It’s a Great Time to Set Practice Goals: Improve Your Sales Skills

In the first installment of this article, we introduced the idea that the ultimate reward of most, if not all, business development activities is to close more sales (i.e. retaining more clients). To be effective in winning more clients, lawyers must learn and refine their “closing skills”. We addressed why pre-prospect meeting preparation is important; how to begin with “the end” in mind; and, how to connect with prospects once you have found them.

In this article, we will outline specific prospect presentation techniques and powerful closing tips.

While some lawyers have learned by the “sweat of their brow”, others recognize that “sales” is not something they 1. know how to do (and/or do effectively); 2. have been trained in; and, 3. are particularly interested to do. (“I went to law school to become a lawyer, not a sale person.”).

Considering this mindset, we have found that firms who retain professional business development skills (aka “sales”) trainers are pleased with the investment they make to help their lawyers overcome their reticence which is ever present in the highly competitive legal landscape and the guidance they receive with developing effective sales and closing tactics. (another article for another day).

You Scheduled a Prospect Presentation: Be Well Prepared – Training Can Help

To prepare for new business development opportunities, firms must leverage an arsenal of tactics to stand a “fighting chance”. Business development skills training sessions that focus on practical, results-oriented principles including the quality of your preparation and allowing the presentation to close the deal are key to sales success. These tried and true tactics will help you put your best foot forward:

Begin with opening arguments: Similar to introducing a case to a judge and/or jury, it is important not to waste the time of your audience. Lose the facts about your company; they can be found online. Really, don’t go there. If your prospect didn’t think you were skilled enough, you would not have been invited to the party.

Start your presentation with what you can do for the prospective client, how your service and strategy will help them be successful, protect their interests and/or save them money.

Understand needs: Inquire about the challenges the prospect is facing and what their competitors are doing. Developing an understanding of the issues the prospect is facing will provide you greater insight into the best way to approach them, ultimately fostering open communication and a more productive relationship.

Ask the Right Questions

Closing more sales requires asking targeted open-ended questions and actively listening to the responses from your prospects as they tell you what they want and how they need to be sold on the services that you provide. Consider these:

Questions to Uncover Aspirations and Problems:

  1. What keeps you up at night? (an oldie, but goodie.)
  2. In the best of all possible worlds, what do you think you could do with your business?
  1. What’s holding you back from reaching your revenue (or profit, or other) goals?
  2. If there were no restrictions on you, what business difficulties would you erase? Share with me why you say that.
  3. What does success look like for you and your business?

Questions to Uncover Impact of Solving (or Not Solving) Aspirations and Problems: Ask these open-ended questions to place a monetary value on solving your prospects’ problems or achieving their aspirations.

  1. If you could overcome these challenges, how would it impact your company’s financial situation?
  2. If you were to make this happen, what would it mean to your career?
  3. How would implementing these changes affect your ability to compete?
  4. How do you think senior management would evaluate the success of this initiative?
  5. If you don’t solve (insert the particular challenge here), what kind of difficulties will you face going forward?

Sometimes all you need is to ask one open-ended question and your prospect will share with you all the information you need to help them. Other times, you may need to ask a few but make sure you don’t overdo it.

If your prospect answers a question but you want her to expand a bit more, ask her, “how so?,” or “that’s interesting, tell me a little more about that” You’ll be surprised at just how much you can learn, and the difference it will make in your ability to help your prospect (to become client) succeed.

Speaking Skills Check Up: Preparing for Prospect Meetings

It’s extremely important to hone your speaking skills so that you can present an effective, convincing message when delivering presentations both within your firm, at industry conferences and at individual and prospect/client meetings. Professional training can help here.

THE CLOSE – Uncomfortable But Imperative

Obvious, perhaps, but you must ask for the work. Yes, this can be uncomfortable especially if you have not had much practice, so here’s how you do it:

Look the prospect right in the eye and say:

  • I’d be delighted to work with you.
  • I’d be honored to support you on this project.
  • Do you see any reason why we should not work together?
  • From what I have heard, I am confident that we are the right firm for this project. Let’s get started.

Business development tactics are not complicated. The following tactics are easy to implement during scheduled meetings and are surprisingly effective:

  • During every meeting with a prospect, iterate the benefits that your service offers.
  • As the meeting wraps up, restate the challenges and opportunities as the prospect sees them.
  • Close every call, meeting, or pitch with agreements on the next steps. Until your prospect has signed the engagement letter, there are ALWAYS “next steps”.
  • Don’t walk out of the meeting until “Next Steps” have been defined and agreed upon by prospect.

To learn the requisite concrete habits you must develop to become the rainmaker you are meant to be, click the buton below for a free download of Top Habits of Successful Rainmakers. Do it today!

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