Friday, April 19, 2013

Tune Up Sign 2: Discounts

The vast majority, if not all of your quotes and bids, include a discount on your standard rates, even in cases where a discount is not specifically requested.

What does this indicate?
If true, this may indicate that the value of the solution has not been adequately communicated to the client. It may also indicate hourly rates which are out of synch with competitors, have increased over the years faster than market rates or proposals and bids which have not clearly monetized the value or return on investment of the solution. It can also indicate a lack of belief in the firm’s capabilities or solutions.
Requests for discounts are inquiries into the value of the services that you provide. Caving in to the request before the underlying concerns have been identified and addressed simply reduces profits, erodes attorney morale and confirms to clients that your services are overvalued.
This is the second in a ten part series explaining signs that indicate that your firm or personal marketing program could use a tune up.

Tomorrow: What does low referral volume indicate?
As always, if I can help you fix the ‘kinks’ in your business development, give Eric a call at 502-693-4731. You’ll find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ten Signs Your Marketing Needs a Tune Up: RFPs

If the car you drive has always had a faint knock in the engine, and you don’t notice a sudden drop in mileage or speed performance, it’s easy to ignore the knock after a while. The ‘no harm, no foul’ nature of the knock soon turns in to ‘the car runs fine’.

A trained mechanic, on the other hand, hears the knock and knows that it means a loss in mileage performance of several miles per gallon. The mechanic knows what to listen for, what noises mean and how to fix them. Good mechanics even know how to calculate how long before the fixed knock will pay for itself in reduced gas consumption.

Detecting ‘knocks’ in the business development performance of your law firm is not easy. But there are signs that you can look for which can indicate areas that can be optimized to improve performance.

Tune up sign 1:
The firm responds to more than 90% of the RFP/RFI requests it receives and wins one quarter of those requests or less.

What does this indicate?

If true, this indicates that the firm does not have a formal process to assess the worthiness of responding to each RFP. As a result it responds to nearly every request wasting a great deal of attorney time and energy. It also indicates that there is no formal response improvement process in place to evaluate and adjust responses to improve the firm’s win rates.

Many firms respond to requests without proper pre-qualification assessments, without speaking to the issuer to understand the originals and objectives of the RFP and often don’t follow up after to understand how the firm performed in the beauty contest. Often firms lack a formal process which can reduce attorney time spent on completing the process or fail to include information which can differentiate the firm’s services such as value added services, technologies and systems and staff roles in serving client needs.
This is the first in a ten part series explaining signs that indicate that your firm or personal marketing program could use a tune up.

Tomorrow: What do discounts indicate?
As always, if I can help you fix the ‘knocks’ in your business development, give Eric a call at 502-693-4731. You’ll find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

7 Questions to Help You Be More Efficient in Marketing Your Practice

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you clarify whether or not your marketing activities are effective.

· Will the projected revenue of the marketing activity cover the cost of the marketing and the overhead of any new work generated?

· Do I understand the audience that this activity targets and is it the right audience for my practice?

· Comparing all of the audiences of the various activities available to me, which ones offer the best qualified audience for the least amount of money? (Compare across activities by calculating the cost per one thousand people reached in each activity).

· Is the message in my activity about me and my practice or does it describe the benefits of solving a particular problem. (People don’t buy experience, they buy solutions).

· Do I clearly communicate the one or two ways in which I am different from my competitors and offer prospects a unique value proposition?

· Have I made my offer easy to understand and eliminated legal jargon from my messages?

· Am I easy to find, speak to and easy to do business with? Have I reduced the obstacles to contacting me and engaging my services?

While these questions won’t replace the value of getting professional assistance in marketing your practice, they will help focus your thinking on which activities are likely to produce the best results and ensure you have given yourself the best shot at landing new clients from your marketing activities.
As always, if I can help you be more efficient in your marketing, call Eric at 502-693-4731. You will find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Law Firm Differentiation Interview recently interviewed me on the topic of law firm differentiation. Check out the article here.

As always, if I can help you differentiate your firm or practice, don't hesitate to call Eric at 502-693-4731. You'll find I'm an eager resources and that it costs nothing to talk.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The One Simple Secret That Leads to Rainmaking Success

For some time now I have been espousing the power of gifts (giving of your time, doing favors, making connections and sharing your knowledge) as a means to increasing referrals to you. But the key to producing proactive referrals to your practice is not the act of giving, it is the act of giving without the expectation of reciprocity- a key component of the give and take of referrals that I observed exclusively in the behaviors of top rainmakers.

I coined the term, ‘Favorking’, to capture this behavioral theme of demonstrating compassion and genuine interest in others by listening for and giving, without the expectation of reciprocity, small gifts and favors of your experience, connections, knowledge and position. The key difference between $1 million book of business plus rainmakers and those that actively work the relationships in their networks but do not produce significant results is that the rainmakers are ‘givers’ who seem to help others without the slightest hint of expecting their assistance to pay off in the future. They often help people who are in no position to reciprocate. The language and gestures they use are genuinely helpful and they avoid any talk suggestive of a payback. Even when offered, they decline preferring instead to ‘pay it forward’, authentically taking the recipient off the hook from having to find a time and means to re-balance the scorecard.

In contrast, ‘takers’ try to get as much as possible from others while contributing less in return. Takers help only when they expect the personal benefits to exceed their time and attention. Their assistance is calculated and unknowingly transparent resulting in few referrals to their practice.

Most attorneys fall somewhere in the middle. These are “matchers” where the norm is to help those who help them, maintaining an equal balance of give and take. Although matchers benefit from referral collaboration more than takers do, they are inefficient vehicles for exchange, as people trade favors in closed loops. That is, they dip into their existing network of ‘qualified’ referral contacts, limiting themselves to only those that they believe can help them in return.

A new book by Harvard Professor Adam Grant entitled Give and Take  supports my hypothesis but goes one step further by demonstrating the financial rewards which companies with “giver” cultures experience over those with “taker” or even “matcher” cultures. In his just released book, he provides evidence from several studies that demonstrates that the frequency with which employees help one another (without the expectation of reciprocity) predicts sales revenues in pharmaceutical units and retail stores; profits, costs, and customer service in banks; creativity in consulting and engineering firms; productivity in paper mills; and revenues, operating efficiency, customer satisfaction, and performance quality in restaurants.

So, am I going too far to extend this theory into referral tactic success? I don’t think so. But I will acknowledge that there are very real cultural and operational obstacles that obstruct the average attorney from adopting this behavior as part of her regular business development routine. These include the entrenched ‘tit for tat’ assumption that many have in regard to referrals, close monitoring of billable hours, competitive ‘eat what you kill’ pay structures, a fear of the time being perceived as ineffective or wasteful and other challenging issues.
And internal referrals suffer from the similar, if not more pronounced, obstacles resulting in reduced cross marketing and mentoring effectiveness in law firms. There may be support for this view as well. According to Cornell economist Robert Frank, many organizations are essentially winner-take all markets, dominated by zero-sum competitions for rewards and promotions. When leaders implement forced-ranking systems to reward individual performance, they stack the deck against giver cultures.

 It is undoubtedly a leap of faith to make it your mission to find ways to help others. But, I believe that if you look closely at the best rainmakers you know, you will find that they are living this important distinction of ‘givers’ and act without the expectation of reciprocity.  Better yet, try being a giver to the next person you meet, qualified to return the favor or not, and see if doesn’t make you feel good. Believe it or not, acting with kind intent toward others comes back to you in good referral karma.
As always, if I can help you become a 'giver', please don't hesitate to call me at 502-693-4731. You'll find that I am an eager resource and that is costs nothing to talk.