7 Steps to Becoming a Rainmaker
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EVERY law practice, solo to large, is a business. EVERY business is a sales organization. Without sales, there is no business.
EVERY sale is person to person. The concept of 'B2B' is old and gone. EVERY service professional, including lawyers, sell themselves first. Whether you are a "rainmaking" partner or a junior associate, to survive in the age of legal disruption, you must learn to sell.
Though most lawyers become highly skilled in their practice area, many struggle with consistently converting prospects into paying clients. Learning how to sell yourself is one of the most valuable skills a lawyer can master.
In the sale of legal services, potential clients are seeking to protect or defend their interests. At the core, something about why they are even talking to you deeply matters to them as a person. Their company, job, family, possibly everything they have ever worked for may be on the line.
Your sales process actually begins during the usually free "Initial Consultation." That consultation is actually a sales conversation. It is where you and the potential client determine certain things, such as:
- Can you work together?
- Is there actually a 'case' or matter you can provide effective legal services for?
- Will they pay your fee?
Your potential client is expecting you to lead this sales conversation. They want you to sell them your solution to their problem. The moment you step out of leadership is the moment you lose the sale.
There are many things you can do in your sales process and conversations to win clients every time. Here are a few suggestions:
Become crystal clear about who your ideal client actually is. Not everyone who needs the type of legal services you provide is an ideal client for you. At a minimum, your ideal client should be someone who:
- Values the service you provide;
- Can afford your retainer and fees;
- Promptly responds to requests for information and documentation; and
- Accepts and follows your advice
2. YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
Know and leverage your unique selling proposition (USP). This could include specialist training or certifications in your practice area combined with past professional experiences. This could also include board seats, roles and positions within industry-related professional organizations. Also, do not discount your personal interests and hobbies as part of what makes you unique. I recently met a lawyer who participates in ball room dancing competitions . . . and she is good!
However, before you share a long list of accomplishments and legal wins, start with WHY you became a lawyer and chose your practice area. Your WHY and your journey are unique to you. Your WHY is very likely the reason you will be the best lawyer for that client.
Your accomplishments matter but not as much as your motivation for wanting to help.
3. AVOID LEGALESE
You must be able to explain what you do and who you are in a way that appeals to your ideal clients. Avoid acronyms or terms they will not understand because some will be too embarrassed to ask for clarification. If that happens, they will leave you feeling confused and confused minds never buy.
People love stories. So, learn how to tell your potential client a persuasive, compelling story.
When relating the details of a relevant case win, present it as a story. Instead of making it about your strategic prowess, make it about the overall process that led to victory. A winning story will elicit an emotional response because as human beings we love when good triumphs. When you implement this powerful selling tool, potential clients will remember how your story made them feel and see you as the right person to lead them to victory too.
Never underestimate this extremely powerful tool to help you sell your services.
5. SALES IS A CONVERSATION
A conversation is a two-way process. If you do most of the talking, you will never close the sale. Slow down. Listen. Create space for your ideal client to think about and consider your unique selling proposition and winning story. Then, ask them:
- If there was anything you shared that they personally connected with;
- If they can envision how being on the other side of their legal will feel; and
- If the outcome is positive, how would their life improve
6. FEES ARE FACTS, NOT FEELINGS
I was actually told by a client that she felt charging higher fees was "unkind." She dreaded the money/fee part of her sales conversations. She had attached a negative emotional value to her fees, instead of creating a positive attachment to the tremendous, life-changing good she was able to accomplish for the clients she serves.
She charged the lowest fees possible to clients out of a mistaken sense of kindness. And she and her family paid a high price. She worked LONG, hard hours for several clients who did not truly value her services and never paid on time or in full. She barely broke even every month. In the end, the person she was actually being unkind to was herself and those who loved her.
Your fees are facts, not feelings. Your fees are what allow you to actually be a business. They cover your time, overhead and costs of business. Your fees must cover all of that, including a profit. (See my article, Are You Earning What You're Worth?)
7. SALES IS SURVIVAL
If you want to survive professionally, mastering your sales process and conversation is not an option. The good news is, your ideal client will gladly pay for services they believe will help them accomplish their desired objective. They will pay in full and they will pay on time.
Would you like to know how I work with women lawyers to help them improve their sales process and conversation? Email me confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org