13 Sep Book Review – Think Again by Nischwitz
I want to share with you an outline of a book I read that is one I wish I wrote: The book is Think Again, Innovative Approaches to the Business of Law, by Jeffrey L. Nischwitz, published by ABA (American Bar Association). What I like about this book is that it very clearly explains professional services marketing by reminding the readers, legal professionals, that they are engaged in building a business as well as a profession. Seems obvious, but for professionals, the business part of their practice is often not their favorite activity, but unfortunately, you don’t get to practice law unless you have clients. And clients are gained through your business development efforts.
Enough of my puff. Here’s an outline of what’s inside the book. Buy it on the ABA website: http://www.abanet.org/abastore/index.cfm?section=main&fm=Product.AddToCart&pid=5110577
What’s Inside Think Again:
Common goals of law firms:
- Secure more clients
- Operate like a business
- Deliver excellent legal services in the most cost-effective means possible
- Differentiate itself
“Success in the business of law generally follows when lawyers think like entrepreneurs, but deliver like professionals.”
In today’s competitive environment, lawyers must build relationships with clients and prospective clients based on …
3 key elements of relationship marketing:
Rapport: your client “likes” you.
Competence: your client thinks you know what you are doing. You have credibility.
Value: your client thinks you are worth your rate. i.e. You add value to them and their business (you save them money, make them money, save them time, solve a problem, or simplify their lives).
5 Critical Steps to Building a Great Law Firm:
- Define your perfect client.
- Define a plan to pursue that market.
- Differentiate yourself and your firm.
- Deliver great performance and experience for clients. (It is your clients’ opinions that matter here.)
Build Relationships: proactively manage the flow, the development, and the evolution of those relationships.
Building a Client-Centric Law Firm:
“If we want to be totally focused on clients, then we need to find out from our clients what we need to do better and then do it.”
“The reality in today’s legal market is that highly valued lawyers are those who are also good business developers. While there is still a place for the pure producer/technician, economic realities make business development a vital ingredient in the mix of a lawyer’s professional skills.”
Purposeful Business Development: Have a Plan!
Develop Results Goal: To increase fees collected by $50,000 this year.Develop Supporting Activity Goals:
- Talk to existing clients at least once every 90 days
- Meet with existing referral sources at least once a quarter.
- Write at least 3 articles and 3 speeches per year.
- Attend at least 2 business networking events every month.
Stop Wasting Your Money!
“We need to stop looking to the marketing department to bring in new business. Professional services are relationship-driven businesses, and they always have been….the marketing department [written materials and website] are merely tools to support the professionals…”
The Role of Traditional Marketing: Advertising: Branding requires an effective and attention-getting message, market reach and repetition. This is usually the most costly option. An exception: niche advertising for a unique practice area can bring in new clients if executed effectively.
Sponsorships: If used primarily for branding, you could be wasting your money. Participate and invest based on your decision to be involved, to help, and to support the charity or organization. These one-on-one relationships will result in new business.
Marketing Materials: A necessary evil. Tools for business development, but cannot be expected to bring in new clients by themselves.
“Only through repetition, systematic contact, systematic education, re-education, and the personal touch you as a lawyer provide, can you be confident that your clients will be kept up to date on your range of services.”
“Sales Is Not a Four-Letter Word!”
“Most….rainmakers long ago recognized that even as lawyers they must function as sales professionals by doing what [they] do to develop more opportunities and to convert those opportunities in to new business. ….Is it appropriate to “ask for the sale” with respect to legal services? Without exception, the answer is absolutely, yes—you must ask for the business when you are talking with clients, prospects and referral sources…Because the same statistics that apply to every other …sales professional also apply to us as lawyers, if we don’t ask for the business, we will not get it.”