These quick sales and BD pointers have become such a part of my online brand that an old team of mine had a leather laptop case made for me with the hashtag printed on it, which led to my first (only?) 15 minutes of fame when someone at the airport recognized it and inquired as to whether or not I was the author!
Most of the advice I offer stems from years spent as a sales leader in legal technology, but the advice is easily translatable to the attorneys I work with and in-house business professionals alike.
Here are my top seven #samsales tips that can help you to elevate your business and client development and retention efforts.
If we all made time to proactively feed our pipelines consistently, the way we do when we are desperate for more work, it would pay off in dividends. I like to think of business development the same way I do of my 401k: I deposit small increments of effort and thoughtful outreach into my pipeline on a regular basis; eventually, when I need it, I can withdraw from that “account” and trust that I have amassed enough to support myself.
If I don’t seed that fund, there will be no pipeline there when I am in a slow spell, panicking and reaching out to everyone in my network and hoping for a quick return. It takes far less effort to stay on top of your pipeline and current client relationships than it does to scramble when you’re in trouble.
If your response to an RFP is met with a vague, “thank you for your submission; the team will review internally and get back to you,” make sure you don’t simply say thank you and then wait.
Probe further, using the 5 W’s we all learned in grade school: Who is involved in making the decision, and what do they see as the biggest problems to solve for? When is the deadline, and why is it scheduled then – is that budget season, or are there other extenuating circumstances that can help you to structure the pitch? Where is the decision-making team situated, and do you know someone on the ground there?
Sometimes, asking clarifying questions instead of patiently waiting can help you to react adeptly if a less than favorable response comes in, and you can still end up securing the work.
So many firms hope to land new business by offering reductions or fixed fees without even having a discussion about their standard rates.
Personally, I don’t enjoy working for free – do you? Your time is valued at the rate your firm has set and leading with a discount discredits the value that time inherently represents.
Perhaps cost isn’t even an issue, but exigency is…
Having a simple, up-front, strategic planning conversation with your client will help you to define where value is actually added for their unique situation. Do they prefer predictability in budgeting, and the discount isn’t as important as the structured fee? Perhaps cost isn’t even an issue, but exigency is – a discount wasn’t even needed as long as the fire was extinguished immediately.
Ask smart questions in the beginning, and you may end up with a more profitable agreement in the end, while the client gets exactly what they want.
We all want to make our clients happy, and they often think they know what is best for them despite us often holding a differing opinion. At times, kindly and carefully pushing back against your clients’ wishes is what is best for the end result.
…remember that you are providing a strategic advisory perspective
It may feel natural to want to assuage a fearful or insistent client by simply responding to their demands, but remember that you are providing a strategic advisory perspective and are working towards the most efficient and effective result. Be emotionally intelligent in your delivery, but stick to your guns. Come prepared with data and rationale as to why you disagree, but stay strong in your convictions.
Being a voice of reason, instead of only seeking to please, is a characteristic that will keep clients returning to your firm in the future.
Who is tired of hearing me say this?
The faster you are to react to a prospect’s new role, move to another firm, or glean data that helps you figure out their biggest problem before they do – the better.
…don’t sit on pertinent information for longer than necessary.
We live in an age of immediacy and instant gratification, so don’t sit on pertinent information for longer than necessary. Learn, strategize, then act. When a client has a new matter crop up, the person who was last on their radar often gets the work. Add value by offering industry insights or warning of potential pitfalls to avoid before a problem arises, reach out often and early, and don’t let your competition beat you to the punch.
No one likes to be wrong, and it is uncomfortable to have to own up to your mistakes. However, most people appreciate honesty and frankness, and would rather deal with whatever potential risk stems from the error sooner than later. Here, urgency is important in a different way.
Keep that in mind when dealing with clients for whom things have not gone perfectly; own the mistake and present options for how to rectify it with the least possible amount of headache or cost associated with the proposed solution. This is telling of your character and will beget trust in the future.
In the current state of social selling, there is no reason you should have to tackle your pipeline of prospects alone; if you utilize Sales Navigator to see where overlap occurs in your network and that of your colleagues, it is super simple to offer an introduction to someone within your firm who needs a warm lead, or ask for one in return.
It can be as simple as walking down the hall, or shooting a quick message to an international colleague who has a connection to someone you have been courting for a long time. Personal relationships drive our business, and technology like Navigator helps to simplify the process.
If these tips were helpful for you, consider connecting with me on LinkedIn so you can find my #samsales archive and follow future posts.