07 Nov Attorneys Should be Great at Communicating and Insight Selling
As early as the 1980 ‘s lawyers began to pursue the awkward ‘sale’ process not long after the 1977 Bates decision authorizing lawyers to advertise; it was uncomfortable and slothful. Over the decades, consultants have adapted sales methods from the conventional model to advisory sales. The strategy has proven to be successful for skilled service providers who still have to market themselves and be professionals who represent customers. The advisory business model has included insight sales in recent years – the perfect solution for lawyers.
Conventional Sales Sequence and Method:
- Generate Lead
- Meeting/Open Call
- Investigate Needs
- Provide Benefits
- Overcome Objections
- Close The Sale
Traditional sales conjure a picture of the typical car salesman: high pressure, selling, and a wheel dealer on the price, essentially somebody who is manipulative and not trustworthy. Once lawyers start listening, they can have to train to become salesmen; they obviously hate the idea.
Initially, lawyers and others used the sales techniques taught by renowned sales gurus such as Sandler and Dale Carnegie. Typically, their methods followed a sequence:
- Seeking prospects-
- Qualify needs and recognize pain and issues
- Show your importance
- Resolving and overcoming objections posed by buyer remorse
- Inquire for the business
- Complete the deal
This strategy puts the salesman in charge but not in control of the conversation. Lawyers who took this approach appeared to pitch and sail towards the “near” instead of listening and investigating. This could be useful if customers were less knowledgeable, and law firms were in the driver’s seat. Due to the change in recent years, the balance of power reversed. Customers now drive decisions and want to participate fully in the sales process.
Lawyers who study and practice consulting in the prospect and sale process become much more effective. As mentioned in our article How to sell: Stop pitching and start listening, consultancy sales focus on first understanding the need for the prospect, to explore its history (learning the customer’s previous knowledge of the problem), identify action imperative and urgent, and identify decision-makers and any barriers to success; Although lawyers often get too fast to speak about themselves and their firms and sell their services too quickly, advisory sales, if properly handled, disciplines lawyers to do what they already do in their legal commitments — to ask a lot of questions, find meaning and targets, create roadblocks (and competitors) and identify good results Consultative sales concentrate on the customer/prospect, his expectations and ambitions and not on the pitching or cross-sale of the lawyer services.
An 8-step method for successful advisory sales is recommended:
- Plan (set the stage for informed questioning).
- Learn how the prospects meet you.
- Speak to the reference source (another partner in your venture) and those you know to obtain as much information about the company, who you are meeting, who uses the prospect, and why the shift takes place.
- Conflict management.
- Conflict control.
Do some research:
- Website of the company, prospect bio(s), goods, market, locations, values, mission, 10 K
- Proceedings, M&A transactions, law firms used
- Profile LinkedIn, business LinkedIn page
- Research of rivals (websites, pricing models)
- History market, prospect’s top competitors
- Create a list of 6-10 questions, take them to the meeting, establish a particular reason for each meeting or interaction.
- Build reporting and testing chemistry.
- Meet the prospect at your favorite place.
- Engage the future and recognize areas of common interest.
- Consider the prospect of who recommended you, if necessary.
- Reiterate the meeting’s reason, but ask if your agenda has changed or whether you want to concentrate on something else.
Step 3: Explore needs and define the need for intervention. Ask good questions for the assessment of existing needs, threats, and market or legal goals. Determine the urgency and the imperative: what is the highest priority of this prospect, and what are they prepared to pay for? At this stage, avoid the pitch even though the prospect demands. Don’t rush into your solutions or credentials too fast.
Step 4: Sample more data – don’t presume something. What is the probability of success in commitment, partnerships, outcomes, and how is this evaluated? What’s going to mess with our success? Who else cares about this issue in the business or on the board? What other businesses are serving this prospect? What’s the future for them or not?
Step 5: Evaluate the commitment of the prospect to action. What is the cost or chance of failure? Is the prospect capable of handling this in-house, in whole or in part? Ask about times, timeframes, and deadlines. Ask the budget, how relevant are payments for participation ( e.g., efficiency, performance, access to partners)? Ask what are the pricing/cost issues: prices, overall cost, employees, technology and efficiency, predictability, risk-sharing? Check the latest rates they collect. Be ready to express your thoughts and desires on alternative pricing.
Step 6: Recognize policyholders and policymakers. How / by whom / when are decisions to be purchased? Determine who is responsible for the money/budget, service customers, other internal players such as procurement officers, boards, external influencers, or possible saboteurs such as someone on board, international consultants, in particular, if a private equity company is involved. Get support from some “advocates”/allies in-house for support.
Step 7: Focus on communicating now. Offer a solution. Just now, are you going to “sell” what you can do? Present the best solution for the needs, deadlines, and expected outcomes for the future; the reputation and the solutions proposed; present yourself as a resource. Clarify the desires, understanding, and devotion of each other. Define the next move and the next step for the prospect.
Step 8: Close sales (should not be in progress at this stage) At this stage, you may be requested to prepare a proposal. Hopefully, instead, it would be a letter of engagement. Listen to the signals, for example, “how quickly will your team start? “How are you going to staff it? “Don’t be afraid to say you’d love to collaborate with them.
The move from consultative sales to insight sales is not drastic, but more of a transition, and it once again benefits lawyers’ natural abilities as experts and tools. Now, social media and digital channels have created an almost infinite number of ways in which lawyers can become think-touches, share their knowledge and perspectives. Customers and prospects have relied on the knowledge and experiences exchanged through in-house consumer updates, blogs, posts, webinars, podcasts, and programs. One of the most popular, effective added value for our customers today is the offer to provide a briefing for our customers, to take a look around the corner in their business or a particular functional field, and to share knowledge from other businesses, such as our customers.
The sale of insight subtly changes from the lawyer to the advisory seller and functional expert to someone who proactively seeks facts, patterns, insights from customers, and perspectives. It is an essential part of building a longer-term relationship that integrates value into discussions and interactions. “Salespeople can provide an insight into how a company can be successful – they give away ideas for free,”. “Lawyers have done this already for a long time but still have not made it into part of the sales process.
In its release, The Guide to Insight Sales Growth, the Rain Community provides five steps in the process of insight:
Cooperation: Request customers/prospects to provide insight into a concept, patterns, possible approaches, and assess what they see on the market. This first move is to lay the groundwork for collaboration.
Exploration: Start discovering – don’t presume. Instead, research questions and concepts carefully, discuss the larger picture and broader consequences.
Definition: Details and discusses many aspects of the issue, including causes, symptoms, and effects. This may lead you to decide that the prospect does not currently need your services or solutions. That’s all right.
Roadmap: Build a roadmap with possible methods, strategies, and timeframes without dragging yourself or your organization into the future. Build this journey together to help develop visions and approaches.
Ownership: As in any good sale and service, let the customer/prospect think of a concept or solution about the problem. Which will make them more invested in it and will help them make a decision.
As long as lawyers have a dual role as service providers, they can improve partnerships, deliver value and build their practices by sharing their experiences with customers and more proactively and constantly searching and integrating customer feedback into their efforts to service, grow and cross-sell.