How to Make Time For Legal Marketing and Business Development

One of the chief complaints I receive from the attorneys that I meet and work with is that they just don’t have time for legal marketing. While billable hours, day-to-day emergencies and time outside the office all add up, there are definite ways to go about making time for legal marketing and business development. The key is to think of it as an ongoing habit, not something to “make time for.” Rather than seeing marketing and business development as a burden, think of it as an integral part of your day-to-day life. The interesting thing about creating this kind of habit is that once you find the right system for your individual lifestyle it should simply become second nature.

The benefits to making time are numerous. Aside from building relationships with potential clients and referral sources, taking advantage of marketing and business development opportunities can help increase your visibility AND credibility in the legal arena and beyond. Writing articles and participating in social media help you create and build a personal brand-something that every lawyer should have. True dedication and time commitment can even bring you recognition as an expert in your chosen practice area or within a specific industry.

Below are a few suggestions and lessons from attorneys I’ve worked with, as well as my own observations and experience. Choose the path that make sense for you or adapt the suggestions to work within your own day, but give it a chance. Do something! The rewards you will reap are far greater than a 5-minute time commitment.

  • Multi-task. No one I know comes into the office and immediately gets to work. One solution to the time crunch is to fold your marketing and business development efforts into your morning routine. As you sit down to your desk with your morning coffee or tea (or breakfast…) browse through your contacts or referral lists and send a few emails; read a legal marketing blog; update your social media or even spend 10 minutes working on a potential article or speech. By 9 am you’ll have accomplished something solid and can focus the rest of your day on other endeavors. Alternately, you can do the same thing during a quick lunch at your desk or coffee break. You’d be surprised how far 10 minutes can go.
  • Save it up. One attorney I know has created a special folder in her email Inbox specifically for legal marketing emails. As the weekly or daily updates from the blogs and social media groups she subscribes to come in she simply directs them to the folder. Then, once a week she takes an hour out of her day to read through the week’s emails and respond to them accordingly. She’s able to keep up to date on legal marketing news and colleague updates, post articles and communicate about possible speaking engagements without disrupting the flow of her day.
  • End your day. A colleague of mine channels his efforts into work all day but integrates marketing into his nighttime routine. With the stresses of the day (and impending deadlines, phone calls and emails) over, he sets aside 15-20 minutes a night before bed to investigate marketing leads, send emails to potential referral sources and work on articles and social media.
  • Schedule it in… for the first month. If all else fails, treat legal marketing as a literal client. Put it on your schedule and make no excuses for not paying attention to it, just as you would a client. Whether it’s once a week or biweekly, set aside specific time for uninterrupted focus. After the first month I can guarantee that finding time for business development will feel effortless.

Simple in theory but never easy in practice, without a true commitment you can never reap the rewards of a solid marketing habit. Filling your pipeline with work, receiving recognition as an expert and gaining credibility and visibility won’t happen all at once, but you can be sure they will happen. Just as with any other endeavor, it takes focus and time to see results.

Top 5 Business Development Blunders

Effective communication skills are essential to successful business development. Yet they’re often under-emphasized and sometimes completely ignored. Why? Because we communicate so much and so often (approximately 20,000 words per day) we often take it for granted. But regardless of how good your product or service is and how much expertise you have in your area, it all goes to waste unless you can communicate it to others. When you actually get the chance to sit down with a potential client and discuss doing business together, don’t blow it by committing one of these big five business development blunders.

1. Talking about your product or service. Infodumping is simply telling someone all there is to know about what you’re selling. You probably cover how long you’ve been in business, who developed what, your philosophy of business, your market share and all the choices you have available. This approach is likely to leave the potential client in exactly the same place on the sales continuum as when you started. Your objective should be to get him to gravitate towards you. Go into your meeting with a strategic goal. What specifically do you want him to know, do or believe after meeting with you. Is it to place an order, sign up for a trial or believe you’re the only logical choice? Once you have a strategic goal, your destination is in sight and you can begin mapping a route to get there.

2. Not listening. No salesperson has ever listened herself out of a sale. Yet, when asked a simple question, many salespeople take it as a license to deliver a monologue. Here are three tips to practice better listening. First, use questions to discover what’s important. If the potential client says “tell me about yourself (or your product or service or company)”, respond with “what would you like to know” or “what aspect is most important to you in making a decision?” Second, never talk continuously for more than a couple of minutes without giving the other person an opportunity to speak. Third, don’t correct the other person unless it’s absolutely essential for the discussion to proceed–it rarely is and no one likes to be told he’s wrong.

3. Using sales clichés. People usually begin to lose interest the moment they feel they’re being sold. They usually begin feeling that way when they hear stock phrases such as “That’s a great question” or “What will it take to get your business today?” People need to feel like individuals, not like pieces in an assembly line. Sales clichés operate on a Pavlovian model–use a specific phrase and you’ll get the response you desire. It’s manipulative. Try shifting to a consultative approach where you’re seen as a advisor or problem-solver.

4. Failing to adapt to the situation. The problem with using a sales script is that it assumes too much. It assumes similar motivators, perspectives and situations in life. A financial planner I know has developed a very clever approach to meeting clients. He places bowls near the cash registers of higher-end restaurants in his territory. On each bowl, he places a small sign encouraging patrons to drop their business card in for a chance at a free meal at that restaurant. He goes through the cards periodically and invites someone to lunch with the understanding that he’d like a few minutes to talk about his services. When I met him for lunch, he presented his sales talk that assumed A. I had taken on a big mortgage to finance my house (I didn’t) B. I had to save for a child’s college fund (I don’t) and C. that my parents might someday need assisted living care (they’re both dead). Treat each meeting as unique and don’t assume too much.

5. Failing to distinguish features from benefits. Salespeople often focus on telling someone what a product or service is or does at the expense of what problem it solves or what pain it takes away. I once observed a commercial leasing agent show office space. As he met the clients in the building foyer, he commented on the large parking lot outside. That was a feature statement. A benefit statement would have focused on how clients would never have to search for parking or that people could always park close to the building in bad weather. Let’s say your product includes a video–that’s only a feature. The benefit is that someone can see exactly how to use your product. Apply this test to the statements you make–ask the “so what” question. If you can’t answer it, you’ve got a feature rather than a benefit.

Developing good communication skills is a result of thinking more strategically about how communication affects our interactions with others, then putting those strategies into play. When you avoid these top five blunders of business development, you’ll not only gain more business, you’ll lose less. Remember, if your idea is important, it deserves to get heard.

Business Development Ideas For Small IT Business

Information technology is not meant for small business. This is the biggest misperception hovering around the IT stream. Instead, information technology is one domain that has many opportunities for all. IT not only offers you a wide variety of jobs to opt from, but is also a small business destination. The workloads are tremendous, and you should try venturing into this steam only if you are willing to work continuous sleepless nights. Getting work is not difficult, but delivering within the restricted time frames and still maintaining the output quality is what takes the toll. Another important characteristic of this business is the multi requirement. You alone with a specific skill set might not be able to satisfy all requirements, but a perfect team with a coalition of different specializations is necessary to expand. So, before advertising or planning for mass business development, ensure that you have the right personnel associated with you. Recruitment agencies could be handy or you can refer to your own educational institute’s student list for such reference names and contacts.

To grow your small business, it is important to make the target segment aware of your presence. This can be best done by procuring a few speaking slots in important conferences and sessions related to your field. You can also advertise in a few selected journals and directories in your domain; however, be cautious of your budget. Do not overspend unless you’ve roped in a few fixed clients.

Develop a website and use other online strategies such as search engine optimization to boost your presence. This suits your stream; your target customers are well educated and can be easily reached through the World Wide Web.

Another important way to get your break is by getting associated with professional consultants or AMCs (annual maintenance contractors). These people are generally looked to for technical advice. They can certainly refer you to their clients for a small mark-up fee. Another network where you need an entry to be among the chosen IT service providers is the company’s purchasing department. Look for informal referrals in this group and couple it with your professional networking. Send them your brochures and provide as many dummy runs through the offerings as possible. If they are impressed, half of the job is done.

Business development in the IT domain is not very difficult, especially if you can offer the right portfolio. So, emphasize as much as possible on your product and follow the mentioned guidelines to create the desired impact. Choose the path that is subtler, as immediate steps in this direction could mean enormous spending that might not be viable at initial stages.

Tips For More Sales and Business Development

Are you a good selling or business development professional? What distinguishes you from the remainder of the pack?

With over 27 years of experience working with those that develop business and sell for a living I find the following characteristics:

1- Those that seek relationships not a commission check

2- Do not procrastinate, using the hours in the day wisely to be with prospective and current clients

3- Do not waste “windshield time” on wasteful things or nothing

4- Reads voraciously to understand competitive intelligence that aids the client

5- Establishes a strategic account profile to understand prospective client opportunities and limitations

6- Knows the economic buyer in their accounts and does not waste time with gatekeepers

7- Think strategically not tactically to engage buyers

8- Learning the client’s business and discovering methods to assist them now and in the future

9- Prepare provocative questions that engage and enlighten

10-Knows when to listen and when to speak

11-Networks constantly to meet new buyers

12-Engages a sales process

13-Creates emotion and has a passion for the sales process

14-Believes in what they are selling

15-Nurtures relationships with proper customer service, returning all calls and emails in a timely manner

16-Uses and respects the relevance of CRM reporting useful data to upper management

17-Understands the importance of customer to customer influences on account management

18-Thinks in terms of client outcomes, not units sold

19-Dresses professionally and is ready to engage with every client

20-Has poise and flexibility to engage gatekeeper and buyer ethically

Use the following as a checklist for your selling professionals if you are a manager or for you personally if you sell for a living. Check back periodically to determine methods to make you a more effective seller to alleviate time and develop more business.

©2010. Drew Stevens PhD. All Rights Reserved.