August 3, 2012

There are a variety of approaches to developing business, and many different conversations that can strengthen or damage a relationship.  Here are three common approaches, only one of which stands a chance of succeeding:

Lawyer A, who asks: “So, tell me what your company does” is viewed as unprepared — not a trait clients particularly look for when hiring their lawyer. Clients resent this lack of preparation, especially since the lawyer invited the client to lunch to try to sell him something.

Lawyer B, who spends the lunch hour talking about herself and her firm. (In kindergarten we called this Bragging.  Why do we think that having an advanced degree changes this into Marketing?  It’s still distasteful.)  Successful salespeople talk less and listen more. Experts claim that a salesperson who does more than 20% of the talking will not succeed.

Lawyer C, who has done his homework on the company and can ask more specific questions to flesh out some of the most likely opportunities wherever they happen to exist, and discover possible additional opportunities. This lawyer says, “I see that you are considering expanding into a new market, have you considered that . . . .”

Today, with the massive amount of information available online, there’s no excuse to be unprepared.  Fill out a Google Alert ( in your client’s name to get regular updates regarding their activities.  Depending upon the size of the company and how frequently they’re in the news, you might find that you need to restrict the search terms.  Try it.