Despite riding out the tumultuous economic climate and hanging onto most of your clients, you recognize that the legal services paradigm is changing dramatically. Clients are tougher to satisfy than ever before and you realize that “business as usual” is not cutting it any more. To build and grow a healthy practice in this shifting landscape, new and different actions are required. But, what should you do differently? It may be time to reassess the investment you and your firm are making in your business development efforts and programs.
It may be time to ask – “are we providing proper support to our attorneys interested and capable of building a healthy book of business”? Do I have the proper support for my practice or could it be better?
Enter the Coach
Buzz has been made about the merits of working with a coach to partner with lawyers in a collaborative fashion to guide them strategically to greater practice success. Someone who’s sole focus it is to help lawyers assess their practice, evaluate client expansion, new business and cross-selling opportunities, and objectively direct them to develop a targeted plan on how to realize their business goals. This does not happen overnight but through taking steady, measured steps on a daily basis and developing a marketing mindset. That is often where the plan often falters – in the implementation.
Rainmaking lawyers are often too busy or their personalities too formidable to actually ask for help. Yet, they could grow their book substantially if they took the time to evaluate succinctly where existing opportunities lie. A coach can help with that.
Whether you are a sole practitioner or head of your firm, engaging the services of a business development coach can serve your purposes of developing and growing your client base. But, are you ready?
You will know you are ready to work with a business development coach when you:
▪ think of your practice as your own business.
▪ recognize that you could improve your book if you had a more focused plan and were able to follow it.
▪ have a plan but are not seeing the results you want.
▪ are tired of wasting time on random acts of marketing with little or no results.
▪ want to take your practice and/or your firm to a higher level.
▪ see potential in growing your client base but it just hasn’t happened to this point.
▪ are willing and committed to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Setting Up Shop
When you begin thinking as an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to leverage your firm’s resources such as its branding, reputation, marketplace position, your partners’ reputations, the vast amount of in-house expertise to build your “franchise”. A coach can advise on how to most effectively accomplish this.
What Should You Expect?
For anyone who has worked with a personal trainer, you know there is a period of a learning curve, of getting to know one another and how the trainer can develop a program which works best for you. Hercules did not develop his muscles overnight.
Likewise, there are new skills to learn and practice, and you will always enjoy the personal attention and focus you will receive from your coach. She will help you become more strategic in your business development approach and efforts, if you expend the energy to it. She will also be a guiding source of motivation and support to help you reach your goals and have fun along the way.
We all need some extra help from time to time, particularly in such a hard-charging, fiercely competitive corporate environment. Working with a coach can help alleviate some of the uncertainty and stress of whether or not you are plowing forward in a smart and savvy way in your practice. After becoming more educated and sensitized to constructive business development behaviors and marketing tactics, you will reap the rewards of integrating these new behaviors into your daily practice and they will become second nature. You will become more confident in your efforts and grow to trust your instincts in existing and new client opportunities.
Who is a Good Student?
All of my coaching clients are highly skilled lawyers, successful in their own right within their firm and community, and are overachievers. They recognize the things at which they excel and the things with which they could benefit from outside expertise. In short, they are “teachable”. These are the folks who most greatly benefit from a coach. They want to exploit every available tool to help them succeed.
Some of my clients have enjoyed a coaching relationship since they first began their law career years ago. Over time, we have assessed their changing needs at various stages of their practice, and adapted an appropriate plan which continues to address their ongoing efforts and approach.
One recent client stated, “Practical skills are not taught in law school and rarely within a firm so we are left to our own devices to figure out how to develop new clients. I’m grateful I found a coach early on to enlighten me on the professional way to build client relationships and bring in new business.”