You’re never in a bad situation if you have a full pipeline. And you can’t build a full pipeline if you’re not doing business development.
Rich Bracken, a Business Development Manager at national law firm Stinson Leonard Street and Co-Chair of the Legal Marketing Association of Kansas City, is a frequent speaker and writer on many leadership and communication topics. With a focus on goal achievement and leadership, he arms his audience with the tools to set forth on an efficient path to success. An influential blogger, Richard is also a monthly contributor to Fox News in Kansas City speaking on motivational, self-improvement and leadership topics. Website: Rich Bracken | Twitter: @richbracken1
What’s the biggest myth that needs to be put to bed when working with attorneys on business development?
That business development is not sales and that sales is not involved in the legal business development process.
We’re all individual walking brands.
Lawyers deal with a lot of pointed, data-driven information. Legal marketers need to have a strong game when it comes to selling internal processes to get attorneys and leadership to buy into things.
The shift from a firm-driven market to a client-driven market.
Companies have gotten a lot smarter about how they do business and are more efficient about how they work with law firms and firms have to respond. They have to differentiate beyond performing legal work to include client service. Demonstrate why your service is better, why your touch points are better, why your team is better, why your firm is better. In other words, engage in sales and marketing.
How do marketers at the firm convince an attorney to do business development?
- The most valuable thing you can get is a referral. And that includes internally. Use an attorney you’ve trained on business development and who’s had success, as an internal advocate to convert the naysayers.
- “I don’t have the time,” is a common refrain. And an attorney’s time is money. You have to convince them that it’s worth the time. Show them the benefits including the return on investment (ROI). That’s where an internal advocate can point to a book of business which resulted from their business development efforts.
No matter what your client base looks like, whatever your book of business looks like, you’re never in a bad situation if you have a full pipeline. And you can’t build a full pipeline if you’re not doing business development.
Change is constant – be it the market or the direction of corporate counsel, including their decision to cut back on the number of law firms that handle their legal work. You need to be constantly proving your value. You don’t want to be left scrambling when your flagship client goes in another direction. There’s nothing worse in sales and business development than a desperate person.
What about thought leadership? Can that be used to increase business development efforts?
- Absolutely. It’s an investment.
- If you’re doing social media, writing a blog, doing a presentation, or video, or podcast, whatever the medium, it’s out there working for you while you’re doing other things.
- Find the channel that’s going to play to your strength.
- Putting your voice or image behind your consistent, relevant messaging, instead of just sending out yet another written alert, is one way to separate yourself from the pack.
How does an attorney prioritize the many different assets available for business development?
- First, identify what, if anything, they’re doing, including accounts that may be dormant.
- Ask: “What do you want to be know for?” A great presenter? Podcaster? Writer?
- Deconstruct and repurpose content for a higher ROI.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. It has to be real, authentic.
- Convey your knowledge with the right dose of personality.
- Marketers, don’t say: “Here are all the things you have to do.” Instead say something like: “Let me give you a 15 minute tip that will completely change how you do business development.” Quantify the time ahead of time.
- Think about social media as a 15-minute a day fitness routine.
We concluded the last few minutes of the interview riffing on the future of the legal profession as it relates to marketing, sales, and business development.
Finally, Richard offered some excellent suggestions for your reading list: