Monday 10 December 2018, Guildford

Thanks to Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) for hosting this event. There was a good turnout of 16 Business Development orientated individuals from a cross-range of Law Firms and other Professional Businesses, plus one fee earner from CRS in attendance.  Claire Mitchell from PM Forum introduced and led the session.

Larry Cattle from Cattle Consulting led a very interesting and interactive session on ‘Helping Fee Earners to Sell’. Larry has a background working for and providing consultancy services to organisations as diverse as Unilever, Abbey Life, Natwest, Guardian Royal and Bird and Bird.

We started with a discussion around the room with those who had worked in different business environments and how that had impacted on the way they went about approaching sales. Larry then discussed why professional services (with a distinct focus on the legal profession) struggle with selling.  Conclusions ranged from lack of training, silo mentality through to difficulty in selling ‘services’.

We then looked at some research from Dr Larry Richard about the traits of lawyers versus their peers and also the public. Lawyers ten to be more sceptical, have higher autonomy and urgency but less sociability and resilience to criticism or being knocked back. There was an examination of what differentiates the Partners of the Big Four Accountancy Firms.  Most of them are technically great but only a few can generate big fee income and have the creed of commercialism. Those rise to the top.

Larry showed a slide about the 10 steps to convert a contact to a client and there was a general discussion about how the BD function could help fee earners sell, including addressing the reasons why fee earners hate the process and providing them with a ‘script’ of questions they can ask when in a sales situation to widen the conversation topics.

Making things happen (three focus areas):

i)              Help fee earners to make time

ii)             Don’t be too ambitious

iii)            Tell them to measure everything for result purposes

Other ideas put forward by Larry to help Professional Firms (Law in particular) cross-sell and market:

i)              Identify 10 opportunities across the Firm where you work. Speak to other  partners and those in other departments.

ii)             Trade Fair: Get departments to hold a session where they explain what they do and sell services to one another.

iii)            Personal Marketing Plan. Everyone should have one of these to provide structure.

Final area discussed was Larry Cattle’s programme called ‘Project Connect’. This basically condenses down into encouraging all in the Firm to have more coffee meetings with others outside the Firm (and with those inside the Firm) It’s low outlay and encourages new contacts and increased instructions as well as deepening relationships.  All in all an excellent and useful session that was well received by those in the room. 

Chris Hunter – Business Development Manager, rhw Solicitors LLP