The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law
Key strategies for generating profitable new clients
Women lawyers have numerous choices in the actions they can take to generate new client work. By focusing on the following strategies, women lawyers can generate profitable new clients while substantially increasing their ROITMT—Return On Invested Time, Money, and Talent.
Professionals often hear reasons why they are not retained to provide their service. Women lawyers are no different. Not being retained for an attractive matter can be a disappointment. Knowing the reason(s) for not being retained can be a blessing. When lawyers know why they were not retained they can choose to make adjustments to enhance their client generation potential.
Use objections to your advantage
By anticipating objections, lawyers can prepare mentally to not only respond, but to counter those objections.
A convincing counter to most—if not all of the above objections—is within the capacity of most lawyers. For example, one of the more frequent objections lawyers continue to hear is that the lawyers’ fees are too high. Sound familiar?
A logical counter to that objection can be found in one word: value. One possible response is to offer to put your prospective client in touch with existing clients who will be able to give their opinion about the cost/value of your work.
Needless to say, the lawyer needs to have in her marketing arsenal a cadre of not just happy clients; she must have a cadre of advocates. Producing advocates brings us to our next focused strategy.
The more advocates you have, the more money you make An objective for women lawyers is to increase the number of individuals she can claim as an advocate. An advocate is a client who not only has great confidence in the lawyer’s technical skills, but also values her business and professional acumen. The advocate says favorable things about the lawyer without the lawyer even knowing it. An advocate is one who the lawyer can ask for help in meeting targeted prospects. Turning clients into advocates is one of the most efficient means for building and sustaining a successful practice.
To develop clients into advocates requires adding value to the lawyer-client relationship. Identifying methods for adding value becomes more apparent when the lawyer understands the client’s business agenda and his or her personal agenda. What does this client want to achieve in his capacity as CEO, managing director, or financial director? What do they want to achieve on a personal level for their company, division, or department? Where do they want their career to take them in the next three years? Knowing how to help clients achieve these objectives produces the kind of utility they value. Examples of such value includes introducing clients to deal makers and influentials, or providing information unique to their business or industry.
Most company leaders consider that knowing the client company’s mission is the most important criteria when considering retaining legal counsel. Demonstrating knowledge of—not just talking about—a client’s strategic direction is one important way for the woman lawyer to build valuable trust with that client.
The one question women lawyers’ clients need to be asked
Client surveys are nice, but you don’t need them. Those responsible for growing law firms only need to ask clients one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our law firm to a friend or colleague? ”Women lawyers should be asked that question at the end of client engagements. Someone other than the lawyer doing the client matter needs to ask that question. The answer tells a great deal about the fee/value of the services the lawyer provides, and about the potential for a client to become an advocate.
Why is willingness to highly recommend a lawyer such a strong indicator of the lawyer’s practice growth potential? First, when clients recommend you, they are putting their reputations on the line. They will take that risk only if they are intensely loyal to that lawyer. Second, those loyal clients—those advocates—become your secondary sales force, a new business resource that you have earned through trust-building behavior.
Remember: clients do business with, and refer business to, lawyers they know, like, and trust. By focusing marketing efforts on the above strategies, women lawyers will become better known and liked by clients. When lawyers implement the steps for turning clients into advocates, trust between client and lawyer has already been secured. ■