By Jenna Schiappacasse, director of client development, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP
Business development professionals in law firms are transitioning from providing behind-the-scenes advice to attorneys to interfacing with clients directly. This new role enables you to provide the value and perspective of a wide lens of the firm’s experience. Whether you focus on coaching your attorneys or are in a client-facing role, the same tenets ring true:
- Listen more, talk less. As the idiom goes, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally.” Ask about the client or prospect’s business or issue at hand. Ask what makes it run smoothly (or not), or what makes them passionate about it. Employ emotional intelligence to glean key themes that arise in conversation, and avoid the pitch until you know what would provide the most value.
- The devil is in the details. Actively listen for clues to things that matter to a client: the pressing issue their business is going to face in a few months, or maybe the kids’ names and ages or an anniversary date mentioned in passing. If you retain the information and recall it in the future, you have shown the client you know what matters to them, and, more importantly you have shown that they matter to you.
- Write it down. Figure out a retention strategy that works for you. While some of us are fortunate enough to have minds like steel traps, others need a little assistance in recalling facts about the numerous people with whom we come into contact. Keep copious notes in your CRM, contact list or even a Moleskine on your desk.
- Just do it. Try your best not to be afraid of rejection. Walking into a room full of strangers or a first meeting can be daunting, but it is also an opportunity to present your personal brand however you see fit. If the idea is truly paralyzing, consider taking another business development professional along to act as a guide and help to make introductions.
- Keep your eye on the prize. Define your strategy, and use a pipeline or spreadsheet to make sure you are not losing track of your prospects. It is easy to forget to follow up, or, worse, to follow through on a promise you made to someone. Make sure your word is your bond. Remember that this is an art, and that the players here are people ― real, live human beings. Don’t let them fall through the cracks.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of Strategies magazine, the flagship publication of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA). LMA members receive Strategies as part of their membership. If you are not a member of LMA, join today to gain access to this exclusive resource.