Present a winning argument to your partners with these tips.
This article was originally featured in the third quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter.
Pitching partners on a new marketing or business development initiative can feel a bit overwhelming. It may feel even more daunting if the project or initiative is one with big dollar signs attached. We’ve heard it before: “I went to school for law, not marketing.” (Right?) But that’s precisely the reason why we as marketers need to prepare for our own internal pitches with the same thought and care that we ask our lawyers to give to their own business development pitches.
We need to prove that, when necessary, we are capable of communicating our needs to benefit the firm and our teams. Most importantly, we have a better understanding of what it takes to get the initiative up and running, along with the upsides for the lawyers once we reach the end goal. You can add your own personal business style to these helpful hints to present a winning argument to your partners.
Define the need, not the want.
Yes, it is time to revisit your second grade social studies class where the very first concept introduced was defining needs versus wants. Ask yourself a few key questions and take the time to predict what questions firm leadership will ask you. Why do we really need this initiative/tool? What can we accomplish that otherwise wouldn’t be doable? Is this an initiative that can really benefit everyone, or is the benefit too limited — either to an individual lawyer or small group of lawyers? If you can’t confidently answer these questions, you may need to take a closer look.
Formulate the business case.
In order to articulate exactly what the initiative is, you should understand it well enough to know why/how your firm would benefit from the initiative. Do your homework — and lots of it! Research the topic; consider your marketplace and your competition, and what/how they are approaching the topic. If appropriate, ask your fellow legal marketers, and, most importantly, prove you’ve taken this step. Provide some metrics or research with expected ROI and KPIs. If the initiative is a tool or technology where the options are endless, know what those options are, and narrow it down to a few. Be sure to talk to their customers, check references, demo the product and, if possible, get a trial.
It is crucial to have conversations with your marketing partner or lawyers heavily involved in business development to get their buy-in. Notice, the word “conversations” is plural. This means you should introduce the project, let it process, mention it again and keep talking about it. The more lawyers understand a concept or tool, the better success you’ll have in executing it. It’s important to create momentum around the idea. If enough partners are talking about it, the harder it will be for firm leadership to say “no.”
Set a meeting to make your pitch.
It is important to show firm leadership that you are taking this initiative seriously by doing the necessary homework, reviewing options, presenting viable solutions and setting time to schedule a meeting where it is the sole item on the agenda. It signals that this initiative is a new idea that required thoughtful planning and that you are asking for their thoughtful consideration in return. Have materials to share, such as a PowerPoint deck, to help you present your initiative in a planned sequence.
Close the deal.
Lastly, as with all pitches, ask for the work! It is often the most forgotten and most uncomfortable step in the process, but if we are practicing what we preach, it is a must. If the answer is, “we will consider and get back to you,” ask for a timeframe. If the answer is “maybe,” ask what is missing to convince them. If the answer is “yes,” congratulations – and prepare yourself to be even busier putting that new initiative into motion!
Debra L. Henry is the assistant director of marketing for Gordon Feinblatt LLC.