As owners of law practices, we are business owners and our primary job is to run a profitable business. The delivery of legal services is the product which allows us to be in business. Although this seems “common sense” to many of us, I am still surprised at how many of my colleagues are not comfortable with the business development aspect of the legal practice–much less “selling” legal services.
To be fair, our legal education did not include courses in sales management, personal selling, and marketing. I believe that new lawyers would be better equipped to handle the “real world” of practicing law if they were exposed to business development and marketing during law school. I would also suggest that if you become a student of sales and learn the fundamentals of sales and sales management, your conversion rate will increase and your practice will grow.
What is a sales management approach to a law practice?
My approach is to stay focused on the firm’s new business development activity on a daily basis, while ensuring the proper delivery of legal services. I recommend the use of a CRM database to keep track of new business leads but also to keep a record of the interaction with the prospective client. In my opinion, this is an essential tool which every law firm should have. A Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system allows you to keep track of your correspondence with prospective clients, in chronological order, from the initial contact to engagement. There are many robust web-based CRMs in the market place today such as ZOHO and Salesforce.com which could be helpful to a firm. This is also a great tool to keep a record of the client relationship throughout the duration of the case.
Another component to sales management is discipline.
The discipline to make timely follow up calls to potential leads is essential for any success in client development. In my firm, our goal is to return calls to prospective clients within one hour from the initial contact. After a short telephone conversation, we send a “thank you” for your interest email and begin the relationship. My goal is show the prospective client a law firm that is responsive and efficient. This is a good start to any business relationship.
Begin and end your day with a sales call.
Let’s face it, as attorneys we plan our days with tasks we want to complete (memos, pleadings, etc.), but in reality our typical day is a roller coaster of managing a wave of interactions (emails, calls, etc.) that were not part of the day’s agenda. When you begin your day making a follow up business development call, it keeps you focused on business development. Ending your day with a sales call is even more important. This last call of the day could mean the next new client or new matter to begin the next day. It is also a reminder that we are business owners and we are responsible for maintaining the “pipeline” of new work full so we can continue to be in business.
We have all heard the adage “sales is a numbers game”. If you make one more sales call per day in a month you have made close to 20 new calls. Think of how many new clients you can acquire in one year after 200+ calls. Try it and you will see the results!
There is more to sales management than CRM and making sales calls. It also includes gathering statistics, sales ratios, training staff, and much more. My suggestion is that by utilizing a sales management approach for your law practice, you will be more focused in achieving the goals of your practice.