May 16, 2016

Getting the clients and winning the pitch...a note for lawyers! by Abayomi Okubote

It does seem like a herculean task for many lawyers to attract the big clients and cash the fat cheques. Apart from the Rules of professional conduct in Nigeria, which forbids advertisement (of course the world has moved beyond those rigid rules), many lawyers are unwilling to “market” or perhaps have not realized that marketing and business development are part of being successful lawyers and are essential to operating a successful law firm. We need to realize that the competition in the legal industry is fierce - many large firms (within and outside Nigeria) are now developing robust and sophisticated marketing and client management strategies.

Notably also is that competition comes from other places aside the law firms – many financial consultants and advisors now offer services that were previously exclusive to lawyers, thus, reducing the pie available for lawyers. The foregoing portends the need for us to up the ante and develop new strategies to sustain the law business without necessarily breaching the old wagon advisement rules.

The pertinent questions are – what are the key strategies to getting the deal? How do we make the winning pitch? How do we attract the big clients? Do we necessarily need to think outside the box to get new clients or do we just maintain and deepen existing relationships? Here are some of the few tips I learnt from one of my ILFA Seminars in London –

1.     Think about your contacts: this adopts a 4 prong approach – (x) think of new contacts you have just met or about to meet, (y) develop contactsthat you have not worked with extensively but if developed could bring strong revenue flows, (z) explore contacts you have met a number of times but have not yet worked with – firm clients that we could cross-sell to, (xx)protect long standing relationships and revenue generating contacts;

2.     Develop high appetite for networking: Attendance of conferences, seminars, social/drinks party, and relationship firms’ events is key to a productive networking. This adopts a 5 prong approach – (x) research people attending the conference, seminar or drinks and identifies your prospective clients (ask yourself, who is interested in my service offerings? who do I need to talk to? (y) prepare your point of view on discussions and share your with your prospective clients, (z) focus on helping or connecting with the problems or engage in discussion and not selling, (xx) ask relevant questions and listen, (yy) follow up within 24 hours and develop the relationship;

3.     Set up informal and formal meetings with your contact or prospective clients: (x) organize general catch up meetings with existing clients or new contacts, (y) set up meetings to discuss specific issues, (z) organize meetings to establish credentials with a new contact, and (xx) organize formal client presentation and

4. Identify and develop new service offerings with cutting edge opportunities and sell to new and existing clients.

In sum, what brings the work/client is not always the name of the firm butfamiliarity with clients and relationship firms, knowledge of industry needs,understanding of the clients’ problem and trust.

The best place to catch fishes is their natural environment, so seek out prospective clients in their natural environment and advance the relationship at each opportunity. It does take time, commitment and perseverance but the rewards could be well worth it!

Abayomi wrote it!

Ed's Note - This article was originally published here