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We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.
In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in an insightful series of tweets posted by Google Ventures partner Rick Klau a few months ago. Klau, an entrepreneur familiar with the legal marketspace, observed in his tweets several themes common to successful meetings, presentations and pitches made by start-up companies looking for seed money. His advice is not only valuable to start-ups but also serves as an excellent set of reminders for law firms preparing to pitch to clients. Remember the five following tips, based on Klau’s tweets, as you prepare your next presentation:
Focus on the client, not the firm. Yes, this is your chance to share your firm’s capabilities, expertise and experience. But the meeting should focus on firm capabilities only in the context of who the client is and what the client needs and wants.
Tell your story. Specific examples of prior cases and/or transactions are a more compelling way to demonstrate your firm’s capability and experience. Stories will help your client better understand how you manage complex matters and work collaboratively among multiple practices and offices. Stories generally are a more comfortable way to “toot” your—and the firm’s—horn.
Prepare the agenda, but give the controls to the client. Come to the meeting prepared to discuss several key areas of concern to the client. Then let the client drive the conversation by picking the chronology of topics to be discussed.
Manage your time. It’s always wise to confirm the “time contract” at the beginning of the pitch meeting and save time for questions. Questions provide another opportunity for your client to reveal areas of greatest concern. In addition, be prepared to ask a few questions yourself—time permitting—to learn more about your client’s needs.
Conclude the meeting with a specific request or action plan. There’s no guarantee of a next step if you leave it up to the client. Whenever possible, be prepared to assign yourself responsibility for the next steps. Taking back the “controls” at the conclusion of the meeting can be as simple as saying: “How about if we…” followed by the proposed next action.
Combining a client-centered agenda and a relevant set of stories with effective time management will significantly improve your chances for a more memorable and ultimately successful pitch.