In this episode of the Legal Marketing 2.0 Podcast, Guy is joined by Catherine Zinn. Catherine Zinn is the Chief Client Officer at Baker Botts, an international law firm in the energy and technology sectors. As the Chief Client Officer, Catherine oversees social media, marketing, communications, sector-focused sales, client development, coaching, business development, and lateral partner integration. Catherine acts as the liaison of Baker Botts, where she connects high-profile executives, alumni, and other friends of the firm to jobs and public board company seats with an emphasis on diversity. Lastly, she also serves as a board member for various for-profit and nonprofit companies. Catherine joins us today to discuss sector-focused sales and client development.
1. What do you think is driving the hiring of Chief Client Officers?
What my colleagues and I have is a singular focus on having the interest of the client represented in everything that we do. We try to make every communication to our client list that is sent out, how we engage with our clients and how we spend their time delighting them. We say everything begins and ends with the clients. You can not afford to not have someone who is singularly focused on the clients in a cross-functional manner.
2. What does every client want from their law firm?
I think back to a quote I heard from a client at a previous firm I worked at. He looked at me and said “Tell the lawyers that they are all getting it wrong. When they approach me they talk about themselves, then their law firms, then their business, and then me. Catherine, they have it exactly backwards. I want them to demonstrate their interest in me personally, then my company, and then how the law firm may or may not be able to serve me.” The client wants you to focus on her first. They want us to help them look good, to look around corners for them, and to talk to them about benchmarking.
3. Why are sales and law firms exploding, and why do you think they are here to stay?
For those of you who have not yet adopted a traditional sales function, I invite you to think about the following: what client of yours does not have a sales team? They all have a sales team. How does the client feel, and how does the client benefit from working with a salesperson? The client feels great about it as long as that salesperson is listening well, understands enough about the business, and works on their areas of improvement.
4. What are the top three things from a decision-making perspective a lawyer can do to guide you to success?
Number one is if you’re going to thrive in this current environment, you have to go faster. Make decisions quickly and know that some of your initiatives are not going to work. Number two is you need to know who you are. In the case of Baker Botts, we focus on tech and energy. Our focus is split equally between the two. We know who we are, and we do not try to pretend to be someone we are not. Lastly, don’t look internally. Ask yourself if the client is better off if we do that. I think it helps make decisions much more quickly if you apply the is it good for our client first.
As Catherine pointed out, clients are the beginning and end of everything at your practice. A Chief Client Officer has to make sure everything s/he does benefit the client. From coaching to sales, individuals in Catherine’s position are singularly focused on the satisfaction of their clients. To learn more about ways to improve client relations, view our webinar Best Practices for Client Alerts.