MORE CAKE ANYONE?
As published in Winslows Digital Tax Magazine, The Wize. To subscribe for free, please click here >
Business Growth Specialist Jeff Gosling, tells the WIZE how law firms can thrive in a tougher economy
Remember the ‘year in the life of’ wildlife documentary? Animals start out gorging on summer’s abundant food. Later it’s winter, now they rely on being at their best as a hunter or they starve.
In the legal sector there remains a huge opportunity for those who want to take it (arguably greater as many pull out of the race). When there is a smaller cake, you need a bigger slice, too many dangerously opt to try and live on less cake. This should be the kick needed to develop your hunting skills – marketing and sales. Being forced now will be the making of a brighter future than you would have had without this downtown.
Sales is often a dirty word in law, change it to ‘helping people buy’. Most rely on in-coming referrals through a focus on legal greatness. This often leads to frustration that prospects won’t pay the premium for your amazing advice, they simply can’t differentiate between everyone offering “partner-led”, “commercially-minded”, cost-effective” or “client focused” service. It leads to discounting, worrying about covering your costs, a reluctance to hire or retain great people and a reactive approach to business.
You’re sitting on a Goldmine
If you have some clients, referral partners and the phone has rung in the past you are likely sitting on a goldmine. Imagine being a few centimetres from gold, you simply need the tools, know-how and motivation to dig.
Proven time and again in a downturn, improve at attracting and converting prospects to clients now and you will succeed where others fall away. Learn to succeed in a low tide, DO NOT wait for the tide to rise.
Start by categorising clients based on size, profitability, the time they take up, whether they pay, use you repeatedly and refer. Tick all the boxes and they are Awesome, tick most and they are Basic. Caution, are those that need educating to become Basic or they drop to Dead, those you need to sack (you can no longer afford to keep them). Define your Awesome and market specifically for retaining and developing those and promoting your Basic clients.
Strategy one is simply to call Awesome and Basic clients and help them as much as possible, not only with legal issues. Becoming a trusted advisor requires you to have a network of others you can recommend. Trust is increased when we are known for helping regardless of whether we will benefit. Also ask for feedback. When you take it on-board it cements the relationship, get it in writing and that is your chocolate if you were a chocolate maker. You can talk about how nice it is or you can simply give prospects a taste.
Create Raving Fans
We are all in the business of creating raving fans. Mapping your ‘client journey’ and systemising it over time for consistency is vital. Prospects move from Know (consistent value-based marketing with a clear differentiator) to Like (able to learn about you and receive value in advance) to Trust (crucial). Then they Try (make it easy, reduce their risk) and Buy (on-boarding and great service), then to Repeat (deliver value) and Refer (pro-actively and rewarded). Finally, to Collaborate (raving fans, you are their trusted advisor, helping each other to succeed as part of a community).
Mastering this takes time, so did being a great solicitor. Break it down and score yourself on each aspect, then work on being at least average at one or two of the lowest scores this quarter. The result of minor incremental improvements is typically immediate. Ultimately it leads to a very high Lifetime Value of a Client.
Our existing community of clients and referrers is your goldmine, it takes strategy, effort, learning and consistency to mine it increasingly well over time. Being forced to start now is great, imagine your future when you’ve improved as a hunter, the season reverts to summer and there is less competition.
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