What Your Clients Are Requesting Now
It is hard to believe that we are halfway through 2018. Time flies when you are having fun! Many of you have vacations planned over the next several months, and summer is a perfect time to step back and assess what you are doing well and where you might need to check in with your clients before the intensity of Q3 and Q4. While many of your clients are out for vacation time, the pace slows down a bit in summer months and people are more available for conversation. It’s a perfect time to plan for the rest of the year.
We have conducted over 40 interviews just in the past month, and two themes are rising to the top that you should proactively address now:
- Clients want to hear from you and see you more! Clients continue to highly value the lawyers who take time to reach out and notify them of issues they should be thinking about. They love the lawyers “that help us see around the corner and think about things before they have even crossed our desk.” And in the age of technology, they want and expect a personal connection with their best outside counsel relationships. As one in-house counsel recently told me, “It eliminates the difficult conversations when you have a personal connection.” Most want to see you at least once a year at their place of business on your dime. Some request twice a year, but they don’t want to see you every quarter. They don’t want to be sold to or introduced to your colleagues that have little or no alignment with their businesses, but they are shocked that most of their best relationships do not visit them regularly and/or take the time to call when there is no active matter.
- Clients are laser focused on alternative fees, particularly those that produce predictability and shared risk. The topic is coming up in every single interview today. Far too many lawyers are waiting for their clients to bring up the topic. Clients expect you to be proactive and provide options outside of the billable hour. If you are not, they are likely sending available work to another firm that is being proactive and creative on fees. Bring in your pricing people if you are not comfortable with the discussion. The last ten interviews I have conducted all discussed major internal initiatives regarding predictability or alternative fees.
Make the most of the quiet time you have now and do a few small things that will make a tremendous impact on your current and prospective client relationships:
- Call your top ten clients /prospects just to check in.You don’t need a reason to call someone and tell them you were thinking of them! Ask them where they are going for summer vacation. Share a book, article or podcast that they might enjoy over their vacation. Plan a trip to see them. Share something of value that would help them personally or professionally.
- Commit to visiting your top five clients before the end of 2018. Call them now and get the date on the books.
- Start or continue a dialogue about alternative fees. Assess where you have used alternative fees successfully and learn from those models. Share those experiences with your clients and ask them what models have been working for them.
- Think about the five most exciting projects you have worked on in the last 12 months. Assess what you have learned (trends, market forecasting, sea changes, new approaches) and how you can share that learning with current and prospective clients.
- Learn about your new colleagues. Many of your firms have new lawyers with new areas of expertise that would bring tremendous value to your clients.
Sooner than we would like, we will be inundated with heavy workloads and year-end deadlines. Take the time during these quiet moments to make connections and build relationships with your clients that matter most.