What is S.L.A.M?
The standard framework for law firms has always been to hold partners accountable for business acquisition and revenue generation. It has long been assumed that partners, with their networks developed over the years, would be the right people to originate business—this is how the Rainmaker was born. That expectation still holds true in many firms. However, partners were never formally trained in sales and are often uncomfortable with this activity, which is another reason why they are easily distracted from such pursuits.
Even when there is a concerted effort around sales and marketing activities, the lack of a pragmatic and replicable approach continues to persist, preventing firms—and their clients—from achieving desired outcomes.
Strategic Business Development is Your Answer
Whether you are early in your career, or not, you are asked to deliver. You are expected to provide a multi-faceted, industrious legal advice and meet high demands in terms of Profit/Partner or Profit/Timekeeper ratios—irrespective of the firm’s size or a challenging economic environment.
Business development is meant to be the driving force behind a lawyer’s most effective business acquisition (and retention) strategy. And as lawyers aim to build long-lasting relationships with their existing and future clients through sector intel, client news, and referral networks, scaling the ability to continuously initiate, and maintain, purposeful conversations often becomes the next big hurdle.
But it doesn’t have to be. Just like anything, a bit of planning and effort at the outset, coupled with science and innovation, will make scaling your book of business painless—and, dare we say, straightforward.
A well-established Legal Business Development Framework arms lawyers with a scalable approach to turning sector and company insights into steady conversations that translate in superior legal advice for the clients and tangible financial results for the firms.
The notion of introducing a new strategy into your business model may sound off-putting for many, but once it all clicks into place, the answer is obvious.
The Framework Solution Every Lawyer Needs
S.L.A.M. is designed to equip lawyers with tools and tactics that truly work with respect to fulfilling business acquisition objectives. S.L.A.M. powers a sector-centric, and, thus, a client-centric, business model that helps firms, and their lawyers, plan, execute, and achieve a meaningful client and prospect development strategy while fueling their business development efforts.
The framework outlines four (4) straightforward steps to help you focus, align your team, and measure the results of your hard work.
Step 1: Strategize
Your first step to planning any campaign is to strategize. Identify three (3) to five (5) sectors on which you would like to focus. Proceed with identifying existing client relationships within the sector(s) of choice as well as “ideal” future clients.
A core part of impactful business development is building relationships, so if that means strengthening existing ones further, then that’s a good place for you to begin. Place your existing clients at the center of your operations so that you can foresee how all your decisions may affect them. A positive experience for your client signals a stronger relationship to build upon when delivering your campaigns. Essentially, your client’s success is your success, too. Pursuant to this, proceed with gathering strategic information to build a plan.
Ask yourself questions, such as:
• What value can you offer this client/prospect? in your identified sector?
• Why should they choose you and your practice?
• Who is your competition and why is your value proposition stronger? What are the differentiator factors for your practice and firm?
• What is your organizational buy-in?
• Have you defined/created your sector(s) team based on the skills required?
• Do you have strict guidelines, KPIs and a realistic budget to strategize your client development efforts?
Step 2: listen
Knowledge is power. You have worked very hard to become who you are today as a talented and well-respected practitioner in your practice of choice. Whether you are early in your career, or not, you are asked to deliver. This entails both superior legal advice and strong understanding of the industry sector(s) in which your clients and prospects conduct business.
The Listening dimension entails actively listening to your clients and targets along with following developments within the sector(s) in which they conduct business. Such approach will help you, and your team(s), tailor the outreach efforts in line with the targets’/clients’ business vision and values. Furthermore, it is equally important to take note of the developments within the legal field as well. This will provide you with key information as to legal sector trends, dynamics, and valuable competitor information pertaining to your clients/targets and sector(s) of choice.
Here’s how you can start actively listening to your clients, potential clients and their markets
• Subscribe to sector-focused content and market updates (e.g. media, blogs, trade and industry associations, company updates).
• Connect with, follow, and reach out to key contacts at your target companies to learn, and keep abreast, key developments.
• Become a constant presence at key industry events (including virtual) and actively participate in discussions/presentations that are relevant to your clients/prospects.
Step 3: Act
The time to Act is now—status quo is no longer an option.
As the word suggests, the Act dimension entails putting into motion and materializing of the Strategize and Listen steps.
Relevant content is often the driving force behind effective client acquisition campaigns as it creates tangible ideas that resonate well with your target audience. Regardless of whether it’s written material, such as blogs, e-books, whitepapers, or visual content from webinars to social media posts – they each carry their own strength. Which is why personalization of your content to the targeted market participants is paramount to acting decisively and impactfully.
Leveraging relevant content to initiate conversations and share your findings will be the highlight of this strategy. All good relationships begin with great conversations, and the heart of those conversations stems from the listening you did in the previous stage.
How can you get started with the Act stage?
• Set-up and fine-tune your LinkedIn/Twitter profile to reflect your sector(s) interest and practice focus.
• Start by sharing, and liking, the content on these platforms. No pressure to post your own insights immediately. Instead, you can share the sector news from your external sources or law firm’s blog.
• Partner with your mentor for relevant thought leadership and discuss ideas for pitches at monthly mentoring meetings – combination of reading news and reading about deals.
• Follow target companies within an industry and engage with key executives (e.g. like; share; comment; congratulate)
• Leverage your existing network to identify mutual connections.
• Develop a quarterly thought leadership content schedule. This includes publishing web content and speaking at conferences and webinars.
• Increase your participation at conferences by connecting and following up with the contacts you meet there to initiate relationships. Consider sponsoring relevant conferences to obtain session participant details for quality leads.
• Prepare in advance by learning thoroughly about sector and target companies prior to meeting them.
• Build a profile among target companies by posting/re-posting to social media and responding to comments.
• Review and understand company organizational/hierarchical structures so you can execute a multi-target outreach.
• Being able to speak to current issues within the sector and pitching your value-add insights by regular “listening” will make it easier to request referrals.
Step 4: Measure
You cannot improve and manage what you cannot measure.
Proactive monitoring and tracking of campaign success rate, KPIs and ROI are paramount to gaining a realistic view of your efforts and to planning your next steps.
What should you measure?
• Measuring the growth in social media engagement and followers. New connections within your focus sectors are a promising start.
• Measure social engagement like comments, shares, likes on LinkedIn and Twitter.
• Review the quality and quantity of client interactions and one-on-one conversations.
• Calculate your new pitch opportunities sourced through enhanced client development tactics.
• Determine how the existing client retention and new client acquisition rates have been affected because of your enhanced client development efforts? What about Profit/Partner or Profit/Timekeeper ratios?
Is status quo the answer?
In essence, if there’s no development in your pipeline with new business streams and not much sustainable growth in terms of your business relationships and revenue, then you need to redefine your tactics. Back to the drawing board with your team for better coordination and breakdown of activities. What’s working? What’s not working? How can you move past the roadblocks and amplify your success and, ultimately, your clients’ success?
While analyzing the results and performance indicators of your business acquisition efforts, you begin to realize the importance of relevant content/actionable sector information in making your efforts an astounding success.
For ease of reference and as to next steps, you may want to build a framework for your team to provide a multi-faceted view of your (and your team’s) efforts.
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