July 19, 2013
Another important area to evaluate, if you are not generating the amount and type of business you need, is the quality of the leads you do have. When Mike O’Horo (friendly competitor) and I assess an individual lawyer’s opportunities, and ask for a self-assessment of their pipeline, we often find that a percentage of the leads have gone stale. Even if they were originally vibrant, the prospect has been so long without making a decision that circumstances have rendered the question moot. Or perhaps your stakeholders have shifted their attention to problems with greater impact.
What is obviously called for here is an “eyes-open” evaluation of whether or not your leads are high quality. Is there a specific business problem? Has the prospect acknowledged, described and quantified its operational and economic impact? If after this reassessment, your leads are, if fact high-quality, your problem is lead-conversion (sales), not lead-generation (marketing).
Get them out of your pipeline. Although attorneys are reluctant to remove long-term prospects, the best way to do that is to get a decision. The second best way is to decide unilaterally that the alleged opportunity isn’t worth your time. (There is no third way). It’s hard to do the second with any confidence because your decision is likely under-informed; so focus on the best way.
Facilitate a decision. Stop trying to get them to buy, and begin helping them make a decision, of any kind, whether it’s to your advantage or not. Those with a stake in a problem want to make a decision, but it’s hard and often risky. Before you push for them to take a specific action, such as hiring you, help them make sure they have to take any action at all. After all, many problems don’t justify the risk of decision-making or investment.
One more self-examination question – are you talking to the most influential decision maker? If you are dealing with an in-house counsel, human resources director or business unit executive on their legal problem, ask who will be reviewing your proposal and making the decision. During your prospecting discussions, make sure you ask about their decision-making process, who else might be involved, and if they desire written materials in a format that executives may be comfortable with, as opposed to legalese.