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The Top 5 Myths About Business Development for Law Firms

The beginning is the most important part.

- Plato

Just like one might receive a different explanation of the game of football from someone born in Texas as opposed to another in Brazil or England, "business development" can vary depending on whom you ask.

But to really understand what successful business development is one must first understand what it isn't.

Myth #1: Business development and law firm marketing are interchangeable terms.

Law firm marketing is about being found, not chosen. How you get found is through publicity-media outreach, networking, collateral materials, conducting and attending seminars and workshops-that targets the eyes, ears and interests of your potential client.

But first, you have to locate the target-that's business development. Perhaps a more appropriate term for business development is 'business generation,' which requires (dare I write it) sales training and closing skills.

Myth #2: Attorneys should step in to the business development process only after the marketing department develops a strategy.

Ultimately, the onus is upon attorneys to bring in (and keep) the business. The role of law firm marketing should support these goals with collateral materials, media and public relations activities and identifying seminars and workshops that help facilitate network development.

Once you have the information and sales training, plan a strategy to pursue the business and hone in on your closing skills.

Myth #3: When it comes to marketing, "One Size Fits All."

News flash: One size never fits all. Marketing should be tailored according to personality, needs of the firm and those of the client. One tactic that works for one attorney won't necessarily work for another. Tailored business development, sales training and closing skills will land you the client, every time.

Myth #4: Clients want sellers to do most of the talking.

Keep your resume to yourself and let the potential client do the talking. Adopt the old IBM 60/40 sales training rule-keep them talking 60 percent of the time and spend the remaining 40 percent asking good questions based on your research. Pay attention to your client's verbal cues, and refine your pitch accordingly.

Myth #5: Once you've won the business, further marketing to the client is not necessary.

A big complaint that I often hear from clients is the lack of communication and the feeling of being 'kept out of the loop' in important decisions. Your firm's client retention depends on identifying their needs regularly.

But client needs are a moving target. The time you spend listening and attending to complaints could be the difference between keeping a client and losing them to another, more attentive firm.

Allan Colman

Allan Colman, managing Director of The Closers Group, has spent more than two decades helping professional services firms and law firms generate more revenue. He has brought in millions of dollars of new business and built business development structures that continue to perform. Allan holds Masters and Doctorate degrees from New York University. He is a pro bono mediator for the California Court of Appeals and the State of California (Los Angeles County) Superior Court.

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Filed Under: Practice Management

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About the Author: Allan Colman, managing Director of The Closers Group, has spent more than two decades helping professional services firms and law firms generate more revenue. He has brought in millions of dollars of new business and built business development structures that continue to perform. Allan holds Masters and Doctorate degrees from New York University. He is a pro bono mediator for the California Court of Appeals and the State of California (Los Angeles County) Superior Court.

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