Lawyers can’t sell — Why not?

In a recent article, I read a new reason given for why lawyers hate marketing and can’t "sell"! Larry Richard, a Ph.D. psychologist, J.D. and consultant, suggests that lawyers have little or no "resiliency." That’s why they cannot sell.

My wife used to be an executive for a large, metropolitan newspaper. She suggested that one gets 9 "no’s" for every "yes."  Thus, when an advertising customer would tell her that they were not interested in advertising in the newspaper ("no"), she viewed this as one more step on the ladder to the "yes" that she would ultimately receive.

That is resiliency, or fast rebounding from setbacks, something lawyers don’t possess according to Larry Richard. Not only does this impact their practice development efforts, it also impacts their leadership skills.

Lawyers will be defensive, get their feelings hurt easily when someone says "no" to them or criticizes them, and are quick to justify their actions.  I read this some time ago and put it aside to write this comment, but didn’t get to it until now.

As I write this, I am reminded of something that happened to me very recently. Someone criticized an action I took. My knee-jerk reaction was to be defensive, to justify and to feel hurt because I felt the criticism was not justified and uttered merely to make the other person feel more powerful!  That’s not the point. The point is that I fell right into the category that Larry Richard outlines … without realizing how close to his "line" I was/am.

That’s not to say that lawyers cannot sell or that lawyers cannot be leaders. There are plenty of examples to the contrary … very successful leaders and great rainmakers.  But, it is a challenge for all of us, some more than others.                                                                                               


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