Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 12: Counterintelligence

Business development battles cannot be won without dedicated and motivated troops. But motivating attorneys to develop business can sometimes be challenging. Many attorneys went to law school specifically because they didn’t want to ‘sell.’ Just the mention of selling can evoke thoughts of a loud used-car salesman in a bad plaid jacket trying to overcome objections and ‘close’ a deal. That is not a motivator, by any means.

Sometimes the best way motivate your attorneys to develop business is to use counterintelligence, because what makes a great business developer can sometimes be counterintuitive. While initially it may seem to some attorneys that they need to ‘sell’ themselves to develop business, actually the opposite is true. To develop business, lawyers shouldn't try to sell anything. In fact, they shouldn’t spend much time at all talking about themselves, their services or their firm.

Instead, to develop business lawyers should focus on the prospective Client – and try to talk as little as possible. They should try to learn as much as they can about the prospect and his or her business and industry. They should ask good questions to gain an understanding of the Client’s needs and challenges. Most importantly, they should stop talking and really listen to the Client. Only then can they find opportunities where they may be able to help the Client.

That’s the real counterintelligence in business development: it’s not about selling – it’s about helping. Once they realize that this is true, your troops will be much more motivated – and much more successful – on the business development battlefield.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Apple a Day Keeps CRM Failure Away Part 5 - Slicing the Apple

When it comes to CRM success, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are, however, some almost universal ways to fail. Trying to roll out the software to everyone in the firm all at once is one good way. Trying to get the lawyers to sit through point-and-click classroom training is another. Also good: trying to deploy every bell and whistle, feature and function during the initial rollout. These are some sure-fire ways to create frustration - and maybe even cause a minor mutiny among the key stakeholders. Ask any of the firms who have done these things - although they probably won't have time to talk to you because they are in the middle of trying to roll out their system for the second or third time.

In reality, the most successful CRM implementations are achieved one small bite at a time. For instance, because CRM has so many different features, it can - and often should - be implemented differently for different groups. For one practice area, it might allow for tracking activities, for another, opportunities. One group might want to send out eAlerts while another may want to manage events. One practice might want to create an experts database while another wants to track referrals. 

The great thing about CRM is that it can be many things to many users. But the most important thing is to understand that success is also defined by those users. This means you have to engage your end users early and often. But don't expect them to tell you what they want the CRM to do. In most cases, they couldn't... because they have no idea what it can do. Instead, you should inquire about their business needs and issues. What problems are they trying to solve? What processes are they trying to automate? What objectives do they want to achieve? It’s our job to think of all of the ways CRM can help. If we slice the apple this way, then there will be plenty of CRM success to go around.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 11: Purple Hearts

Alas, you are not going to win every business development battle. It can be daunting to put yourself out there in the field, face-to-face with Clients and prospects, who may either accept or reject your advances. While most of them will not be outright hostile, it's a fact that some of them are going to say ‘no.’ And when this happens, it can be tempting to retreat… to pull back and set up camp in your office, safely barricaded behind your desk. But that is the wrong battle strategy.

As confident as we attorneys appear, it’s really hard for most of us to take rejection. We take that ‘no’ very personally. Face it, most of us were not the ‘cool kids’ in high school. We were more likely to be the valedictorian or president of the Honor Society (guilty) than the captain of the football team or head cheerleader. And even though things turned out ok – sure, we’re successful professionals now – some of us still carry around that stigma from childhood. To some of us, a ‘no’ is more than just a ‘no’ – it’s puts us right back there in 10th grade being picked last for the team. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Apple a Day Keeps CRM Failure Away Part 4 - The Golden Apple

Arguably, the most important thing a CRM system can help a law firm with is business development – attracting and retaining top Clients. This is the reason a lot of firms invest in CRM systems in the first place. Actually, this is the reason a lot of firms do a lot of the things they do.

The problem is that, after the fact, those same firms often complain that their CRM systems are not providing a return on their investments. The reason has less to do with the CRM technology and more to do with the fact that the system either isn't being used properly – or at all – or that the firm hasn’t found a way to adequately measure ROI.

Here are a few measurable things that CRM systems can do to enhance the firm’s business development efforts:
  • Communications can be targeted to key Clients and prospects to provide opportunities to generate business related to changes or developments in laws or regulations.
  • Invitations to events can be distributed to key prospects to provide opportunities to get face-to-face to discuss key issues and strategies for addressing them.
  • Client team meetings can be planned and scheduled to identify cross selling opportunities.
  • Information from Client surveys can be communicated to improve Client service and retention.
  • Reminders can be set to enhance follow-up after events.
  • Pipelines can be created to track business development progress with Clients and prospects. 
  • Financial information can be shared to help determine who the firm’s top Clients are so that the firm can serve them better and try to grow them – and to help identify who the firm’s at risk Clients may be so that the firm can serve them better and try to retain them. 

One other thing to remember when it comes to ROI on CRM investments: CRM is about people, process and technology – and when it fails to deliver ROI, it’s more often an issue caused by the people, not the technology. All the technology in the world isn't going to get business in the door if the attorneys aren’t willing to walk out that door and go get face-to-face with Clients.