Have you ever been to the doctor where the doctor has prescribed a treatment for your ailment before asking the important questions to find out what your ailment is?
If you have, you might want to consider seeing another doctor!
Any good doctor will go through the important list of diagnostic questions before he or she prescribes the appropriate treatment. So why can it be so difficult for professionals in other lines of work to do the same thing when it comes to prescribing the right “treatment” to prospective clients?
For those of you who did not make it to this year’s LMA (Legal Marketing Association) Annual Conference in Atlanta, you missed a great conference. It was well attended, which made it good for networking, and there was plenty of good content to absorb. Here are some of the highlights from my perspective.
Spring has sprung, which is typically the time to start bringing our yards back to life.
We all know that if we don’t invest the time in taking care of our yards, our plants, fruit trees, and lawns will eventually wither away and die. The same goes for our existing client relationships. I am not necessarily talking about our active clients, but the clients we have known for years but have not heard from in a long time.
It’s time to reset and plan for a successful 2018! How many of you are looking to improve your business this year? Some people are looking for ways to work more, others are looking to work less. Suffice it to say that many are wanting to work smarter. Whatever your situation may be, here are some helpful business development tips and reminders to set you on course for a successful year.
Start with a “2017 Lookback”
Now is a great time to assess what went well last year, and what can be improved moving forward. It can be a tactical assessment such as “I didn’t follow up with clients or prospective clients as well as I could have,” or “preparation for several of my client meetings could have been better.” Or it could be more strategic such as “I seemed to have spent too much time courting people who probably won’t give me business.” Running data on your top 10 clients to see how much revenue you generated or how much in the pipeline you have could be an excellent benchmark for setting new goals with those clients in 2018. Then, you can:
Set realistic and stretch goals
Whether it is spending more time with meaningful clients, prospective clients, your passions, or your family, set your sights on goals that can be accomplished in small steps, yet don’t be afraid to set goals that might even be a stretch. For example, you might have a specific revenue goal in mind for this year. Set your baseline goal that you are confident is within reach, then add a stretch goal that might be 25-30% above your baseline. Aim for the stretch goal. If you end up short but still meet or exceed your baseline goal, the year was still a success. Remember, these are not forecasts that are submitted to management, rather your own personal goals.
Target the right people
Having a strategic roadmap of who you want to target and how you want to go about building those relationships can make a huge difference in your success as a rainmaker. Too often I speak with my clients who are targeting the wrong people. For practitioners whose business development time is so precious, WHO you target is so much more important than HOW you target. You may have mastered how to get in front of people, but if they are not the right ones, your honed skills are going to waste. Just because someone will always return your emails and meet you for lunch doesn’t mean that they are going to be a profitable client.
How many clients and prospective clients do you know on a professional level but not on a personal level? Most purchases are made on an emotional level and are based on trust. To get to this level it is important to understand what really makes that person tick and what is important to him or her – professionally and personally. I am not suggesting you need to become close friends with your clients, but getting to know them more as people instead of just buyers can make a huge difference in building the trust that can turn them into long term clients. A simple question such as “what do you enjoy doing outside of work?” can open the conversation and relationship to another level. And it is even better when you discover that several of these people share similar passions of yours! You have instantly learned other ways to keep in touch and stay top of mind. You may also develop some wonderful friendships along the way.
Set your priorities!
So often people lose track of their priorities in life. Understandably so when heavy workloads override one’s ability to focus on priorities. That said, it is still so important to reset your priorities for this year and find ways that will help you stay on course. People can be masters of excuses when they lose focus of what is most important to them. “I would work out more but I just don’t have any time for it.” “I should reach out to more prospective clients but I have too much work to do.” If it is important enough, you will make the time for it. Whether it is getting an earlier start in the day, scheduling it in your calendar, or putting it ahead of other things that can wait until later. Identify what is important to you and make the time for it!
Most importantly, don’t forget to find time to relax, take a breather, and enjoy what is most important to you. Recharging the batteries can make a huge difference in your productivity for yourself, your firm, and your clients. Now is the time to reset and focus on making this a successful year. Don’t wait to make the changes until next year. It might be too late!
Written by: Doug Ott
I have noticed a common theme with the people I coach and train – most of them appreciate the importance of organization in the business development part of their practice.