Implement a Structured, Repeatable Methodology to Your Client Acquisition Processes
In our last blog post we discussed that without a structured sales methodology and process, lawyers’ efforts are the equivalent of throwing darts in the dark. As a result, conversion rates are low, and many lawyers are unable to articulate what worked in terms of landing a new client. In our conversations with lawyers, this lack of a structured process and the resulting feast or famine environment in which they operate, results in a high degree of anxiety.
We find that law firms that implement structured sector and/or key account management programs see an improvement in results as lawyers and support staff are aligned on objectives, strategy and planning. Many firms have implemented a form of annual planning exercise – this frequency is insufficient as the best laid plans are forgotten by the end of 1st quarter. A program comprising regular campaigns, testing, measuring and learning is optimal and this process is best addressed through monthly and quarterly performance review meetings.
Kaitongo’s (Strategize, Listen, Act, Measure – SLAM) methodology combines the best practices of professional services client acquisition methods along with digital–first approaches being followed in B2B corporate environments.
What is the S.L.A.M approach?
1. Strategize: Where should we go?
Given the disruptive forces at play in business, few activities are more important than choosing the direction for your business. Ability to understand clients’ business/industry is commonly listed as one of the top 3 criteria clients use to evaluate and select an external law firm. Hence, we recommend a sector-based go to market strategy. Patrick McKenna presents a great analysis of defining and implementing a sector strategy in his recent post. Consistent with his findings, we have found that while many firms have adopted sector as their go to market strategy, most stop short of targeted account selection, falling back on age old methods of relying on relationships. The result quite often is a “I called all my contacts in the industry, didn’t hear back” and this is the end of sector focus until next years’ planning session. We recommend a year beginning planning session for each target sector (this is already happening at many firms) but the more important change of defining sector strategy at the level of target accounts based on criteria such as relationships or geographical presence and furthermore institutionalizing and repeating these processes at regular quarterly intervals.
2. Listen: What is happening in my industry and how can I proactively assist my clients with these issues?
A proactive Insights team supported by suitable automation platforms will support ongoing tracking of industry, client, relationship, and competition information for each focus sector and target accounts. In our experience, many firms do some of this for a small set of key accounts, but the current Insights team do not have capacity to support “all” fee-earners proactively and at scale. Kaitongo ClientConnect platform prompts lawyers with curated news combined with specific action and opportunity prompts so lawyers can reach out to the right client, with the right message, at the right time.
3. Act: How should we communicate with clients?
Historically, law firms have been quite organized about writing practice focused client bulletins but unfortunately not as well organized about sending these out. However, clients receiving these bulletins know that they are part of a mailing list and don’t appreciate these outreach efforts as much as a personalized effort specific to their company or industry. Lawyers have also traditionally not implemented the motto of “reach your clients where they’re reading their information” and are severely lagging their accounting and consulting peers in putting out thought leadership on industry topics. Social media is a hot topic and marketing functions at most firms have implemented employee engagement platforms such as Smarp and LinkedIn Elevate. However, a common complaint we hear is “But all the lawyers in my firm are posting the same message. How does this help me stand out and get noticed by a prospect?” We recommend that firms develop common content for campaigns, and messages consistent with the brand and capabilities but also support their fee-earners in putting together personalized content for outreach to their specific clients and sector specific content such as thought leadership publications – not just as an annual publication, but in small bites with a proactive digital strategy.
In another blog post, we discuss the lack of metrics such as Client Acquisition Costs (CAC) and Client Lifetime Value (CLV). In addition to these macro level metrics, firms also need to implement easily measurable and actionable metrics around customer satisfaction, brand favourability, acquisition costs, and content marketing performance. The current Martech landscape provides a range of tools and dashboards to measure the impact of actions across the funnel and the ROI of actions. With a better understanding of the drivers of revenue growth, law firms can adapt their strategy and tactics and optimize spending.
Using the S.L.A.M. methodology, law firms can effectively plan, measure, and scale revenue growth. If you have questions about the framework, we’re here to help.