Is this the biggest challenge faced by law firms today?

Obvious? Maybe but sometimes the obvious isn't so, well, obvious.

New entrants to the legal services market; a weakening economy; business savvy clients; a rise in internal legal departments; alternative fee arrangements; commoditisation – the list of challenges facing the legal world seems to be swelling by the day with some being more of a threat than others.

However, is there an even greater challenge lurking in the shadows that has been embedded in law firms for decades? I think there just might be……

Whilst there is no silver bullet available that will cure all ills there is one thing for certain: any firm with an effective sales function capable of  generating a strong thread of new leads and of taking good care of established clients eases most of the challenges you’re likely to face.

So there it is; your knight in shining armour: sales or the ability to identify, engage, convert and cultivate clients in a systematic and organised way to maximise revenues and minimise loss to the competition, as we like to call it at Flair Towers.

And that, in my humble opinion, is the greatest challenge facing law firms today: most of the people entrusted with building and maintaining secure revenue streams are at best reluctant sales people and at worst are actively hostile towards the concept. What other business would have a sales force who would prefer to be doing something else?

It’s understandable I suppose. At some point in their lives each of them made the decision to become a lawyer: a corporate BSD; a champion of the under-classes or just somebody who was bought off by copious amounts of cheap lager at one of those university open nights. Who knows why but there is one for thing for damn sure: they never dreamed of being a hot-shot sales person.

So what can be done? Well its quite a difficult nut to crack and well beyond the scope of this humble blog post but I would suggest three clear lines of thought: –

  1. Acknowledge not everybody is capable of being a heavy-weight sales person. Work to people’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses rather than force them to “get out there and network, damn it”.
  2. Be more structured. Build a system for sales with recognisable stages, established tools and techniques and a decent CRM system to house it all.
  3. Put somebody in charge of sales who is a sales person not just a marketer. Marketing definitely has a place in the business development orchestra but as a service to the sales function not as the driving force.

Build a systematic, organised and very controlled growth engine and put somebody in charge of it who has proven sales experience is  one approach to overcoming the oldest and perhaps the biggest challenge faced by law firms today. What do you think?

Oh, and one more thing – isn’t it about time you downloaded the free sample chapter of my e-book? Look over there for more details ====>

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Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Posted in Business Development, Lawyers, Sales, Uncategorized
4 comments on “Is this the biggest challenge faced by law firms today?
  1. John Halton says:

    Great stuff. I think the biggest challenge new entrants will present is that they will be managed by people who want to manage, and have sales forces who want to sell, and lawyers who want to provide legal services. After all, it’s a good 250 years since Adam Smith came up with the idea of the division of labour – maybe it’s about time the legal profession gave it a whirl.

    Another, related, advantage for new entrants is that they will not have the institutionalised superiority complex that Louise Restell describes in this post. They won’t call the non-legal professionals who work for them “support staff” or treat them as second-class citizens or simply a cost-centre.

    In short, I think the legal profession is about to have a major shock to the system.

  2. Mike Ames says:

    I agree John and thanks for the link through – your’e right it is worth a read.

  3. One of my favourite past times a few years ago was to sit at the window of my flat and watch the Solicitor’s across the road working in their dusty, paper filled office with one computer ‘terminal’ sat silently in the corner. The poor lamented machine was very rarely touched and on the odd occasions where it was prodded into life, it got no more than the slow ponderous stabbings of two rigid index fingers.

    While this was no doubt an extreme example, it highlights to me the dangers that a profession so steeped in tradition is going to face in the next ten years. While the cliché about technology changing quickly irritates me no end when people use it to champion clever systems above sensible processes, it is still true that technology used well will make you more efficient, quicker to respond, and (contrary to popular opinion) a more personable company. As this paper suggests (—competing-with-new-entrants.pdf) “The idea that technology will de-personalise the service is at best a myth and in many instances just an excuse to do nothing.”

    Sorry about the slightly impartial link, but it happens to strike something close to my heart. The world has changed so much with the advent of computers, mobile phones, the internet etc, and we are still learning just how much power these tools are giving us. To deny their existence and leave your old ‘terminal’ to rust in the corner of your office is not just crazy, it’s suicide.

    Of course, I have to agree that without the right personnel in the right positions, a computer system is useless.

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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