Monday, December 21, 2009

Client development and the Earth's rotation

http://www.wilcox-legal.com/Client%20Development%20Process%20Overview%20podcast.mp3

Client Development and the Earth’s rotation

Let me be the first to say I have no idea what relation the Earth’s rotation around the sun has on client development opportunities or exploration of career options.

However, it seems like decisions and planning are always made at the end of the quarter, end of the year…

As we approach that turn I am having several conversations with attorneys daily about planning. Not Y2K the world is ending planning, but what will 2010 look like. More importantly, how folks want it to look.

It can look the same or worse than 2009, or you can use the Earth’s rotation to your advantage.

5 tips on client development planning:

1. Develop goals with what you want the end of 2010 to look like and work backwards. How many seminars do you need to do per month? How many calls or emails to prospects do you need to make weekly? Who can you set up a referral network with inside and outside of your firm (think complimentary practice areas.) Most attorneys that I speak with that do not have a book of business, do not have a business plan.

2. Commit to taking a client to lunch. At least once a month. Things have been tough on everybody. Everybody is looking at bottom lines. What better time to reset a relationship. Bring a notepad. Find out what “business” issues they are dealing with. Take notes. If the issues don’t match your practice areas, what better way to provide a referral to someone in your network.

3. Referral networks are like the holiday season, better to be in a giving mood. Nothing will kill a referral network quicker than a group of people that are together to take and not give. Always be listening for opportunities to feed your network.

4. Go outside of your profession to create a network. Financial planners, doctors, real estate agents, engineers, IT, business leaders. Amazing how much you can learn about how a business works and the issues that business people deal with when you hear from them first-hand. Possibly facilitate the deal between business people.

5. Establish success metrics for yourself and qualify opportunities in or out as quickly as possible. Time management is so tough. There are two winners in a deal. The one who gets the business and the one that gets out first without commiting time, money, and resources toward a prospect that you know you will not represent.

Whether you sit on boards, give seminars, join groups, spend the time up front to determine if it is something that you can be passionate about. Do they have contacts that you can leverage, but more importantly develop strong long –term relationships with? Nothing is less inspiring than someone that is going through the motions in a chase for the dollar.

Andrew Wilcox
President
Wilcox and Hackett, LLC
Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com
www.Wilcox-legal.com
(850) 893-8984

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Taking it personal

Do you go to work everyday and do your job, or do you take it personal?

I speak with people all of the time who are trying to find and edge. They step outside of their day-to-day, try and do what others competing with them do not, all good things.

However, is it who they are or what they are doing? That board you are looking to be a part of, friend you are trying to make, job you are doing, is it personal or just business.

Remember the movie Jerry McGuire. Jerry told him he was "paycheck player" and that "that doesn't inspire people".

We probably know more people that do what they do for money than for passion.

I talk with people everyday that make alot of money. Alot more than most I should say. They aren't happy and want a change. I tell them if you do anything for money, you will never have enough of it. That's fine, but what inspires people?

Is it the person joining a chamber of commerce board to pass their business card out or the person feeding the homeless on a cold Saturday morning with their kids because their life is a blessing and they want to share that with the ones closest to them?

I have been very lucky to work with a broad range of companies. Some struggling, some doing well, some searching.

When I walk into a class I see something very quickly. Who is engaged and wanting to improve. Who takes it personally and who is there as if it were a prison sentence?

You see it in some peoples eyes immediately. Others have been burned before but believe in what they do. Others are paycheck players. If someone offered them more money that would trump everything else.

Ask yourself in what you do. Do I worry about my job responsibilities or do I mentally check out at some point in the day? When others stop, do I do a bit more, honestly?

Do you dive into the new initiatives or find the person/ people that is griping in the corner about how bad the new idea is?

Do you give more than you get? Are you committed to the development of others? Part of a team or a bad month affect "you".

What would inspire you in others?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Identifying your brand and marketing it (click for podcast overview)

Okay so you have read blogs about what other firms are doing, maybe spoke with other marketing executives at other law firms, perhaps even hired a consultant to come in and do training. Now what?


There is a reason why training without an implementation plan is called “drive by” training. It comes at you fast and furious and you get a few points that you or the attorneys at your firm can use. The shelf life is a matter of a few days to a couple of weeks though if there isn’t a process or plan of use after it is all said and done.


When was the last time that you had a cross section of employees sit in a room and identify what is unique about your firm. Better yet, when was the last time you asked your clients what is unique about your firm and why they use your services?


Does your perception meet the reality? You may think that it is the amount of rated or ranked attorneys that you have, diversity, geographic footprint, relationships, personal service, and it may very well be. But what if your brand doesn’t match your firm.


As recent as a couple of years ago, the term “brand” hardly ever came up when discussing firms goals. It was important to have websites and brochures match in color. Maybe even a firm logo or slogan.


Your brand comes from:

How do you engage clients, prospective and existing?

What value do THEY see in using your services?

What is the common theme and culture that your firm delivers on?

The quality of work that is delivered.

What do you do better or more unique than other firms, and why is that so?


All of the rest of it is marketing. The websites, blogs, seminars, trade shows, tweets, Web 2.0, yellow page, etc. Those are all vehicles to deliver messaging, but more importantly begin to ask questions.


Pick up your yellow pages or do a web search in your local area. How many times do you flip through and see: Personal Injury, Criminal Law, Family Law. What is unique in any of the 100 plus pages, besides the ones closest to the front that got hoodwinked into buying yet another double truck ad in the 20th version of the local yellow pages? NOTHING.


Many times there is a disconnect between the real brand and how it is marketed.


First, avoid marketing jargon. You know who you are. Second, uniquely position your brand by asking questions that would lead others to either engage that as important to them or not.


Diversity may mean everything to one prospective client. How do you know if it’s not asked? A smaller firm where a client may get more personalized attention and reasonable bill rate may be more or less important than a firm with international offices and hundreds of offices.


Most importantly, are you asking questions to better understand your clients or do you assume that you know. The answers may shock you. It’s also the real brand that you have.


Market that and measure the results.


Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good pitchers start in the bullpen

Growing up playing baseball there was a few different types of guys that would end up on the mound. The ones that practiced and really tried to improve with each pitch. Ones that their dads complained to the coach enough that their kid deserved to pitch. Players that just were thrown in to eat up innings to get a game over with a big lead or big loss.

As a pitcher, I spent hours more in the bullpen or throwing to live hitters in practice than in the game itself. Every pitch learning a little more. Ball went high, bend your back more. Curve is hanging, snap it off more. This guy has an open stance, this guy crowds the plate. What do I need to do to match my strengths to best defeat his weaknesses. A pitcher thinks this way.

A thrower gets up and just wants to throw strikes. They don’t know how. Just throw and hope that it crosses in the strike zone. Maybe throw a curve because in warm ups you though it was cute to do and lets just give it a shot in the game. They don’t have a process to improve. What success they may get is from a random series of events tied together by hope and luck.

When going after new business which one are you?

How many times have you been to a sporting event and say, “Wow, they make that look easy.”

Easy comes from process of improvement. It comes from doing the same little things over and over.

I enjoy seeing ads for “Pitch Manager for large NY firm” and wonder what that entails for that firm. Are they pitching or throwing?

When putting together a pitch do you fully understand your strengths? More importantly where your prospective customers are weak? Why do they want to engage your services?

Are you pitching the same pitch no matter who you are attempting to secure as customers?

This is where fully understanding a prospective customers needs come in. What are they hoping to accomplish? How much is it costing them today to do it the way that they are doing it? Who does this involve? What percentage of time is being taken up by doing it this way..?

How much better could they do if you provided them the capability? Have they agreed to that or are you taking ownership of the solution?

Pitchers are an investment, throwers are a liability. The good pitchers invest the time to learning about their prospective clients more than anyone else. They treat each one as individuals.

How much time are you spending in the bullpen understanding, preparing and improving, versus just throwing at anyone that will listen?

Written by Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Thursday, April 16, 2009

now on Ping.fm

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring clean your client and prospect list

In a down economy is it a good practice to fire bad clients?

For the attorney or business person that is looking to use this current environment as an opportunity rather than a curse I say, absolutely!

In any environment you have to make choices. You have time, resources, and money allocated. I have been working with a lot of clients who are being asked for significant discounts on their bill rate. Of course, those clients will be more than happy to pay their current rate when the economy turns positive again…right?

Are there prospective clients that simply are not going to come to fruition? A lawyer or firm may have pumped out lots of proposals, answered RFP’s and you haven’t heard back.

I am firm believer in holding on to good clients. Your definition of good will vary. Mine is one that we have mutual respect, they look at what I do as an investment and not a cost, and one that pays when they say they will pay. Simple definition and one that you can consider a 3 legged stool. If they don’t have one, the other two will fall.

If your service has value that doesn’t mean that you won’t be asked for a discount. These are tough times and that is a decision that you will have to make. It is also a decision that you will own for a VERY long time. It is a decision that will not only affect your rate with that client, but since there are few secrets, be prepared to have to stand by that rate for others. A study was done by Gartner a few years back that for every 10% of discounting, that an organization loses 33%. Those dollars being discounted are pure profit dollars.

Now may be a good time to have these conversations with clients. Asking business questions, developing success metrics tied to value. If 85% of business comes from existing clients that seems a pretty good place to start. Setting up mutually agreed upon metrics by which you and they measure the investment is like stacking the deck in your favor when they come calling wanting to trim rates. Make yourself invaluable or give yourself a measure by which you decide if this client is in fact worth it to you. Mutual respect.

Existing clients ask yourself:

Is this a rate that I can live with?

Am I buying the business?

What are the clients expectations?

How much time is spent managing the clients emotions?

Do I respect them and do they respect me?

Am I/ or is my firm having to wait for payment past our agreed upon schedule continuously? How much time and resources am I committing to this?

Am I the best counsel for my clients needs? (Am I taking this client on effectively when my real niche of practice is something else?)

Are there other issues that I can be assisting them with across other verticals and practice area?

Prospective clients are a different reality. A lot of lawyers and firms commit a lot of time, effort, and resources to the sunshine pump. Keep pumping because hope springs eternal. When in fact after all of this commitment you realize that you have a septic pump. No one wants to clean out that pipeline and fill it back up with new prospects. So you follow up, call, email, text message, sit outside their building and bang it out on jungle drums. Still nothing. Meanwhile, who has the power, and when will they start to use it?

Take some time and put together a list of all prospective clients that you have sent some form of proposal to that is more than 30 days old.

Send a letter effectively pulling that proposal off the table. A lot may have happened to them and to you over a period of time. Circumstances change. In the letter, explain that you would like to pull the proposal off the table and have the opportunity to meet with them and discuss their needs in more detail. Maybe there were areas of value that we not covered before or you simply did not ask the business questions to determine value. If they were shopping for price do you want to play?

One of two things will happen. They will not respond in which case how good of a prospect were they? They will respond and provide you an opportunity to reengage the process, maybe leverage you and your firms offerings more effectively.

This shouldn’t be rude. You are simply establishing mutual respect in the beginning of a working relationship, or identifying if you are simply a commodity that has little to no value to them but a high cost. Better to know that up front.

Questions for prospective clients:

Do I fully understand their environment and can I provide the best service to them?

Do they see the value in my services?

How will success be measured in this business relationship?

Is this measurement mutually agreed upon?

Is this business worth winning?

Is this an opportunity that I can/ should refer to another?

Why are they looking for (new) representation?

Do they fit my target market?

Is my bill rate in their range? If they are used to paying workers comp rates and you are billing $500 + an hour don’t waste your time.

If my main contact leaves, do I have other contacts that are strong within the organization?

You may end up with few customers, but they more than likely will be better ones. You will end up with fewer prospects, but they will be more qualified opportunities. Just like spring cleaning your house gives you more space, spring cleaning your clients or prospects will give you more time. More time to develop or manage your customer base, take in your kids ballgame, dinner with your spouse…

According to my watch the time is now…

Written by Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Relationship selling

As the Jimmy Buffett song goes, “Relationships…we all got them, we all want them, what do we do them…”

In my career, I have often been in rooms of people that have done very well selling by relationships. They have been in a market for a long time, met a lot of people, attended countless rubber chicken dinners, walked hundreds of miles on golf courses, and had enough coffee meetings to keep the Colombian coffee market afloat single-handedly.

They usually listen to people talk about “new” ways to prospect and secure business and smile.

Early in my career, I would camp out next to these folks and learned a lot. They came from the Dale Carnegie school of building business. Shake enough hands, meet enough people. The one question that I never got an answer to was, “So what about the opportunities that you are missing because you don’t have a relationship?” In this economy, the question has become a statement in many cases, “So we have a relationship, I expect a better deal. You are my friend, but I have to cut costs. I hate to do it but…”

Relationship selling by itself relies on a few assumptions:

1. You are the only person or firm that has a relationship with the client or prospective client. Do a Martindale search of how many attorneys are in your area of practice just in a certain geographical area. Divide that by how many companies/ potential clients there are. Look at how many people either have relationships with someone or are actively trying to have a relationship with a potential client and realize you ALWAYS have competition.

2. Relationships are rock solid and nothing can get in between them. When over 50% of marriages end in divorce and these are people that share families, homes, bank accounts, and proclaimed “til death do us part..”Something can always come between you. Gee Mr.(s) Prospect…you don’t talk to your attorney that often but get bills from them, and wow those are high bills. What if you can cut costs? Would a lower rate entice you…

3. Those relationships will always be in a position of power and be able to buy your services. What happens when that relationship leaves the company and now you have to start over with a new contact? What if that company is a big client and the new contact is used to dealing with another lawyer or firm?

4. That you are in fact comfortable selling to people that you have relationships with. Not everyone is comfortable have a business conversation with a friend or asking for referrals from a friend. Building referral networks is a process and a skill.

So what if someone is using another lawyer/ firm for their legal work? Does that mean that the relationship is stronger than the need to change or use other firms? What makes you any different from anyone else that speaks at a Chamber meeting, does a seminar, or exchanges cards at a civic function?

If you went to a doctor for a check up and they spent five minutes with you, told you you looked good and to pay on your way out of the office, how would you feel? That is what many working relationships have become.

My daughters pediatrician is thorough and you hope to secure his first time in the morning. He asks questions, listens, spends time. Answers every question that you have. Researches if he doesn’t know an answer off the top of his head. Will sit quietly and think about my daughters individually and practically has to be kicked out because you feel bad for the long line of folks waiting to see him. He recently diagnosed a since resolved issue that baffled everyone. He managed our risk as parents and still had enough personality to joke with us when the mood was light.

I changed health insurance plans. Price was an issue. I looked at a few plans that his office did not work with but did cover my wife and my doctors. We paid more to keep him as a doctor and changed doctors ourselves. THAT is a relationship.

Are prospective clients looking for a buddy, or are they looking for someone to manage their risk? Are they looking for the cheapest attorney or the one that takes it personal and is the best?

When prospecting, assume that they have heard it all. Assume that they have relationships with other firms. Assume that their “active” needs are met although probe to confirm.

Where can you provide value to them and to their organization? Asking business questions that help identify “latent” needs. Where are they exposed or where is their upcoming risk? You will only find out by asking. When you are done asking, find others in the organization that you can ask questions of.

Separate yourself by the questions that you ask and the value that they see, not just by being an entity that assumes the answers and generates bills.

By understanding the entire situation of a company from legal, products, employment, real estate, finance, operations, etc. you insulate yourself from losing clients by having the ear of many within an organization. Become an investment rather than a cost by proactively bringing solutions to issues that they may face months or even years in advance.

Approach your client development from the clients side and there in lie the relationship.

Written by Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Monday, March 2, 2009

All hands on deck client development

One of the things that I amazed to hear from senior partners at large law firms is that client development when it is netted out falls to a certain percentage of the attorneys within a firm. The shortsighted ones go as far to believe that if their associates begin to develop business that they will want to leave and take the business with them.

Is it any wonder why the loss of a few key clients causes the daily announcement of layoffs.

Large law firms are in many cases living a self fullfilling prophesy. The bill rates and overhead price out good potential clients. The arms race for associates that delivered jaw dropping starting salaries over the past few years. The acquisition binge of some firms that has caused alot of miscommunication within firms, among other things.

Some partners and most associates lives have revolved around billing hours originated by a few.

Meanwhile, alot of firms that have run themselves as businesses are still doing well in most areas. I have seen a trend over the past couple of years of attorneys that I have placed from larger firms to smaller firms. The money in many cases is comparable, sometimes have better benefits plans, but the number one reason that the attorneys have made the move is that they want to do more than sit behind a desk and bill and research. They want to be part of growing the firm. They want to have a sense of culture and community within a firm.

Firms that are not utilizing every person from the receptionist, to the legal secretary, summer associate, clerks, associates to partner in the client development part of their business do so at their own peril.

My background is in sales. After college I joined a financial services company and went through extensive training. My brother was the million-dollar roundtable financial planner that they decided to put me next to. I brought alot of misperceptions into that role. None more false and abruptly corrected as, "I am fresh out of college, why would someone want to invest or buy from me when they can have someone that has been doing this for years?"

I sat across from the managing partner at the firm and he told me if I believed that was my problem, I would own that.

I speak with associates and counsel all of the time that state they can not sell until they become a partner because no one will buy from them. I find that especially interesting when I speak with a young associate that has a few hundred thousand dollar book of business and growing. If you believe that you can't, you wont. If you believe people will leave your firm if they are doing well then they will. I can’t begin to say how many attorneys that I talk with that are perfectly happy where they are and that it would take “more money than they are worth” to get them to even think about leaving.

Client development is a process. Partners taking associates to lunch with clients is a good gesture but how do they know how to get clients of their own that they can take to lunch someday?

Great law school grades, research dynamos, can write so perfect that it can almost be considered 15th century literature, but they have never had a business conversation with anyone to learn about their business. Not legal issues, about their business.

You have administrative staff that has relationships with people across a wide spectrum of interests but they are never engaged in business conversations with a spouse or friend that happens to be a VP at a regional company, or Operations Director at an international company.

Partners who have worked their way to that role and are great attorneys, but do the legal work generated by someone else.

Are your employees a cost or are they an investment?

When investing in the growth of your firm, how much of a return would you see in that investment if everyone added incrementally to the bottom line?

How to start:

Identify who you are and who you are not: Most attorneys that I speak with generate 80-90% of their business through referrals. Identifying what clients are a better fit for another firm and referring them to that firm is a HUGE head start on receiving business in return. It also protects your brand on the work that you do. You have a better chance of doing work well that you do all of the time than simply “taking whatever comes through the door”.

Facilitate asking questions. You can have anyone in your firm ask an open ended question of a contact and one that usually opens the flood gates. What does your business do? How many people does your company employ? What are your company’s goals for this year? Over the long term? Has your company acquired any companies over the last year? Who uses your products/ services? Are you a publicly traded company? Who handles your legal issues internally?

Messaging. It is crucial for an organization to have the same message. Having someone stating that the firm can or cant do something or represent something that is a stretch, even with the best of intentions, can damage everything and drive wedges in relationships internally and externally.

Communication process. How does a contact become a lead and a lead become a client? Who at different levels of power within a firm needs to be involved for levels of commitment. For deals over X size that will involve X resources who needs to sign off.

Habits of rainmakers. If 20% of the firm is generating 80-100% of the business, what are they doing right? Facilitate lunch and learns. Accountability partners. Create an environment where everyone is encouraged to prospect without fear of a client being stolen by someone else in the firm. Nurture trust and a team approach to client development. Remember the internal referrals.

When your investment begins to pay off you still may lose some to another firm. You just might have more work than you know what to do with working with a close knit group of people that has each others best interests in mind.

Written by Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When the gravy train comes to a halt

In my daily conversations, I speak with attorneys that have sizeable books of business and attorneys who are fed by others.

Reading article after article on firms that are letting attorneys go and reviewing my inbox of resumes from 10-15-20 + year attorneys without any business I would not relish the idea of relying on anyone but myself to create and develop a client base.

One of the problems is perception. Understand that in this environment there is no such thing as “not expendable”. The other emotional hurdle that some attorneys may face is the reality that without any business you have more than likely been overpaid to this point.

I recently spoke with a few partners around Florida that are making over $350k without any business. They are asking to make a move to another firm because they feel like their firm will cut them but are not willing to take a significant cut in pay to do so. When that day comes that the ax falls, and that day unfortunately draw neareth, nothing from nothing leaves nothing in salary.

So if you have been fed by others and have had you’re a-ha moment that it is time to start developing business here are some ideas and some expected roadblocks.

Start with talking with the decision makers that you know. Roadblock: If you knew them and have not developed business from them as partner, shame on you, someone else probably has. Just because they have a relationship with you doesn’t mean they don’t have relationships with others. It’s a start but while you are trying to secure a small piece of business that may lead to more, use them as a the starting point to a referral network.

Time management is the foundation for client development. No one is more reluctant to start prospecting than someone that hasn’t had to do it for a very long time. Set aside sacred prospecting time and have goals around that time.

Develop a network to start:

Internal (within firm)- You would be surprised how many times that I hear attorneys say they have work in other areas of practice but don’t know who to give it to within their own firm!

Reach out to:
Members of same practice area (regionally, nationally, internationally)
Members of complimentary practice areas (regionally, nationally, internationally
Form deal teams
Update others on business and involve where you can (grow your deal)

External
Develop small groups with other professions and meet at least once a month to share references, opportunities
Offer references on your work (names, case studies, publications, etc.)
Ask how you can assist them to grow their business
Commit with them to bring 1-2 new members in per month
Become a speaker with a vertical market and add a vertical each quarter
Research and meet with attorneys from other firms as part of your plan. One meeting per week. Bring them business if possible.
Blogs, writing forums, e-newsletters
Facilitate client meeting groups

Develop measurable success stories that you can deliver to people with different job titles. Power buys from power. Make sure that you are identifying decision makers and talking with them. Otherwise you are just wasting time.

Success story model:

“I was working with…” Key decision maker job title, VP, GC, C-level, etc

“whose critical issue was….” Business issue, not necessarily legal issue

“the reason was…” why that was an issue

“he/she said they needed”… capabilities (firm, practice areas, business need)

“we provided them with that capability..”

“and the result was…” if at all possible a measurable result. Reduced reporting, compliance, savings, cost reduction, etc.

Just because you start having these meetings and doing these things doesn’t mean that rain will start immediately falling. It’s the start to a process. For some attorneys that have seen their book dwindle it’s getting back to the fundamentals.

Written by: Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Welcome to the world of RFP's

Welcome to the world of RFP’s

So the RFP hits the streets and you begin to read all of these specs that a company has and wonder how interesting some of the specifics are.

Need a firm with offices in 12 states.
Board Certified ERISA counsel
AM Law Top 50 firm
Recognized diversity program
Specific technology requirements
Reporting requirements

You begin to say, that kinda sounds like “that” firm. Well you got it.

If you are an attorney or law firm and are just now engaging in the process your choices are few.

1) Try and schedule a meeting with a contact and secure meetings with key decision makers to rework the specs into your favor.

2) Choose not to respond

3) Dedicate enormous and expensive resources to respond to a document that was written for someone else to win.

Client development is sales. Congratulations. When you were pulling all-nighters in law school and working through holidays, weekends, special occasions to meet deadlines only to come up for air at brief intervals. You think back on your decision to be an attorney and say, “You know what, I really wish I was in sales!”

You are in luck. You are. So is everyone in your firm if you want to survive in this economic environment.

In sales, there are two winners. The one who gets the business and the one who got out first without commiting a lot of resources toward a losing endeavor.

The RFP process is just that. Unless you read the RFP and the specs are written with you in mind your chances of winning are slim. The relationships that you have developed all come down to a purchasing agent who does not care who you are or what awards your firm has won. They are there to get the lowest price.

Questions to ask after the RFP has hit the street:

1) Is my/ our firms work a commodity?

2) Is there a way to leverage relationships with this company to rewrite the specs and ultimately win the business? Ask stakeholders what the business drivers are for the RFP. Without a business reason for an RFP it is usually just price. Refer to point #1.

3) With the internal cost of responding to RFP’s, is the cost vs. benefit worth it? How many losses in responses can you absorb for the one that you win?

4) Is there a way to effectively subcontract with the winning firm?

How to write the specs:

1) Get beyond the GC and identify other stakeholders from a company.
a. If a GC leaves you now do not have to start over fresh with the company
b. You do one area of practice but a VP in another area may have other issues, latent needs. (maybe heading off products liability issues, employee comp) why have a piece when you can get the whole.

2) Value based questioning. Asking business level questions that focus the conversation on the specific business line. Talk legal issues with legal people, finance, marketing, operations issues with those stakeholders.
a. How are they doing it today? How many people is that taking? How much is that costing? Who else is affected?
b. Find discrete areas of value and tie numbers to it. What would it save in reduced time on reporting, compliance, reduced fines, etc.

At some point you will have to deal with purchasing. However, if you have every key decision maker from various business units saying that you are the one that they want, and more specifically, you can show them a cost vs. benefit of using your services rather than your competitors you can avoid becoming a commodity.

Written by Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984

Friday, January 16, 2009

Client Development Process

Client Development Process is a 4 hour course that approaches client development from the client side. The course is taught in half of a day with individual coaching available over the second half and follow up coaching via conference call for 90 days.

The top 3 goals that law firm management have shared with me are:

"We are looking for a way to attract and retain a quality client base and leverage existing clients more effectively."

"I would like to increase our profits per partner."

"We would like to develop senior associates and existing partners into rainmakers."

How does your firm market? Is there a common process to be shared and understood or do you rely on lunches, white papers, and press releases?

Do you have a way of looking at every phase of your client development and identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement in your approach?

We have provided the capabilities for attorneys and firms to address these and other issues and I would like to explain how.. Please call me at 850-893-8984 or email me at Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com. You may also visit my website http://www.wilcox-legal.com/

Client Development Process-Course Agenda

1 hour
Introduction to Client Development Process
Client Development Issues
Management Issues
No Decision
Traditional/ Process Sellers
Competency Components
Value Knowledge
Market Knowledge
Vision of Usage

Client Development Skills
Alignment with Buyers
Personal
Buyer Starting Point
Buyer Behavior
Interrogatory Engine
Value and Vision Before Service and Price
Buyer Qualification
Power Line
Opportunity Approvers
Sphere of Influence
Opportunity Qualification and Control
Qualification Elements
Prospecting and Business Development
Conceptual Client Development Territory
List of Requirements
Self-generated vs. Competitive
Main Concepts
You get Delegated to People You Talk Like
People Buy from People
Success Story format
Don’t Give without Getting
Bad News Early is Good News
Value of Usage

1 hour
15 minute break between sessions

Goal Identification/ Menu of Goals/ Success Stories
Questioning Etiquette
Targeted Conversation
Sample Questions
Value Questions
Value Measurement
Call Debrief
Letter to Advocate

Opportunity Organizational Chart
Buyer Qualification
Why engage other Key Players?
Follow up to the Advocate Letter
Joint Client Development Calls

Qualifying the Advocate
Choosing to compete
Competitive sanity check
Competitive Strategies
Reasonable Scenario
Competitive Differentiators
Qualifying the Opportunity
Solutions develop over time
Key Player call- Targeted Conversations

1 hour
Opportunity Control
Determine Evaluation Process
Chain of Events Template
Define proposal process
Chain of Events
Opportunity Control
Draft Implementation Plan
Cost vs. Benefit Analysis
Define Success Metrics
Close and Negotiation
Buyer Tactics
Negotiating Tips
Navigating the Negotiation
Negotiation Stands

1 hour
Prospecting and Business Development
Planning
Qualifying Unsolicited RFP’s
Gaining Access to Senior Execs
Telephone Prospecting
Organizing to Prospect
Habits of Rainmakers
Setting up Your Network
Referrals
Voice mail/ Admin
Sample Prospecting Letter/ Fax
Email Prospecting
Seminars/ Trade Shows
Management Tools
Allocating your Time
Activity Balancing
Opportunity Difficulties vs. Seller Problems
Getting Started with Client Development Process
30-day Tasks
Dealing with Stale Proposals
Proposal Withdrawal Letter

About the instructor:

Andrew Wilcox’s experience with client development process began in 1996 as a sales representative for a Fortune 500 company working his way up to Senior Sales Director for the southeast. There he implemented a process that grew his region’s sales by an average of 57% per year for the next 3 years. Andrew went on to Thomson West where he achieved the award of President’s Club for the next 2 years as the only small market manager.

Since 2004 Andrew has been working with Fortune 500 companies and law firms to teach sales and client development process working with such companies as Business Objects, IBM, Rockwell Automation, VWR International, Aspen Tech, and Thomson West. Andrew held corporate sales and sales management positions where, in addition to achieving individual awards as top revenue producer and sales manager, he managed special projects such as implementing sales measurement & reporting systems, designing incentive & compensation programs and opening new sales regions. Andrew is a graduate of Florida State University where he majored in marketing and minored in international business.

Andrew is the owner of Wilcox and Hackett, LLC, a legal search and client development consulting firm since 2004 where he has worked with small law firms to firms in the AM Law Top 5. Over that time, Andrew has helped place shareholders and associates and has worked extensively on firm mergers. Experience including working from the discovery of interested firms, through merger, developing business plan to training partners and associates on client development process.