I often get frustrated when I hear sales and rainmaking gurus tell you the secret to great sales is to “stop selling” – which they clearly don’t mean for business development at a law firm. What they do mean is to focus on having a thoughtful conversation with potential clients about what their needs and pain points are so that you can then explain how to alleviate their deepest, darkest problems. This approach allows you to adroitly articulate the unique value that you are offering, and stand apart from other lawyers who talk endlessly about their own skill set without any idea as whether a potential client cares or not. Business development at a law firm requires a more sophisticated approach.
But it’s one thing to tell lawyers to do this, it’s another to execute it successfully. One thing I’ve learned from sales professionals over the years is that many of them excel by using scripting techniques, building an elaborate verbal toolkit of words, phrases, questions and arguments for overcoming objections. These techniques allow you to present your best, most professional self, appearing intelligent, diplomatic and persuasive. In this sense, excellent salespersons are not unlike the best attorney negotiators; both use elaborate strategy and oratory to accomplish a specific task.
What would be a good example of questions you could ask a potential client that will generate the kind of conversation which will let you stand out from the competition? Well, the SalesSells.com blog has a great post up today on how you can use open ended questions to initiate this kind of discussion (read it here: http://bit.ly/pCHBo6).
In particular, you could try the following kinds of questions:
What are some of the limitations of using this device?
Where are the bottlenecks in your processes?
What are the disadvantages of your current approach?
How does the delivery time of your current supplier influence your operational procedures?
Which comments or remarks do you get from your employees regarding the solution that’s in place now?
Why do your employees work so much overtime?
How hard is it to process large numbers with your current setup?
What are the most important changes you would like to carry out in the near future?
Try them out, and let me know if you find that you’ve improved your business development for your law firm.