into place.

 

Who are your competitors?

Posted on June 25, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

    Recent study says mid-size firms have it wrong.


Mid-size firms might be competing with the wrong competitor. And mid-size firms think that alternative fee arrangements will continue to grow, but the vast majority of their revenue is still coming from the traditional billable hour. Now there's some perplexing findings! Thomson Reuters Midsize Law Firm Survey explains it all. Or at least gives it a shot.


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