As appeared on LinkedIn on April 11, 2023. In professional services, it’s the people who create the business.
In marketing an organization, the macro decisions matter: What is your organization’s brand aspiration? How do you recruit new lawyers? What is the culture and compensation system, and how do those impact developing clients?
While all of those elements affect the success of a law firm, the one thing they don’t address is the differences that individual lawyers have in how skillful they are at developing clients.
For a long time, we held on to the principles that David Maister coined (that worked well for the time) that there were “finders,” “minders,” and “grinders.”
It was a great way of looking at the law firm partnership if you could depend on a few super-human players to develop business, and they never fled to other firms.
In 2023, there is an expectation that every lawyer, particularly at the partner level, should be capable of developing business.
Bob quietly turns existing clients into apostles who refer him matters and new clients. Carol may be a dynamic rainmaker, using her network and LinkedIn and speaking around the globe to meet potential clients. Each lawyer has their own way of cultivating their practice.
While it’s a monster of a challenge to manage the modern partnership, more attention needs to be given to the individual lawyer, whether it means having a talent management function that provides thoughtful internal individual coaching, or one that offers external coaches to work with individual partners.
What can an in-house or external coach work on with a client? Some of the elements might include:
🌟 Defining where the partner’s practice is, who the potential clients are, and the individual’s unique selling proposition.
🌟 Working with the partner to develop a plan, in conjunction with the firm’s objectives, to help promote and fulfill the partner’s agenda.
🌟 Building a timeline with the partner to hold them personally accountable for completing the marketing tasks they agree to complete.
🌟 Providing tactical advice on everything from LinkedIn to new business approaches. Many find role-playing in a new business situation to be a helpful exercise.
🌟 Practicing the best ways and the language to use when asking for new business.
My practice focuses solely on business development and marketing, and in addition to my regular work, I take on just ten clients a year. Still there are other great coaches out there to help with everything from leadership (the brilliant Lauren Krasnow, JD, PCC and uber-smart Natalie Loeb and Loeb Leadership) to career issues (Marianne Ruggiero and Carolyn Sandano are both amazing in this area.) If you are an individual practitioner and don’t have a firm to guide you, email me. I will connect you to someone who can help.