We spend our days interviewing very smart, interesting people from every business imaginable. And while each interview is unique, almost every client cares deeply about three questions in particular. Positioning yourself to be the answer to these three questions will put you on the path to building trusted, long-lasting partnerships and standing well above the competition.
1. Can you fix my problem? There has never been a more challenging time for in-house counsel. They are being asked to do more with less, handle issues far beyond their specific areas of expertise and deal successfully with the pressures of marketplace and industry demands. Lawyers need to solve the immediate problems their clients are facing instead of selling what is in the firm’s best interests. Once those problems are handled, taking the time to understand clients’ businesses, challenges, goals and growth strategies is the only way the firm can fully meet its clients’ needs and start building trusted relationships.
2. Will you make my life easier? We hear this question constantly from clients, and taking time to find out how you can make your clients’ lives easier is worth its weight in gold. How do they prefer to communicate, email or telephone? Do they prefer executive summaries and bullet points to forward on to others? How can you help them meet their deadlines? Do they prefer status updates in a particular format? Who should receive the bills? Making small adjustments to be more client-service oriented will have a huge impact.
3. Do I like you as a person? There has never been a more competitive time for lawyers and law firms. Clients have more choices than ever before, and consumers are becoming incredibly educated on their buying power. They want to enjoy spending time with their outside counsel, and liking someone has a HUGE impact on who they hire. Whether it relates to the communication style, the passion for the work, the kindness for the team, the appreciation for the challenges or the shared values and interests, your clients tend to care about one thing above all others: Do I like you as a person and do I enjoy working with you? As one recent client told us, “Smart is why you got in the door. How you manage the relationship is what keeps you inside.” Don’t underestimate what you learned in kindergarten—treat others how you want to be treated.