You do have that natural gift if you look at business development as mitigating clients’ risks, resolving conflicts and providing solutions. Didn’t you go into law to help people and organizations? The BMW and Rolex are nice, too — but isn’t the mission of a lawyer to prevent and resolve conflict for people? Isn’t it a lawyer’s responsibility to advocate effectively for those who cannot?
Years ago I attended a session with Larry Richard, lawyer, doctor and creator of the Lawyer Brain, and the leadership of a past firm to understand “what makes lawyers tick” and to help us with internal and external relationships. Or — as Richard has on his website — “improving lawyer performance through personality science.” I, as a chief marketer, took the personality test, too, to see how similar and dissimilar I was to the personality traits of a lawyer.
Lawyers and BDers do much the same thing
Funny thing that completely shocked me was that I lined up almost exactly to a “litigator’s profile.” How could that be? I saw myself as a different species and most lawyers see marketers as aliens! Richard discovered, through thousands of lawyer personality tests, that successful rainmakers have empathy, can effectively persuade and are resilient. Successful marketers have to be this way as well.
Empathy: Lawyers need to understand their audiences — judge, juries, witnesses and opponents. Marketers need to understand their target consumers.
Persuasion: Lawyers need to do due diligence, create arguments, get to the heart of the matter, create a sound story and repeat the process in many ways to obtain desired outcomes. Marketers need to research, develop positioning and messaging and motivate buyers through persuasion techniques.
Resilience: You win some and you lose some. Lawyers have to pick themselves and their clients up, move on to the appeal or figure out the next best solution. Likewise, the percentage of new clients versus those pitched is low. Business developers have to pick themselves up and keep on trying.
Same techniques — different lexicons
Lawyers and business developers essentially apply many of the same techniques — but they use different words. So you are already a gifted business developer if you use your legal techniques for client development as well. Think of your JD as an MBA!
• Questioning turns into Networking and Probing: Meet and discover your clients and their business. Understand their issues, fears, needs and dreams.
• Billable Time turns into Business Development Time: You are trained to use your time wisely. Do the same with potential clients. Select them carefully for mutually rewarding, long-term relationships. Spread yourself around less and focus on value outcomes.
• Legal solutions turn into client solutions: Re-frame technical legal solutions into longer-term client benefits. Help clients achieve their dreams with your help.
• Billing turns into Keeping in Contact: After you serve your clients, you follow up with sending the bill. Use your invoice as an opportunity to reach out, get some feedback on your service and start probing for more opportunities to help your clients.
Happy lawyering/business developing.