Clients ask me questions and, from time to time, I’ll post the question and my response. Here is one:
Question: Should I take a prospective client who wants me to discount my price by 25%?
Response: You must first be sure that your price is competitive (is within the market for your service, your geography and your type of practice). If you are, you might want to be a few dollars lower if you’re new to the practice of law … but not much. (more…)
Question: How are clients kept with a firm when a lawyer retires?
This is a classic and difficult problem for many law and professional firms. Typically 10% of the lawyers bring in 80% of the business. When the rainmakers hit 65, they slow down, and their referral sources retire. Meanwhile, the next generation of partners has been accustomed to inheriting business and has no marketing skills.
This is usually when I get a call.
Firms must start with the premise that clients are a firm asset, and not a partner’s personal asset. I have advised law firms to:
– Have the rainmakers introduce younger partners to their client contacts
– Build teams around the top 20 clients, and to let the client know they have a team.
– Actively start cross-selling the top 20 clients. For more info see Larry Bodine’s webinar: Best Practices Of Cross Marketing and Selling New Services To Clients
– Create a business/strategic plan for the firm
– Compose a strategic marketing plan built around the top industries in which the firm has clients.
– Train the lawyers to go after target businesses and have each lawyer compose a personal marketing plan. Those who don’t make the effort have their pay docked at review time. Those who get results get bonuses.
– Don’t make associates partners unless they have a book of business; don’t hire associates unless they have business development skills.
– Require everyone on the management committee to be rainmakers. If they can’t bring in enough business to feed themselves and a platoon of associates, demote them off the committee.
And that’s just for starters.
Here’s a new one: Create a client profile, the profile for your ideal client. Then, create a marketing plan that focuses just on your target market, not everyone. Then, go get ’em! Increase your revenue by five and six figures while everyone else is sitting still, wondering how you flew so high!
Client profile answers these questions:
What characteristics describe your ideal client?
What is your client’s occupation?
What are their demographics?
What is their response to coaching?
How do you know when it’s a “fit”?
Number of clients.
Weeks of coaching.
Other profit centers?
If you want to be successful by choice not by chance, you have to arrange your priorities in such a way that you have time to do the necessary outreach, the necessary article writing, the necessary speaking, the necessary networking and the like in order to let the world know that you exist. Beyond just existing, the world must know what you do; and beyond just what you do (a features element), the world must know what you can do for them (benefit orientation). One way to implement this is to do is look at your calendar, reserve one or one and a half hours three or four times a week for these efforts.
Yes, this does cost something. But, realistically, you are leveraging skills of others at a cost of $X and charging that work out at your billable rate. The profit to you is substantial ($Y-$X) while at the same time getting something done that is very important to your future pipeline of work.
A recent discussion on the ABA’s Solosez concerning whether to lick a stamp and put it on an envelope or purchase postage electronically (franking) was of interest. And, one of the participants, Becki Fahle, of San Antonio, TX, gave me permission to quote her:
There are very good reasons to use stamps rather than franking: (more…)
A law firm has created and is running an ad campaign that challenges the billable hour. Larry Bodine writes about it.
In marketing, the standard advice is “be different.” McGuire Woods certainly will be that with its ad campaign and may just succeed in increasing. Some years ago, Ross Fishman used this technique (be different) to create a large buzz when his firm “guaranteed” that people would be satisfied with the service they received from the firm. Today, that firm has grown substantially, in part, because of the very successful ad campaign. The offering of the campaign was so different that business publications like Wall Street Journal, et al, picked it and ran news stories about the campaign and the firm.
Now that’s getting a “bang for your buck!”
“… coaches work one-on-one with a select few who, with some tailored training and support, break through to higher levels of achievement. The focus of the coaching is to shape the raw material of attorneys’ capability into the proven experience of skilled service providers who know how to keep existing business and expand and develop new opportunities at the same time. In other words, to work with motivated professionals to make them into full equity partners.” See more by Felice Wagner on the qualities and value of coaches and the coaching process.
When you have to bend on the price you quote a client, be sure you first list the things you do for the client for that price. Then, when you lower your price in order to respond to the client’s request (based on your competition), take some of those things off the table. Thus, you are not really “lowering the price.” You’re adjusting the price to fit the appropriate level based on the service to be delivered. (more…)
Clients stay with lawyers because of trust. And trust is built by responding to clients’ needs and wants. Losing a client is very simple: Don’t respond to their calls and requests!
See the March 20th comment by Tom Kane.
Have you ever gotten lost in “voice mail hell”?
Have you ever wondered why you have to wait so long for someone to answer your phone call?
Here’s one example of a very upset customer: (more…)