Wednesday 23 May 2018, London

Anna Lind – Director, Client Relationship Management, JLL, welcomed everyone.

Each of the speakers took one of the elements of the virtuous circle of client focus: building relationships, pricing & proposals, doing the work and post-transaction activity. 

Building Relationships: Tracey Byer –  Head of Client Development, EMEA JLL

Connecting with clients 

Why should you care about relationships?

Tracey presented figures which said that the contributions to customer loyalty were:

  • Company impact and brand 19%
  • Product and service delivery 19%
  • Value to price ratio 9%
  • Sales experience 53% - therefore important – and where successful offers unique and valuable perspectives in the market; helps navigate the client to alternatives.

Has technology changed customer decision-making?

Tracey showed a model that stated that since end of 2015/early 2016 people are using the web to assess options – so eroding the role of sales.  81% of customers get in touch at the decision stage causing disruption to the status quo. 

She showed a Harvard Business School model which maintains that the traditional relationship where the information and interaction flowed from product/ to seller/ then to buyer has reversed and now flows buyer/ to seller/ to product. This means that marketing’s role of making the buyer aware of the offering is vital.  

How automation is changing the business: is your firm aligned?

In the light of the above – the roles are:

  • Marketing generating demand,delivering leads
  • Sales converting leads to customers
  • Services making customers successful 

Interestingly, due to the importance of messaging, Tracey said she’s aware of some firms hiring journalists. 

Why do people buy from you/ your firm?

Carnegie Institute of Technology:

“85% of firms’ success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Shockingly, only 15% due to technical knowledge”.

Pricing & Proposals: Steph Hogg –  Validatum Limited

Understanding client and procurement needs

Steph put her presentation in the context of a quote from Buying Legal Council: the ‘noose’ is getting tighter. 

Strategic Buying needs Strategic Selling

She underlined the importance of preparation and that you must be in touch with clients in advance of a tender as otherwise it’s too late. That people buy from people, that the business priorities determine the buying targets and that a buyer has to demonstrate value, manage and report on the  money. Relationships and trust take years to nurture and are broken in an instant!

Who’s actually buying your services?

Teams include in-house legal, business, procurement and finance people – all with different motivations and agendas. Steph referenced the General Counsel Excellence Report which showed that primary factors were top-rated individuals, focus on the sector, business expertise, reputation, brand and then cost.

Business leaders are looking for:

  • Help delivering business objectives
  • The right size job (the shed not the Shard!)
  • Pricing options
  • Clearly defined scope and deliverables
  • Cost clarity/ options
  • Risk management
  • Commercially focused legal advice.

So firms need to be clear on what the client is getting for the money.

Procurement’s motivation – is savings. They are typically charged with x10 FTE salary in savings. Finance teams are keen to meet objectives within budget unsurprisingly.

Request for Proposal Typical Selection Criteria:

  • Capability and experience including jurisdictional coverage
  • Commercial offering – rates, AFAs
  • Value added service – specific to the business, client can choose from a list
  • Ease of doing business  eg reporting on time, delivery on time (important for credibility of procurement manager)
  • CSR & Diversity – increasingly important, matched to needs of client; client needs to see it’s not just a policy

E.g. who are you pitching to? A mixed race, mixed gender team: therefore has a mix of interests and personalities and so a better chance of building rapport (how they feel about our team, whether the could trust us) so matching makes a difference.

The weighting of criteria changes every time you pitch so those who have a head start on the relationship have a head start on the procurement.

Altman Weil 2017 Client Survey

Showed guaranteed pricing is most valued. We can do this by giving an overview on pricing, giving transparency and sign-posting, and if there is a change explaining why early. Otherwise supplier will get the blame in the face of sudden overruns/ billing huge WIP/ or missing a bulk discount.

Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) quote:

“The big joke is that when procurement departments deal with law firms, lawyers give discounts in 5% chunks. Can you imagine that happening in other industries? When you're negotiating with, say, a photocopier supplier, they'll say something like: ‘the most we can give you is 0.83% discount on that product’. But lawyers choose 5, 10, 15 or 20%. It's hilarious!”

Manage me

  • Getting on the panel doesn’t guarantee work
  • Get to know the business and their priorities
  • Being easy to do business with essential
  • Commercially manage matters, rebates and me!
  • Reporting is a selling tool as well as a pain…

Be more consultant! 

Doing the work: Polly Fox – Senior Disputes Lawyer, Transport for London

Irritants to avoid!

Polly’s comments were as an individual not as a representative of Transport for London. Polly used lots of examples to bring to life the ‘irritants’ that in-house lawyers have when dealing with outside legal teams:

  • Bringing in additional experts e.g. IP, tax is all very well – but the expectation is that you’ll charge for all of them; so be transparent, cap costs, be clear in your billing
  • Partners should demonstrate commitment, not charging for all the time; read the papers and be up to date; raise it when appropriate
  • Don’t look down on the in-house legal team!
  • Billing: are you checking what’s been sent out to us??    Proof read before sending!
  • Don’t pitch the A team and give us the B team to deliver
  • Case conferences: once in the diary, respect them and don’t move – we have an expectation that they are happening and are working to them; eg story about a partner going to USA for a jolly trip; who then did re-think and attended the case conference
  • Be transparent about your availability – if working from home, or a part-time worker; or not contactable; we will respect this
  • Billing at Year End: make sure you know about Public Sector Accounting which has 13 billing periods; make sure you explain what you’ve done and how/why it took so long
  • If there’s an error in your drafting or opinion; don’t be snippy! Apologise
  • No-one wants to read 10 pages of an email! Send 2 lines of the answer and keep the long draft ‘in the drawer’!
  • The best advisors send short reports which are simple and easy to understand
  • For public sector clients, who can’t accept hospitality, offer training or a personal to development, so you can still build the relationship and they can get something of benefit too
  • Polly likes 5% discounts!
  • Treat those you’re working with with respect!

Post-transaction: Dominic Green – Head of Data and Research Products, Deloitte

Think about what’s next and what you need to do and who should do it

Dominic looked at demonstrating value post transaction. He introduced his model Focusing relationship activity which looks at the Nature of the Service at the centre with frequency, changeability and multidisciplinary elements at three points of a triangle.

The way that you are interacting with a client determines what course of action to take e.g. focus on deepening relationships, focus on service delivery or focus on broadening relationships:

Slide For London May 2018 Report 

Dominic also looked at Triad of practice development (adapted from Penczak, 2013) which talks about Sales, Marketing and Fee-Earners being in opposing roles.

He also talked about Managing the Professional Service Firm (Maister, 1993) which has a hierarchy of roles with Finders at the top, Minders in the middle and Grinders at the bottom.

The presentation closed with questions.

Francesca Ayers, Get Serious