It’s a New Year and a great time to set practice goals.
As you reflect upon the past year’s business development results, you may recognize something needs to change to align your efforts with better results. You’ve spent time having lunches with key contacts; attending networking events; and even following up (most of the time) but are unclear how these activities may have fallen short in translating into new clients and more work.
Like we often advise our clients, there is no magic bullet to increasing the client roster in that no one activity will accomplish in and of itself the results you seek. That said, there is no higher impact business development initiative than to be face to face with qualified targeted prospects. When you have the great fortune to be there, do not squander the opportunity by being unprepared or lacking the “know how” to close the business.
Anyone who aspires to be an effective rainmaker and marketer must refine his/her closing skills. Many lawyers are adept with getting their feet in the door. Some are even quite successful in developing new leads consistently. But completing the cycle by converting contacts into signed contracts takes an approach that only few have mastered but all can learn and implement.
Understanding that closing is a process and not an event means that you must always work to generate the next contact and keep the relationship growing in order to move the process forward.
Below are a few solid closing strategies which you may integrate into this year’s business development endeavors:
Planning is Important. Prior to engaging in high-impact discussions with potential clients, one business development strategy which is often overlooked is taking the time to identify your prospects’ needs so that you are prepared when you meet them face to face.
Here are a few key questions to answer before a prospect meeting:
• What “need triggers” does the prospect have for your services?
• What services does your prospect consider important and essential?
• Who are their competitors and what is their competitive position?
We often work through the answers to these questions with our clients to support more favorable results. Having a prospect list is great; substantiating prospects’ potential with a customized game plan places clients’ in a much stronger position for success.
Begin with the end in mind
While some folks assume that closing happens at the end of the sales process, the truth is that closing starts with the very first contact or meeting and continues with every subsequent communication.
There are a few important skills to master along the closing path:
• Be efficient: Focus on providing value at every stage of the closing process rather than pushing too hard for the sale.
• Be confident: Enter the closing process with a positive mindset which is clear to your prospect.
• Demonstrate your “client-centric” focus: Speak in benefits, not features, and address prospect concerns all along the way.
• Differentiate yourself from competitors: Share with prospects how you have achieved results and focus on the strategic steps you took to get there.
Don’t forget the importance of understanding the prospect’s decision-making process. Before an initial meeting is concluded, knowing the answers to the questions below will be a good way to keep the dialogue open and move the process forward:
- who else may be involved in decision-making process
- decision-making timing
- additional information needed to reach a favorable decision
The formal presentation is the pinnacle of business development – the time when you are face to face with prospects. This is the very time everyone involved must be at the top of his game. If you’ve been buckling when the pressure is on, you may be relieved to learn that there are actions to step up your game.
To start connecting, you must build a rapport with your prospects.
The following are steps critical to making a connection:
• Leverage preparation as an asset. Don’t hesitate to refer to your notes during the meeting – this is a sure sign that you’ve done your homework.
• Use your pre-meeting research to demonstrate what you have learned about your prospects, their practices, and challenges they may be facing.
• Outline with your prospect a clear, succinct list of their needs and/or challenges.
• Be clear about your strengths and service benefits when you are engaged in selling. Ensure that your message is strong and presented confidently that you’re the best one to handle the work.
Effective marketing ultimately ends with developing solid closing skills. Building a rapport with your prospects will help you choose the right tools to close more business.
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!