Friday, March 1, 2013

Good, Better, Best: Getting to 'Yes' with Tiered Options.

Getting to 'yes' in a proposal sometimes requires more than clarifying the client’s needs, offering solutions and providing evidence of the value of your recommendations. While this basic structure for a presentation can be successful, often it is not enough to get the client to say 'yes'. Getting to 'yes' sometimes requires a little leverage to close the deal. Gaining leverage is simply a matter of leading the dialogue and lowering the barriers for the client to be able to say yes.

This is the first of three examples which will be posted on this technique over the next three days.

‘Good, Better, Best’ Options:

There’s a concept in marketing called ‘Good, Better, Best’. Offering three viable options enables the buyer to engage the firm at different levels of commitment. Often the level depends upon their tolerance for risk and their comfort level with the attorney. But how the offers are structured in terms of cost and commitment is key.
Competitors will often structure their proposals to place the greatest incentive on the highest and 'best' option with progressively better value but increasingly deeper organizational commitments. Psychologically, this requires clients to make the largest commitment possible to a relationship which has not yet been proven.
It's better to load the greatest value in the middle tier level, the 'better' choice. Structured in a bell curve of sorts, 'better' solutions offer more value without the longer term or deeper commitments. Proposals developed with the 'mid tier loaded value' are easier for clients to accept since they can legitimately rationalize that they were conservative in their selection without being overly frugal or short-sighted in their selection.  


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Put Small Talk Last

For clients who hire professionals that work on an hourly basis, small talk can be a ‘killer skill’. Small talk can inadvertently kill the impression that you are trying to create: that is, that you are efficient and get things done quickly. Some small talk is necessary but it should never last more than a couple of minutes at the beginning of a conversation.

In addition to avoiding the impression of inefficiency, the more time you spend on small talk, the less time you have to understand the client’s needs. Small talk takes up valuable time and mental focus. It can get out of hand and eat up a disproportionate amount of time for the business meeting, especially when you have a lengthy period of small talk at the end of the conversation in addition to the beginning of the conversation.

What’s more, the longer you engage in small talk, the more awkward it becomes to gracefully refocus on the business at hand. Sports discussions can often do this, as can talk about recent political events, catastrophic weather and popular television shows or movies. Resist the temptation. There’s a time and place for the relationship building value of small talk and it is at the end of the meeting, after you have determined the next steps and concluded the business purpose of the meeting.

Save the small talk for the walk to the elevator.  That’s the best time to leave a client with the lasting impression of your warm and affable personality.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Don't Drink the Coffee

Morning meetings are the best times to meet with prospective clients. Breakfast meetings catch clients before they get into the office and get dragged in to their hectic days. It’s a time when most people are thinking more broadly about what needs to be done and are often more receptive in the mornings to ways in which they can accomplish their goals and get projects underway.

But remember. You are not at breakfast for the ham and eggs. Breakfast meetings are not about eating. They are about talking with clients about their business and the challenges they face. Keep your meal light and simple. A fresh fruit bowl is ideal. Avoid coffee on the drive in to the meeting as well as at the meeting if possible- you don’t want a spill to ruin your presentation mode. Get right to business. The less small talk you make the more time you have to understand teh client's needs. And you'll send the message that you are all business and don't waste your client's time or money. 
Lastly, always treat the waitress and hostess with the utmost respect and friendliness. Clients will notice if you are disrespectful, rude or lack compassion. Clients know that how you treat the waitress is how you will treat the client’s secretary and treating a secretary poorly will take away your chance to ever work with that client. It’s practically guaranteed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Make Your Client Face the Wall

When you take a client out to eat, always control what the client sees by controlling where they sit. If they can have a view of the entire restaurant, they will often be distracted by others in the restaurant. It’s human nature to look at who is coming into the restaurant, to look around for where the waiter is, or just to people watch when the discussion dulls. Few people are so engaging that their lunch partner doesn’t occasionally drift off during the conversation. But if you seat them facing you and a wall, they will be distracted less often and you have a better chance of keeping their full attention.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Choose Your Gigs Wisely.

I'm a musician. But my job has taken me to a variety of different cities. In each, I find myself longing to play music again. To find a group of musicians with whom I can enjoy the 'high' of playing music, of finding a groove zone of spiritual proportions.

In each new city, I would become anxious to play music with others, anyone, that I would take any opportunity to play, no matter who they were, whatever combination of instruments, wherever they wanted to play. I thought that, at worst, it helped me get my name out there.  And, in the process, I would gain more playing experience. That was my rationale for taking whatever chance to play that came along.

But an odd thing happened after several sessions. I started to notice that when I played with other musicians that were below my skill level, I didn’t play as well. My playing was uninspired and listless. I was just going through the motions and not really engaged. It became painful and was destroying my love of playing.
It was not the same when I played with people better than I am. Somehow, my playing would elevate. I somehow rose to the occasion and drew on skills and subtleties in my playing that often surprised me. I was more inspired and it showed.
Legal projects and clients can have the same affect. They can sap your inspiration and motivation. Sometimes you have to do this work to pay the bills. But don’t let it consume your practice. Always keep room in your schedule to do the work that inspires you. Focus on the work you want to do, not the work you have to do. You’ll be a much happier and, it also happens to follow, a much more  successful lawyer when you can keep a large portion of your practice working on the types of issues that challenge you and bring out your best work.