To attract and sign good clients, put Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales principles to work
By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.
OK, I’ll admit it. I enjoy reading business and sales books.
I think too many lawyers dismiss business sales books based on the chicken-or-the-egg debate over whether the law is a profession or a business. But lawyers exchange their advice, skill and training to clients for a fee, whether it is hourly, flat fee or contingency based — and, in an era of escalating competition in which prospective legal clients are willing to shop around, many lawyers struggle with the question of whether cut fees or justify a higher rate based on value.
Of course, lawyers aren’t alone.
Last week, I had the privilege of serving as a guest panelist for a St. Louis Women in the Media networking event on the topic of the freelance market. One of the topics of discussion was how to set a reasonable fee when freelance writers are increasingly viewed as a fungible commodity. Once again, the notion of value — being a reliable writer known for providing quality, timely copy — was discussed as justification for charging and receiving a higher rate.
During the panel discussion, I enthusiastically recommended Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness. It is a valuable resource for lawyers as well as freelance writers.
I bought this slim, easy-to-read book packed with tips last winter. I’ve read it more than once and even gave it as a birthday gift to my web programmer and designer. (I have no problem admitting two things in this post: I am a practical, nerdy gift-giver, and I am recommending this book.)
In the Little Red Book, Gitomer sets forth 12.5 tips (yes — .5) to make sales forever, stressing the importance of relationship- and friendship-building in the process. Although you’ll find helpful nuggets in all 12.5 tips, I want to highlight three principles lawyers will find especially useful in their legal marketing efforts.
1. Establish your personal brand
In the legal world, reputation is paramount. Law firm partners take young associates aside and discuss the importance of upholding the firm’s reputation. Most also stress the need to establish a personal reputation among other lawyers and in the courthouse as a person you can trust, one whose word can be taken at face value.
This is part of personal branding — but, as Gitomer writes, it also involves getting the community to have confidence in you, establishing yourself as an expert and separating yourself from the competition.
And it means building your image. Gitomer recommends getting the best business card money can buy. “When you give out your card, if someone doesn’t look at it and say, ‘Nice card,’ get it redone.”
We take that seriously at Legal Media Matters. Our logos are designed to get our clients noticed. When I hand out a Legal Media Matters business card, it always receives a second look and a positive comment.
2. It’s about value, not price
Understanding what your clients want and need is an important part of providing value. In the legal realm, clients hire lawyers to fix problems or prevent them in the first place.
In the freelance panel discussion last week, the representative of a communications firm stressed the need for reliable, quality freelancers. If the freelancer doesn’t perform, the firm faces the prospect of an unhappy client. Therefore firms are willing to pay higher fees to freelancers with good reputations.
Gitomer offers several examples of ways to give value first, such as writing articles and giving handouts; how to become known as a person of value; and how to change “lowest price” conversations to ones about value.
Anyone who has ever attending a law practice management or legal marketing seminar has been told to network, network, network. Getting together with other lawyers helps build and strengthen referral networks, still a major source of new business for lawyers. Attorneys are also advised to volunteer and speak.
Gitomer has rounded up 21.5 best places to network and he gives tips for success. Even if you’re an introvert like me, you’ll find the suggestions are worthwhile. I’ve put several into practice (not the karaoke suggestion, though) and made some great business connections, cultivated referral sources and even reconnected with old law school friends with whom I had chance encounters at conferences.
These are just a few of the tips, easily adapted to law firm marketing, contained in a book that’s well worth reading.
Do you have a favorite business book you consult for your law practice? If so, let me know what it is and why you recommend it.
And if you need help with creating or redesigning your law firm logo, preparing guest articles or putting together attractive handouts, contact Legal Media Matters.
At Legal Media Matters, we provide legal public relations, law firm marketing and attorney website content writing services.