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.  

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