Sell! – Driving LPM Adoption Using Proven Sales Tactics | Esther Bowers
Sales. It’s not a dirty word! Yet in the law firm environment the term “sales” or “sell” tends to make people uncomfortable and the reactions are typically negative. But as change agents within firms, we regularly engage in selling stuff, be it ideas, processes or technology. With this in mind, let’s examine proven sales methods and consider how the application of these concepts can assist in driving LPM adoption within your firm.
The first step is to know what you are selling. And know it well. Understand how to draw connections from client needs to your solution. Know how to position LPM with your audience and the benefits your firm’s LPM program provides. You’re not selling LPM concepts or deliverables. You are selling solutions.
Example scenario:“I routinely get outbid on work that is right in my wheelhouse and that I should win. The firm down the street is getting this work but pitched a lower price point.” – Partner
Example response A:“Here is a Scope of Work template that you can use for future bids. Just enter the tasks that you are including in your price and attach with your pitch packet.” – LPM Firm Representative
Example response B: “Often firms shoot out a fixed fee for work without understanding some key variables that could dramatically affect the final cost. Let’s develop a couple of questions that you can ask prospective clients that will enable us to engage with them in a collaborative discussion about specifics of the work that, in our experience, have negatively impacted fees. Then, we can provide them with a thoughtful proposal and include the work we anticipate is needed to complete in order to achieve their objectives. This approach will force them to seek similar detail from other firms for true comparison.”
Whose services would you “buy”?
The second step is to consider where your lawyers/practice groups are within the sales funnel:
Targets (the lawyers/practices you want to get engaged for various reasons)
Prospects (attended LPM presentations, included LPM as part of a pitch because they want to use it as a marketing tool, general interest but further needs-identification is necessary)Leads(have expressed need for LPM or discrete concept/service within their practice)
Clients (have engaged in projects; respond to your check-ins)
Champions (ready to tell their story and be an extension of your efforts to promote further adoption of LPM efforts)
The third step is to engage in activities to move your lawyers/practice groups through the LPM sales funnel. Here are strategies to consider for each phase:
Consider why they are a target. Is it because converting them to a champion would raise the profile of the LPM efforts? Do they serve the firm’s key client base? Are they serving an industry that is undergoing significant change and the trickle-down effect requires intentional actions?
Understand the profile of the practitioner in this category: what clients do they serve; what are the margins on their work; what their leverage ratios are; what type of rate pressures are they experiencing, etc.
Develop your sales strategy by understanding their practices and opportunity-spot. Review data and metrics that provide insights into potential needs and service entry points.
Attorneys in this stage require persuasion; you have their attention but need something concrete to move them through the funnel. This can be accomplished through conducting a needs analysis. Data, metrics and case studies will help in connecting the needs to potential result-oriented solutions.
Present information, data and service best practices, success stories from related or complementing practices that leads them to a deeper understanding of how your service solves their pain-point(s).
A lead has indicated that they have a need/request. Give them what they are asking for and guide them to what they really need. This can be done by:
Observing and asking questions.
Know what you are selling (see the theme?). Connect discoveries/learnings from prior step (observing, information gathering) to the introduction of solution-based services. Understand how to point LPM activities to their practice growth objectives.
Be prepared to use data and/or anecdotes from successful approaches to further emphasize important concepts.
Model project management behaviors in your work with them. Apply similar disciplines from the engaging, planning, execution and debrief phases.
Consider the questions you ask upon project intake (engaging phase) – setting expectations, understanding stakeholders and objectives
Develop a schedule for the communication and deliverables (planning phase) – consider resources needed and assign to tasks
Keep updated according to expectations and communications plan (executing phase) – confirm understanding and communicate if scope changes
Circle back to be sure you delivered on what they expected (debrief phase) – what did you/the LPM team do well? What could be improved for next time?
Cross-sell other LPM services to promote further behavior change. Offer new things to existing clients by:
Analyzing adoption behavior. What techniques have worked best to drive understanding and engagement? Identify optimal point in adoption to introduce new service/concept.
Celebrate successes and promote wins. Gather best practices to leverage in similar or same practice areas.
You’ve arrived. Leverage your champions to amplify your message and thoughtfully utilize this group to further promote your efforts. Champions can speak to the value LPM has brought to their practice. Capture their methodologies and consider how to repurpose for broader success.
There. That sales journey wasn’t terrible, was it? These are just a handful of actions you can take with your lawyers and practice groups to drive further education and adoption of LPM within your firm. Applying sales concepts to behavior change efforts can provide a solid roadmap for identifying next steps to take to advance your LPM growth objectives.
About the Author:
Esther Bowers is the Director of Practice Management at Honigman LLP, a 300-lawyer Midwest-based firm with an international reach. As part of her role, Ms. Bowers is responsible for the design, implementation, operation and coordination of cross-departmental and multidisciplinary task forces focused on efforts to enhance how Honigman provides services to clients. Prior to Honigman, Ms. Bowers served as the Director of Client Service Initiatives at Barnes & Thornburg LLP and was the co-creator of BT ValueWorks the firm’s suite of pricing, process and technology solutions. She was responsible for the firm’s LPM program implementation, training and sustained adoption efforts. Ms. Bowers is active in the value and innovation communities and has presented on LPM for the ABA, ALAS, PLI and LMA programs. She has contributed to various publications and is a certified trainer in legal project management by LawVision and has her White Belt from Legal Lean Sigma Institute LLC.