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How the Sales Landscape Has Changed for Firms—And How They Should Respond

The LMA 2021 Annual Conference happened! It was good to be with colleagues and friends face to face to learn and share our experiences. One benefit of lighter attendance was the opportunity for many discussion-oriented sessions. On Saturday morning I attended a great workshop, “No Longer Taboo: Helping Lawyers Embrace the Power of Selling to Win More Clients,”  lead by Erin Meszaros and Rory Channer.

Both have pioneered sales strategies in law firms and studied the habits and traits of top rainmakers to better understand how to support their sales efforts as well as train others. While their career paths are very different, their patience, tenacity and resilience have allowed them to make an impact in their organizations and inspire others.

Here are some key takeaways from the session:

  • In the past decade, B2B sales has changed dramatically:
    • Decision making has moved from one (the GC) to many (legal ops, procurement) and the process is slower
    • More choices are available
    • Suppliers (law firms) are not engaged as early in the process, leading to cost comparison decisions vs. identifying the best solution
    • Information overload makes it challenging to break through the noise
  • In response, successful law firm sales efforts must:
    • Focus on key accounts and relationship mapping
    • Expand relationships with legal ops teams
    • Obtain client feedback
    • Facilitate discussions with decision makers early and often to understand problems and needs and provide proactive insights
    • Find opportunities to introduce new ways of thinking, internally and externally
    • Implement must-have technology and knowledge management systems, i.e. CRM, ERM and pipeline management
    • Adjust sales skills training to include changing needs like empathy and target/prospect identification
    • Design direct and highly focused marketing strategies

One of the biggest testaments to the changing law firm sales landscape that we’ve observed recently is the addition of sales clubs (like those used by corporate organizations to reward their top producers). I left the LMA conference to attend a small gathering of one such club made up of a firm’s top rainmakers. Since starting six years ago, this group has grown from 16 to 41 members and the the revenue threshold for membership has also increased.

They were recognized for successful business generation, collaboration and cross selling. This club and others like it are helping firms embrace industry sales changes successfully and making a big impact.

Look at your firm’s sales efforts today. Are they centered around client relationships, client feedback, pipeline management, and new training skills? These are the types of efforts that are helping firms flourish today and position themselves for future success.

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