01 Nov Lawyers are Salesmen Whether They Like It or Not
Lawyers and salespeople often come from different educational backgrounds, but what they are selling is the greatest distinction between them: salespeople sell services and goods, and lawyers sell their client’s case or position. When I was in school, I never had any interest in sales, but I wished I had given sales a try after graduating from law school and started working.
It takes more salesmanship to practice law than most non-attorneys (including salespeople) would really imagine. To begin with, lawyers and companies need to market themselves to potential clients. One valuable skill anyone should have, whether an attorney or not, is selling yourself. Lawyers need to sell their own talents, company, expertise, colleagues, and even their personality to bring in business. Nevertheless, lawyers must be vigilant not to oversell, which sometimes results in over-promising to not offer consumers an unreasonable expectation.
Some clients may never have had experience dealing with a lawyer, depending on the field of law you practice. However, this is precisely what you need to do, and you need to explain why you are the best attorney for their case without being too technical.
However, it can be just as tough to sell yourself to someone who deals with attorneys all the time. “Those who deal with lawyers all the time appear to be predisposed to how things should be handled, what kind of lawyer they want, and normally have a” go-to “firm or lawyer as well.” This will make it much more difficult to market yourself, forcing you to sell your unique style and legal brand or sell that you can do what the client wants to do, as the client wants it to be done.
As for how to sell yourself, there is no “right” response, just like there is no “right ” way to litigate a case. In different situations, different types, techniques, methods, and personalities work in different ways. For the most part, styles, techniques, and methods should be altered by what is required for the case, requiring attorneys to market themselves to specific clients and sell themselves for specific cases, particularly though there are several cases for the same client.
Selling Your Case
When a client selects a lawyer or a law firm, the selling does not stop. Instead, my colleagues and my primary purpose in litigation are to market our client’s case by advocacy. This allows lawyers to sell to the finder of fact (either the judge or jury) the facts of the case and the rule as it relates to certain facts in the event of dispositive motions. This is what sales are, making a product (your client’s role in this case) and selling it to a consumer (the judge or jury in this case).
However, good lawyering involves more than selling your case to a neutral third-party judge or jury but also selling your case in mediation negotiations to your opponent. Imagine a salesman from Coca-Cola trying to sell Coca-Cola to the Pepsi cafeteria, a salesman from Microsoft trying to persuade Apple to use Windows, or a Verizon employee trying to persuade NBCUniversal-Comcast in their corporate headquarters to use Fios. The longer the case goes on, and the longer the consumer history, the harder it is to settle (or sell in the sales).
This is what lawyers must do in a zero-sum game when settling lawsuits and bargaining with rivals, selling their position to someone with a full opposite position (rather than someone neutral choosing between options), so that any advantage to one side would affect the other and vice versa. This inevitably leads to “sale” being more complicated than in a case where the “buyer” is not also the adversary.
You must be able to sell not only yourself but your place to those with views opposite to your own in order to be a successful lawyer.