The new approach should be client-focused and collaborative “interaction, engagement and influence.”
Our world has been shaken, but I believe that our “generation can rule the population!” As you may be able to tell, I’m a John Mayer [music] fan. It’s not just about us; it’s about us partnering with clients and others in the whole process of finding, staying and growing with us and being active advocates and referrers.
Purpose must consider profit
And, it isn’t all about clients either! This might seem like a shocker statement and counter to many a blogger who proposes purpose over profit.
Something’s missing if a for-profit business isn’t going to maximize profit by optimizing lawyer/firm and client/community needs (and other things). Firms that shift radically to total client/community satisfaction are asleep at the wheel and will suffer the same fate as Saturn cars. Saturn became the case study for failure by not optimizing client focus and differentiation with the bottom line. According to many Harvard Business Reviews, Saturn lost thousands on every car it sold and eventually halted production in 2009 after about 25 years in the market losing money.
Finding the “green space” — i.e., profitable, purposeful differentiation — is still basic business practice.
Interaction, engagement and influence
Heavier things aside, the new deep is still three phases to you and your firm’s sustainability — interaction, engagement and influence. For clarity’s sake, this isn’t really new. Marketers talk about the “sales funnel,” “pipeline,” “buying/purchase cycle” and now the “client journey.” The important difference is that this process isn’t something you do to clients — it’s something that you work with clients on in an ongoing fashion.
Clients-to-be need to realize that they need a lawyer, whether a situation comes up that requires a lawyer or something they are made aware of triggers the need to look for a lawyer. Then they will ask for referrals and go through the long list, short list and possibly RFP or interview process to select a lawyer.
Do you really want to leave this all to chance? Did you know that you don’t even know about the business you could have had because you either weren’t found or were crossed off the list without any contact?
Lawyers and firms of the future are physically and virtually creating their own opportunities. They are improving their digital search tools so that they are easily found and placing themselves in the thoughts of clients-to-be by creating and getting the right content in front of the right eyes. These lawyers are driving their own opportunities for interaction and following up on them so that they are first in line when a legal need is triggered.
Good, old client service. How do you first engage with clients, discuss business terms and service agreements and ask for a retainer? How do you onboard your new clients and orient them? How do you understand their business and their vision for success? What are their communication preferences and their definition of responsiveness? Are you showing you are committed to their success and adding value to the relationship? Do you have a sustainable relationship? Are you deepening your clients’ business?
Collaborating with clients and having them feel that you are on their side is an ongoing commitment on which forward firms are killing traditional firms.
This is the newer part of the equation. Many of us are humble and leave it to chance whether clients advocate for our services, like, share, recommend, refer and defend us.
The lawyer/firm of the future is much more organized in this area. Social media platforms are harnessed and complement lawyers’ marketing and business development efforts. Client stories, testimonials, deals and suits experience are databased, placed and pushed out on a multitude of public and private publishing channels and materials. Internal and external referral programs are formalized and strengthened. Rankings, directories and profiles are used if they provide measurement, feedback and permissions to contact.
Proactively and prescriptively enabling clients and others to influence more prospects to interact and engage with you is business reality.
Solo acts have diminishing value — find your new value as part of the band
Find, mind and grind is such a lonely solo act. Interact, engage and influence is a symphonic experience that very much appeals to emerging generations at the cusp of purchasing power. Work with your clients, firm, staff and colleagues to make profitable music together.