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    Wednesday
    Mar252015

    Could it be Low T?

    Client relationships feeling a little sluggish lately? Losing some of the old vitality they used to have? The conversations, the vibe and the business you’re getting just don’t have the spark or energy they once had. You feel like they’re a shadow of what used to be.

    Is it Low T?

    Let’s face it—it’s natural for client relationships to start to lose their energy once they reach a certain age. It happens to most relationships—not just yours. But, you look around and see other, much older relationships which still have a special vibrancy.

    Chances are, they added a dose of T: Talk.

    A regular, and often daily, dose of talking to clients adds that old vitality to your good relationships. Even average relationships will experience an injection of vibrancy—and new business.

    Dosage

    You can safely adopt T-supplementation by calling one of your top 3 clients once over the next 3 weeks. Talk about how their goals for the year have shifted or what has to be done in the short and long term. Share one tiny insight which will help them. Just one. Remember: T-supplementation is quite powerful and best delivered in small doses regularly over a long period of time.

    Once you’ve started having calls you are ready for the next step. Move to a lunch or face-to-face meeting. T-supplementation requires careful preparation. Perform a search on news, new products, press releases and ask your client about one or all of what you see. Bring a mental checklist of topics with client focus—budget pressure, internal staffing and new demands on the corporate counsel’s office are sure-fire winners. Can you talk about something unique your client’s competitors are doing? Even better.  

    As with all supplements, you may not feel the effects of your T-supplementation immediately. You are more likely to experience a slow, steady build of increased vibrancy. You may experience immediate hiccups—clients who don’t have time to talk or meet—this is the relationship’s natural resistance to change. You can overcome this resistance by coming up with enticing topics—designed just for your client. You may have to ask for the meeting 3 to 5 times before your client believes you are not delivering just a placebo: the dreaded veiled sales call.

    You may have to experiment to get the dosage just right for each client. But keep changing the mix—you are bound to get the desired results after a couple of times. And the rewards overwhelm the time it takes to find the right mix of topics, timing and talk.

    Side Effects

    We find two main side effects from using T-supplementation:

    1. Possible discomfort from changing behavior and acting a bit outside your normal comfort zone

    2. Inner joy as you find new challenges along with your new business

    Warning: T-supplementation may cause jealousy in others.

    MBR


    Wednesday
    Mar182015

    60% of Clients Replace Their Primary Law Firm

    60% of large clients have replaced one of their 2 primary law firms—the highest turnover rate in 7 years. The overwhelming reason—mediocre client service. The scary part—the client service isn’t bad—it’s just not great.

    Corporate counsel show shrinking patience for anything short of a superior client experience. Clients now believe even average client service costs them money and time—the 2 things corporate counsel have little of.

    Few if any of these new primary law firms gained their spots through RFPs. Almost all built their position starting as a secondary firm with smaller but substantive issues. As these law firms moved into a primary position, these firms then engaged in 2 driving activities simultaneously:

    1. Delivering superior client service
    2. Actively developing larger swaths of business


    Superior Client Service Is Your License for More Business

    Virtually each and every one of these firms moving successfully into a primary position had a clear plan. They would cultivate new business while continually making big gains in their client service performance. Too many firms focus on one to the exclusion of the other.

    Many firms believe their business development prowess will win the business. A few firms believe superior client service alone will win the business. The reality is—even the firms with the best client service also need to pursue new business.

    Client service is a license to get new business but is not necessarily an entitlement. The lesson: back up your superior client service with a plan to get new business.

    The spike in primary firm turnover is a warning bell. No law firm is safe or immune. Every firm planning on a robust future is compelled to protect their client base and then figure out how to turn their secondary relationships into primary relationships. Again, these are not RFP driven. These are the relationships we develop. Your partners will play a big role whether they want to or not. The first steps to protecting and then gaining primary relationships:

    1. Conduct in-depth client feedback on a large enough scale to cover your top primary and secondary relationships. Acquire client feedback for those clients you need to keep. You will learn where you are strong and where you are at the most risk. You also will learn what it takes to keep these clients.  
       
    2. Provide training in advanced business development skills. Building and keeping primary relationships is not for newbies and partners who don’t like developing business. This is deadly business. Train only those who can and want to develop clients. And give them the authority to make it happen.
       
    3. Form client teams, develop a plan, and train the team. This training is more focused on how to work as a team. Unleash the team on individual clients—and give the team a budget.
       
    4. Measure and track client retention for the firm’s largest clients on a year-over-year basis. Set a goal, a number-based goal, to improve retention and include it in partner goals. 

    59% of the new primary firms are from outside the Am Law 50 while 41% are in the Am Law 50. Both the largest firms and the more midsized firms are feeling equal impact—and neither is a runaway winner.

    Clients are shopping for client service. BTI research reveals most of the firms moving into the new primary roles are the same firms who have been gaining market share for several years in a row. These firms have a more developed formula for both keeping their existing clients and gaining new ones. 


    Large Clients Are Markets of One

    Each client you want to keep has now officially become a stand-alone market or market of one. Securing a new primary spot demands a focused plan, elegant execution and the resources to make it happen. With virtually no new growth in outside counsel spending, each primary relationship you gain is coming as another firm’s expense. Much like in Monopoly, the firms with the most primary relationships win.

    MBR


    Wednesday
    Mar112015

    13 Unspoken Rules of Client Relationships

    Unspoken rules are the gifts which keep on giving for some and the bane of our existence for others. Those who know and live by these rules thrive and love what they do. Those who don’t work harder for less enjoyment and return—they may love what they do—but not quite as much as those who know the unspoken rules.

    13 unspoken rules governing client relationships emerged from BTI’s more than 14,000 client feedback interviews. Clients rarely speak these words directly to their service providers, if ever. But, clients see these rules as part of their core personality, behavior and decision making.
     

    The 13 Unspoken Rules of Client Relationships   

    1. Clients always find a way to hire the people they want when they want to.

    2. Clients don't fire their law firms, they just stop giving them work.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Mar042015

    Warning: Large Law Wants to Crush You like a Bug

    BTI’s new research reveals the largest 30 law firms are the most aggressive when it comes to business development. Their goal is to crush you like a bug. No disrespect intended. No slight. Just business.

    These 30 law firms are virtually the only ones who describe their BD goals as including crushing competitors like bugs—the first to think about taking enough market share to weaken whoever stands in their way. Again—nothing personal—but success demands taking share and clients from other firms.

    This new uber aggressive behavior by the largest firms marks a shift in strategic thinking. The largest law firms have fully decoupled from the days of professional competitive courtesy to stealing clients. They are the most extreme when it comes to taking out the competition. But they are not alone.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Feb242015

    Itty Bitty Goals—Strategic Planning's Fourth Deadly Sin

    The only thing scarier than a big goal is a small goal.

    Big goals are often wrongly equated with big risk. You are taking a chance. And you just might lose. But, a well-crafted strategic plan can reduce risk and point you to the strategies capable of delivering outsized returns.


    Small Goals only Masquerade as if They Have Little Risk

    The risk in small goals starts with your people. The influencers in your firm want something big and are often disappointed and feel stifled when constrained by small goals. Your people also become indifferent to the strategic plan—small goals end up sounding just another day at the office: maintain our market position; exceed market growth; become a preeminent player. Few people read or become engaged with a small goal strategic plan because they know exactly what to expect—more of the same. Small goals make strategic plans look more like operating plans complete with budget fights and negotiations.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Feb182015

    The 6 Traits of the Client Service All-Stars

    Monday
    Feb092015

    General Counsel Name 354 Attorneys Absolutely Best at Client Service

    Most attorneys are focused on building out the expertise and practice capabilities needed to tackle every client need. Relatively few focus on delivering the absolute best client service. Not good service—the absolute best. The BTI Client Service All-Stars are the exception: serving the client better than anyone else.

    14 years of research illustrates how hard it is and how strong a performance is needed to join the ranks of the BTI Client Service All-Stars. Just as a reminder—no attorney can self-nominate, refer a client to be interviewed, pay or otherwise find a way into the report. BTI went straight to the source—the general counsel and decision makers for legal services—to find out exactly which attorneys are truly delivering superior client service. We provide no lists, suggestions or menus—you earn this one on your own. This makes the congratulations all the more heartfelt and hard won.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Feb042015

    Crafting a Killer Proposal

    You’ve learned how proposals get no respect or love—hurting your chances of getting new business, and how to strategically select the RFPs which do merit your love with BTI’s RFP Go/ No Go checklist. After reviewing the checklist and deciding a proposal is worthy of a response, all you need now is a killer proposal, especially for those strategic must-wins.

    The killer proposal begins with your client: Your proposal isn’t about you. It’s about your clients.
     

    An Artisan Approach—At Least for the First Paragraph

    Start the very first paragraph—the very first sentence—with your clients’ name and their problem, issue and/or situation. Prove you understand what your client is trying to accomplish. Few things are more important than articulating you know exactly what you are getting into—and understand your (potential) client.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Jan282015

    Your RFP Go/No Go Checklist for Winning the Best Work

    Last week’s blog post was a call to action for law firms to reframe thinking about RFPs from lost soul of business development to bastion of opportunity to win work. All it takes is some love and respect—and a touch of strategy.

    Businesses thrive on making targeted, clear decisions. Strategic dabbling just doesn’t work. The same approach is true when reviewing and assessing RFPs. Not every opportunity is created equal. Other professional services firms (the Big 4, management consultants, financial services) live and die by using clear and decisive criteria when deciding which RFPs merit a response—and which do not. These organizations generate more business, develop more long-term clients, and drive improved performance by using formal, objective criteria to assess each opportunity. And live by it.

    BTI has crafted a downloadable, customizable Go/No Go Checklist for law firms to use when assessing RFPs and pitch opportunities. These criteria eliminate personal biases, potentially unprofitable clients, and wasted resources from the RFP approach. The criteria drive more business for the same or less effort.

    Click here to download the complete, customizable and complimentary RFP Go/No Go Response Checklist for your firm. 

    MBR/JPD

    In our next post, we will discuss the keys to crafting a killer RFP response.

    Wednesday
    Jan212015

    Dragged Kicking and Screaming to the Perfect RFP

    Law firms work 4 times harder than 5 years ago to get a new dollar of business. This trend makes the following statements we’ve heard about chasing proposals and pitches all the more frightening:


    “This company is so big you don’t really need to have an existing relationship with them to get the work.”

    “He just accepted my LinkedIn invitation—I think that’s a really good sign.”

    “I practice law. Writing proposals and bids aren’t part of my job.”

    “We don’t bother responding to RFPs; it’s a waste of time. The only way to develop business is to network.”

    “Our marketing and business development department has a standard response for RFPs—I’m not sure why we don’t send it out to all potential clients.”

     

    Proposals, pitches, and pursuing new opportunities get no respect. 

    For the most part, law firms drag partners kicking and screaming into the bid process or take a cookie cutter approach to their RFP responses. Very little strategic thinking or effort is put into the process. This attitude results in a paltry 31% win rate for law firms.

    Click to read more ...