Whether you choose to focus on current clients and referral sources or to spend your time looking for new ones, the marketing tactic that is most critical in this changing economy is increasing the value you provide. This need is hardly limited to the legal world. In his book, What the Customer Wants You to Know, consultant Ram Charan described how the internet and the global economy are changing the way customers think and what it means to people who sell: "[Businesses] are under enormous pressure to deliver value to their clients and their shareholders. They are compelled to use the newfound power of transparency and overcapacity to drive down prices." One result is that the traditional tools of business development - "long-term relationships, golf games, skybox seats and theater outings" - are losing their power (p. 4).The same trends have now come to the legal world, with a vengeance. In a June 2009 survey, Altman Weil reported:
[There has been] a dramatic vote of no confidence from Chief Legal Officers. Either many law firms just don't understand that clients today expect greater value and predictability in staffing and pricing legal work, or firms are failing to adequately communicate their understanding and willingness to make real change. In either case, it's a big problem.
In interpreting this result and others from the survey, they noted that:
CLOs rated the importance of "relationships" with outside law firms at exactly the same low level, whether for critical work, important work or commodity work. The personal element apparently doesn't carry as much weight in the hiring decision in 2009.
How do you deliver more value? Value lies in the eye of the beholder, so it all starts with asking clients questions like this:
To read more, visit the Legal Business Development Blog.