Monday, October 5, 2015

Learn How to Peel an Onion

Clients don’t buy services, they buy solutions. So finding the root cause of a problem is critical to determining a comprehensive solution. While many will say that the solution is winning a case or successfully completing a transaction, the value creating solution is often not nearly so obvious. Providing true value to clients means that you are looking out for their interests and trying to understand the circumstances and outlying factors that contributed to the situation or inhibited its resolution. Learn how to ask questions that uncover need and pain.

Learning how to probe and get to the root cause of an issue is an artful talent. It requires active listening, open ended questioning techniques and relentless probing. Use the 'five whys' questioning technique to probe deep into causes and circumstances as well as to reveal the value that solutions can have for the company and your client. Once you know the scope of the issues, provide solutions not just for the immediate problem but ways to avoid the problem in the future as well.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Put Your Back Against the Wall

Busy restaurants are bee hives. They are full of people coming and going, animated conversations and more distractions than the human mind can process. The attention span of most people is already limited so the more you can cut down on distractions the longer you can keep someone's attention. When dining with clients, always choose the seat that puts your back against the wall and give clients the seats facing the wall. This limits the amount of distraction and allows clients to focus on you and the conversation.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ask For Referrals Early in the Relationship

Most professionals never ask for a referral. When they do, it's often after the project has been completed. This may not be the most opportune time to ask for a referral or testimonial. Earlier in the relationship may be better. Early in the relationship avoids the Honeymoon Hangover effect, the point in time when the honeymoon is over and the reality of the relationship sets in. Requests for referrals after compelling value has been delivered early in the relationship may be the best time to ask for a referral to professional peers who may also have need for your services.

Watch For Client Easing

Clients rarely abruptly stop using the services of an attorney. Instead, they ease out of the relationship slowly. The same is true of how clients prefer to get into a relationship. Pitching too much too quickly demands too much trust too early in the relationship. It is better to offer a way to become familiar with the attorney’s work and grow the relationship from there into more practice areas as trust and comfort builds. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Never Bundle. Always Unbundle.

An opportunity to present capabilities to a client is not a request to learn about every practice in the firm. Nonetheless, many attorneys sneak additional practice areas into the materials or presentation ‘just in case they have needs’. But pitching to win a bundled set of services complicates the decision process unnecessarily. A focused proposal offering a viable solution to a specific problem is much more powerful than a broad statement of capabilities, no matter how strong those capabilities are. For one, multiple practice presentations require the buyer to make multiple decisions. In this case, it is much easier to decline all than agree to only one. And once one 'no' is verbalized, it becomes much easier to verbalize 'no' again and again. Conversely, a strong pitch focusing on one practice area makes the decision simpler and lowers the risk to the client should only one practice area not work out. 

Unseat the Competition

The majority of lawyers approach a pitch without regard to how well the work is currently being done for the client by the incumbent firm or professional. Even in situations in which they have knowledge of poor performance, most attorneys don't attempt to understand the dynamics of the poor performance. Instead, they pitch indiscriminately in hopes that serendipity and need conveniently converge to win the client's interest.

No one changes providers until they first question the value they get from their current provider. Shaking a client from the comfort of a long term relationship requires that the client see a much higher reward with at least as low a risk as their current provider. Barring that, clients are unlikely to entertain switching from the devil they know to the devil they don't know.

Clients are constantly questioning every aspect of their business. And they value those who help them through this process. If the incumbent provider is not doing this, it leaves a gaping opportunity for a competitive provider to offer this guidance. Develop a questioning technique that walks the prospective client through every aspect of perceived value in the relationship. Your effectiveness in guiding this process is the key to creating the opportunity to present alternative solutions.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Do Your Eyes Smile?

A ‘Duchenne smile’ is a powerful way of striking up a new relationship, a new study finds. People are highly tuned to the Duchenne smile, which involves upturned lips and crinkly eyes. And they can easily spot a fake smile, which tends to involve only the mouth and not the eyes.The research tested how much people are aware of each other’s emotions, whether negative or positive. It found that people were more aware of positive emotions in other people than negative. Read the story.