November 5, 2014

Business Development for Lawyers and Other Service Providers

Business Development for Lawyers and Other Service Providers

Professional Services Rainmaking:  Is it Possible for You?

Often, when I talk to lawyers, accountants and business managers about rainmaking, they become fearful and negative.  I constantly hear excuses that they’re too busy with day-to-day activities to commit to business development, and “the billable hours are too precious to give up.”  After separating the truths and myths of rainmaking, we argue that lack of time is, well, just another excuse.  We also break down other self-imposed obstacles.

Confidence and Strategically Approaching Rainmaking

One of the main objections that I hear when it comes to rainmaking is that you need a certain type of personality to be successful.  Lawyers, for instance, tell me that they don’t have a salesperson in them or a larger than life presence to fully engage others right off the bat.  I tell them “be yourself,” and use what works for you in other areas of your life to succeed in rainmaking.  There are some people who are put off by people who try hard to command a room’s presence.  Be confident and secure in who you are and convey that to someone who is attracted to your style.

Instead of “pitching” services, professional service providers need to focus on connecting with potential clients on an individual level.  Following up with a lunch (after an initial meeting in a group setting) will help you identify potential issues and allow you to develop a strategy akin to a “meeting of the minds.”  Asking good questions, engaging and listening to potential clients are great habits of successful rainmakers.

Incorporating business development into your every day life helps shift the paradigm that you have to carve out additional time, a limited resource, to focus on rainmaking.  Over time, with proper accountability measures and coaching in place, you’ll realize successes and build on them.  Many service providers complain to me that they don’t have time to network.  Stop using the same excuses over an over.  Acknowledge that it is an excuse, and shift the paradigm.  Start practicing your listening and networking skills with close confidantes and business development professionals who work with your firm, and then roll them out to your prospects.  Be open to tweaking them a bit.  Consider “team networking” with non-competing professionals – especially those types of professionals your own clients might need – like accountants, agents and brokers.

Promote Your Success

The old adage, ‘If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?’ springs to mind.  Find your style, and promote your successes instead of focusing on what you and your firm can’t do.  Further, if you can’t differentiate yourself to potential clients, then you’re going to be another service provider in a sea of service providers.   Consider doing a SWOT analysis and other strategic assessments to uncover your competitive advantages.

The Little Things

Make sure you’re discussing all the ins and outs of your practice with clients and potential clients.  Allow them to invest in your success.  Clients want you to be transparent about billing rates, growth strategies, and communication methods and frequency.  Be proactive.  Don’t wait until a client pushes you for answers.  Bring these issues to the forefront to make it clear that you want the best possible relationship with your clients.  This will enhance your reputation and lead to great “word of mouth” marketing.

Success breeds success.  Once you get the first bite of business, it’s going to become darn near impossible to stop it.

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