Building and growing a prosperous business is a long-term investment of time, effort and resources. There is nothing likely in your past work history that has prepared you to taking the helm of your own enterprise, unless, of course, you have actually owned and operated a separate business.
Not to discourage you off the bat, but rather to outline realistic expectations. So many lawyers that I coach are typically overwhelmed with the time involved in attracting new clients, actually performing the services you have been retained to provide, to manage your business operations and staff and collect the fees you have billed.
Below are a few insights to help make your journey a tad easier and reassure you if you are stretched, that is a positive sign for growth.
Taking proactive and consistent steps to build and strengthen professional relationships is imperative to developing a prosperous business. Studies inform us that to appear on prospects’ radar, one must make at least 7-10 contacts (or, we refer to as “touches”) within a calendar year. Yet, when lawyers sense they are not yielding the results commiserate with their investment, they become frustrated and consider other options. Do not be deterred, “stay the course!”
One of the distinctions between lawyers who become frustrated and give up on their client development activities and successful rainmakers is committing to stay the course, despite disappointing short-term results. From one business owner to another, there is no short cut to building solid professional relationships than getting in front of qualified prospects on a consistent basis over a time. Despite that truth, lawyers (especially for those who do not have and/or execute an integrated marketing plan) frequently employ a random approach that yields few to no results.
Law of Averages
Despite not being a sports fan, I do know that in baseball if a batter hits 30 home runs in a season of about 500-600 at bats, he will likely be named an All Star. For a professional baseball homerun hitter, therefore, success may only occur 5% of his at bats. Likewise, to implement a focused approach to building professional relationships, which are likely to result in new clients, you must be prepared to strike out on occasion. Do not be dissuaded.
Successful rainmakers understand this and embrace it. They cultivate relationships regularly by being helpful to others, by making connections, for others, and find ways to stay top of mind.
No Room for Risk Aversion
They also know that attracting new clients and new matters requires taking calculated risks and that likely only 20% of their activity will yield direct results. They also know that while it is critical to be strategic about where to invest their time and energy, it is impossible to know in advance which of the 80% of their activity will not be fruitful.
Rejection on the Face
Working in our fast-paced world, most of us struggle to manage our Inbox. When reaching out to networking contacts or prospects, it can be highly challenging when our outreach is met with silence. As we all strive to effectively manage our communications, it’s important to understand the communications preferences of our clients and contact. In light of that and the sheer volume, many folks simply do not respond or even acknowledge each message. To them, it could be a simple time management technique.
It is frustrating when someone does not respond to a message that we have sent via e-mail, left on voice mail or with an assistant. It looks like rejection. When two or three messages go unanswered, most will give up. To save our bruised egos any further indignity, we just stop trying. However, to do so, we leave opportunity on the table.
Here is the good news: Silence is not ‘no’; it can merely be the temporary absence of ‘yes’ or ‘just not now’.
Until a prospect tells you directly that she has no need for your service, you cannot know with any certainly why they are not responding; and if the individual is someone with whom you really want to do business, you should keep trying.
Using a “multimedia” approach can also be helpful (send an e-mail first, then call and leave voice mail followed by checking with an assistant third and then possibly even send a letter. Be sure your targeted prospects are on your frequent contact list to receive articles and updates. Doing so can be a great memory jogger, if you will.
In some ways, it is vain to perceive that a lack of response has anything to do with you. There are many reasons why someone may not return your call or respond to your email. Coaching lawyers over many years, I have heard too many stories with the similar theme “I met this potential client nearly 2 years ago, hadn’t connected in months and out of the blue, I receive a call that he has a matter for me”.
Stay Focused and Carry On
In most cases, my clients were eventually retained and the new clients apologized for being unavailable for so long. In these cases, the potential clients’ unresponsiveness had nothing to do with my clients and had they not remained persistent in their outreach, they would have forgone a new client.
Net-net: Building a prosperous business requires a steely grit that you to forge on despite immediate circumstances. If you have a strategic plan of action, are targeting qualified prospects in a meaningful way in a consistent and persistent manner, you will ultimately develop the business you are working for.
To sum: The Secret Sauce for marketing success is the consistent, persistent massive amounts of action over a prolonged period of time. That’s it. Nothing complicated but challenging, nonetheless. Ask yourself: how badly do you want to control your professional destiny and what are you willing to do to achieve it? Stay focused and carry on. Kimberly Rice