I understand you’re scared. It’s a scary time for everyone.
Many firms and other businesses aren’t sure if enough revenue is going to be there in a week, a month, 6 months, or even in 12 months to keep the doors open. This kind of fear can cause irregular and sometimes irrational behavior.
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Is Now A Good Time To Sell?
I’ve been asked by several people whether now is the appropriate time to sell your services or even to cross-sell the other services in your firm.
Some lawyers I have talked to have said that they think now would be a good time to make sure all of their clients understand everything that they can do, and let them know all of the ways they can help with matters related to COVID-19.
They want to blanket email everyone to let them know what they can do. This post speaks specifically to that mass-selling approach.
What I want you to do is take a deep breath and let’s talk about this for a moment. Seriously, take a moment right now because every one of us, including me, can benefit from taking a nice, long, deep breath while we try to make wise decisions during this crazy time.[Inhale for 4 counts. Hold for 4 counts. Breathe out for 8 counts, or something like that. My friend Renee Branson knows the details better than I do. Now lather. Rinse. Repeat. It will help, I promise.]
Know The Right Approach
Before you run around like you’re starring in the movie Halloween, whipping around a chainsaw scaring everyone, my recommendation to you is that you are going to get a lot farther by using a little softer approach like going door-to-door handing out candy, talking to people, and making friends.
One is certainly more dramatic, but the other one is much more productive. It’s all about the right approach for the right moment.
Let’s Translate This For The Legal Profession
Let me give you an example. Over the past several days, which feel more like weeks, I have received emails from a few service providers who are sponsors of a conference I was supposed to be attending this week. They are trying to sell me their services. Not only do a few of them not understand what I do for a living because their wording refers to me as though I am working in-house for a lot of attorneys, which hasn’t been the case since 2002 when I went out on my own, but they are also turning me off because their approach appears to be tone-deaf to what I as a business owner am going through right now. That’s what I don’t want to happen for you and your clients.
One of Your Goals Is To Maintain or Grow Your Practice, Right?
If you want your clients to know what you do for a living and how you can help, and how other lawyers in your firm could help during this crisis with the externally-unspoken goal of bringing in new business and staying financially viable during and after this crisis, you need to focus on being very smart businesspeople and business developers at this time.
Being smart means being strategic about how you approach others right now. It means understanding what to talk about at the time your clients most need to hear from you.
Being strategic also means understanding when your current clients are in harm’s way and need your assistance fast. If you need to step forward and counsel them because you see trouble coming their way, you should certainly let them know that. It is your job to protect them.
I want to talk about those instances when you are tempted to blanket sell to everyone to sell your services to them.
Here is a three-pronged approach that I think will serve you much better than selling to your clients and prospects right now.
The First Prong
The first prong of this approach is coming up with a content strategy. Within this content strategy, I want you to come up with 5 to 10 topics that you can author or co-author with someone else in your firm that is helpful and provides valuable information to the reader, listener, or viewer. Don’t hold back. Don’t provide specific legal advice, but I want these topics to speak to the situation and the thought processes and emotions they are going through right now.
With this content strategy, you will be providing a helpful perspective and even possible solutions. When you co-author with another attorney from another practice area or team in your firm, you will be subtly accomplishing one of your goals of helping others understand what you and your firm are capable of doing. If they see this kind of content from you on a regular basis, what do you think will happen? What will happen is that they will eventually think of you when needs arise that are related to what you and your colleagues have demonstrated you understand.
The Second Prong
The second thing I want you to do relates to what many firms have been struggling with for decades, and that is cross-selling. I want you to create a grid or a fact sheet that very easily identifies all of the services your firm provides that might be helpful to someone going through many issues related to this Coronavirus crisis.
I then want you to place that information on your website in some type of a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center or page, with an introduction that invites people who have chosen to visit your website or your resource center to learn information about your firm that might be helpful to them. Make sure to link to the appropriate pages of lawyers who can help them. Make it easy for visitors to find what they need as fast as possible.
The other nice thing about creating this cross-selling resource is that, because this has been a challenge for firms for a very long time, it will become a great resource for all of your attorneys and staff as they will quickly learn what everyone else in the firm does for a living.
You might laugh at that, but believe me, this is hard to accomplish in many law firms. It is also not common for every attorney to be able to speak about what every other practice team does, so creating this cross-selling fact sheet (and please don’t call it that on your website) will help in more ways than you can imagine.
The Third Prong
The third prong to this 3-pronged approach is that you need to start dealing with your clients on a one-to-one, case-by-case basis during this time, if not all the time. I want you to call your top 10 clients to start with and have a conversation with each one of them. I would do that this week and next.
I want you to check on them. Don’t sell to them. I want you to have a nice conversation with them.
Bonus points if you schedule a face-to-face on Zoom with them because this physical isolation might be wearing thin on them right now, but I wouldn’t push it. A phone call will work.
Ask them questions like:
- How are things going at your company?
- What kind of issues are you dealing with right now?
- What are the most pressing issues that you have to solve?
- What has surprised you the most?
- How are you doing personally with all of this?
- Are you working from home?
- How is that going?
- If your company hasn’t sent everyone home to work yet, how does that make you feel? I would imagine it would be a little frightening right about now.
- Is there anything at all I can do to help?
I guarantee you, within that conversation with questions like that, and more that you can develop that match that tone and your style, you are going to learn more about your clients than you ever imagined.
You are also going to learn what issues are the most pressing to them, which will help fill in spots on that content creation process I mentioned in the first prong.
When the time is right, then you can follow up and gently suggest that you would like to help them through this, or that you can think of a colleague at the firm, or elsewhere if the subject is outside of legal, that would be a good resource, or that you have this resource center on your website that might provide additional perspective.
Now is the time for subtlety. Don’t force it because they will see right through it. Now is the time for a gentler approach. We all have to be sensitive to what our clients and colleagues are going through right now, and that is probably not the desire to be sold to when they aren’t in the mood.
Don’t forget that your behavior during this time, and really, all of the time, contributes to your brand and the firm’s brand.
Do you you want to be perceived as tone-deaf by overselling what you can offer them during a very scary, overwhelming time, or would you rather be known as caring, empathetic, a good listener, and as someone who took time out during a very trying time to genuinely check on others?
Taking The Simple, Fast Way Out
I get it that creating written resources that you send out to every client telling them everything you do is very tempting. But I think that’s the easy way out, and it’s probably not the right way out at this time.
You can’t put the pressure on:
- A single website resource center
- One blog post
- One podcast episode
- One lone newsletter that tells the recipient everything the firm does
- One fact sheet that summarizes what you and every other team or group in the firm does
…to do the job of informing all of your clients and prospects what you do. That’s a lot of unrealistic pressure for any one piece or place of information.
Those should be considered what I have long called market softeners. They soften your market to become more receptive to you when and if you eventually recommend your services to them.
Wait For It
Sometimes you just need to wait for the right time before selling or bombarding others with sales information that can make you appear insensitive in the face of a major, scary, uncertain, overwhelming, and sometimes overpowering global crisis.
As I said at the beginning, now is not the time to be running like a person with a chainsaw, scaring everyone by overselling your services. Going door-to-door and handing out candy is going to make you much more memorable in the long run, if not the short run, and will go a long way toward creating those know, like, and trust factors that we talk about so much in professional services.
Is now the time to sell and cross-sell, or is now the time for you to step up and touch your clients on a personal, one-to-one basis and show them:
- That you understand
- You know how to listen
- That you have the ability to help them see their situation a little clearer by having talked through it with them, and
- That you are there for them
I’m confident I know which approach would cause your clients and prospects to like you better and to think positively about you in the long run, which can then lead to business when they are ready.
If you’d like to discuss this in greater detail, this is where you can find me.
Nancy Myrland is a Marketing, Business Development, Content, Social & Digital Media Speaker, Trainer & Advisor, helping lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines in order to maximize business development efforts to grow their practices. Known as the LinkedIn Coach For Lawyers, she is a frequent LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for Business trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers learn and implement marketing and business development efforts that are more relevant to their current and potential clients. As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasts, video marketing, voice marketing, flash briefings, and livestreaming. She also helps lead law firms through their online social media strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases.
If you would like to reserve an hour of Nancy’s time to begin talking strategy or think through an issue you are having, you can do that here.
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