Friday, March 8, 2013

How Can I Avoid Making Cold Calls

No one likes to make cold calls. Not me, not you and certainly not the person you are calling. But cold calls are a necessary evil that you must do. But, not for the reasons that you think. More on that in a bit. 

For now, here are some ways to avoid making cold calls.
The difference between a cold call and one that is warm lies in whether or not the person you are calling knows you or not. Remember the adage, "It is not who you know. But rather, who knows you." With that in mind, here are some activities you can engage in which will help your prospects get to know you.

o   Write an article

o   Publish a study

o   Give a speech

o   Hold a free seminar

o   Network at a business function

o   Ask for opinions
people love to give

o   Call a referral source and ask for an introduction.
Lastly, make some cold calls. Not because it will generate work, they rarely do. But do it because there is simply no better way to learn how to sell. There's no better training in how to manage a conversation to generate interest in your services.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The 60 Minute Crash Prep Guide

"I have 60 minutes before I am meeting with a potential client, what do I do?"

You get a call and have the opportunity to meet with a potential client. But you only have an hour before you meet. No time for exhaustive research. What information is most important to get before the meeting.?Here's a list of what you need to know to get through that first meeting with your new client.

Read through the company website. Check the press releases section for interesting developments. Read the Chairman's letter in the latest annual report, if the company is public. Review the Board of Directors and note the make up of the board and any who may be current clients of the firm.

Google the prospects’ name. You want to know what your prospect has been writing about, what professional associations she may be involved in. Maybe some personal interests will be revealed in your search. If you can find out and have time, Google the contact's bosses name and learn what you can about them.

Check for past relationships in your firm. If your firm has ever done work for that prospect, you'll want to know about the cases or transactions and how they went. If other attorneys were involved it would be helpful to speak to them.

Check for past cases related to the company. Learn what you can about the reason that they are asking to meet with you. Check for past cases and their track record in those cases. What value can you bring that they may not have received from their previous lawyer.

Google two or three of the company's biggest competitors. Get some basic understanding of their competitive field and who the biggest players are that they compete against.

The above information is the bare minimum that you should know about the company prior to meeting with them. It will tell you what you need to know to understand the basics of their business, their experience with your firm (if any) and the markets in which they operate.

Lastly, prepare the questions that you want to ask to fill in the information. Keep in mind that a request to meet with you is a strong buying signal. Approach the meeting as if you are starting your work with them. Because chances are, you will be. So be prepared.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Using Mentors and Alcoholics

There's nothing more gratifying to me than helping a younger or less experienced person grow into a role that will result in a better life for him or her. I believe this is the case for most people. Mentoring another person is one form of the deeply rewarding process of giving back to our community. It also happens to make the Mentor feel pretty good the way getting out of oneself and giving back unselfishly always does.

In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, mentors in the program are called Sponsors. The Sponsor's role is to guide the newly sober in his understanding and journey through the 12 steps of the program. There's no defined process though. Every sponsor does it differently.You learn to sponsor from your sponsor. Sponsoring skills are passed from one generation to the next through trial and error. But there are lessons one can learn from the sponsorship process of AA.

The Sponsee asks the Sponsor based upon their understanding of how well that sponsor has mastered his own 'program'. Sponsees gravitate toward those that appear to maintain sobriety effortlessly. Sometimes you find the right sponsor on the first try. Sometimes not. Some people use 'temporary sponsors' until they have a better understanding of what they are looking for. Sponsees change sponsors based on what they think they need or don't need at that time. Proximity of age, background, education level, ethnicity and other criteria are ignored (except gender due to the sensitivity of the issues dealt with). The only thing that matters is, does that person have what I want or need right now. 

AA Sponsors provide a really affirmative guide to how to coach and support others who are learning the ropes. Its informal, effective and central to the program's success as a means to overcome alcoholism. I encourage you to find an alcoholic (non-practicing, of course), buy him a drink and pick his brain about sponsoring. You'll learn a great deal about mentoring in the process.

Your choice of a mentor should be similarly organic. You should not have pre-set ideas of how your mentor is going to work with you.  And not be afraid to change mentors if the fit is not right. You can also ask a mentor to be a temporary mentor until you find one that you want to work with long term. But the point is that you should find another lawyer good at business development and ask them to mentor you.

Mentoring has taken off in many law firms and I believe it is because the mentor and mentee both get significant benefits from the process. Because time is the inventory of the practice, there is a fundamental difference between mentoring in professional services and AA program sponsorships. As such, making the right match and keeping the relationship positive and productive for both requires following certain ground rules. For those looking to be mentored, the following points will help you form the foundation of a relationship that will hopefully last your entire career.
1. Use your mentor wisely. Be prepared when you meet. Provide possible solutions to your issues and get her opinion on those solutions rather than simply bringing your problems.

2. Don’t overuse or abuse your privilege. Don’t encourage others to use your mentor. Don’t take too much of their time. Don't whine and complain. Stay positive.

3. Change mentors when you are not getting what you need. It's not always a perfect fit. When you sense the fit is not working, make a change. People's needs change as they grow. Neither party should be insulted or embarrassed if the fit is not right. And, often a little distance can show you that the fit was better than you thought at the time. You can always go back.

4. Thank your mentor. Find ways to give back by mentoring others. Follow through on their suggestions and report back the successes- your success is the satisfaction that your mentor gets out of the relationship. Be grateful and demonstrate that gratitude by being as good as your mentor believes you are.

Mentoring can be a highly rewarding relationship for both attorneys. Go out and find a mentor. Get building that relationship and following her advice. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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 may be. For one, multiple practice presentations require the buyer to make multiple decisions. It is much easier to decline all the practices offered than agree to only one. 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.

Clients rarely abruptly stop using the services of an attorney. Instead, they more frequently 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, March 4, 2013

Parse Your Offer into Small 'Yes'able Packages

It's difficult for clients to make a decision on large, complex offerings of services. When stakes are high, the risk of making the wrong decision is also high. The organizational consensus and 'processing' can be daunting and take months. Caution turns into questions which become paralysis.

But offers which are parsed into consumable bites which are easy to agree to make it easier for clients to say yes to the total offer package.

The process for this involves breaking the project into bite sized consummable pieces, each with risk and rewards that are relatively insignificant when compared to the complete offering package. Presented in growing levels of accomplishment, the client can see how each step achieves the objectives necessary to move on to the next step. This presentation technique enables the client to build on his understanding of the process and the challenges and reduces the perception of an overwhelming large decision to a more simple, and less intimidating series of small decisions. And a 'yes' after each stage of the project conditions a 'yes' for the overall project.