During October 2015, for the first time, a legal marketing seminar hosting a foreign expert took place in Israel. A specialist in business-development for Legal and other professional services firms for over 20 years, Paul Matthews, from The PACE Partners came to share his firm’s global experience and approaches with us.
The event was planned and executed by Robus Legal Marketing the PSMG Israeli affiliate. Attorneys and accountants, both from Israel and abroad attended. Managing partners, senior partners and other fee earners from both large firms to the smaller, boutique, independent ones, as well as most of the legal marketing community in Israel gathered at the ZOA convention centre.
The audience, that totalled over 180 attendees had two main goals: first, acquiring tools and techniques to improve their business development approach to both attract new clients and protect and develop their existing ones and second to network with other like minded professionals.
After the opening speech by Adv. Zohar Fisher (founder of Robus Legal Marketing), the hall was ready for Paul and his interactive seminar on Growing Your Firm. He split the morning into two sessions one on Winning New Clients and the second on Managing, Protecting and Developing Existing Clients.
Both were incredibly practical, highly focused on legal and professional services firms and full of real life application by PACE where they’ve helped their clients achieve real accelerated profitable growth. Some of the key points from both seminars are captured below.
Winning New Clients
Paul began this session with discussing three strategies professional services firms commonly adopt but should AVOID when approaching business development. These are: Row-boat management, The Scattergun approach and The S.A.W. strategy.
Row-boat management is where a firm only looks back at past results, comparing this month to the same month the previous year, or the accumulated total income against budget. This is important to do but if this is the only thing the firm is doing they are continually looking backward at results that have already occurred and not at what needs to be done to achieve the future growth of the firm.
The Scattergun Approach is also common, which is where a firm goes for anything and everything. Obviously this is not a correct approach as it means precious time and resource is being wasted on non-ideal prospects and the great targets that you really want to win are deprived of real focus as the efforts are being spread to thinly.
The S.A.W. Strategy the final approach to avoid is also far too common. Paul described here how so many fee earners think that business development is not something they can do themselves or is the role of either a select few or the marketing and business development team. S.A.W. standing for “Sit And Wait”, literally leaving business development to others or hoping the phone will ring.
Many, in fact, most of the firms in the audience suffered from one or more of these common approaches. Paul went on to show how PACE help their clients avoid this and introduced a structured, planned and effective approach to business development – The PACE Pipeline (see diagram 1). The PACE pipeline breaks the business development process into each of the key stages, ensures a team approach, provides focus for firms and individuals and helps them to plan their activity to generate the best return from their actions. It provides transparency and generates a continual flow of business from both new and existing clients. Ultimately helping a firm achieve their growth target and create their ideal client base.
The PACE Pipeline™
Paul talked the audience through the different parts of the pipeline:
Prospecting – how to ensure the team are focusing their limited time, effort and resource on the clients they want to win and are likely to win using vital selection criteria known as triggers and filters.
Promoting – is all about planning and implementing two key things. The first is how to build a brand and reputation in your marketplace and become famous for your services within your chosen sector. The second is how to motivate clients to want to meet with you, how to open doors and how to generate meetings with your targeted ideal prospects. Many fee earners have target lists but don’t feel comfortable or understand how to approach clients or how to generate meetings. Paul shared what marketing activity works and which ones are a complete waste of time and money and how to avoid cold calling. Sharing with your fee earners approaches that they are comfortable with, that the prospect clients are comfortable with and that work is key.
Projecting – focuses on the next part of the process which is when we have met the prospect client and includes all of the key elements involved in converting them into a client. Building a relationship and trust, fully understanding them, identifying opportunities, understanding the decision making process and presenting ideas and solutions in an effective manner to name but a few. Here it is key that your fee earners have the key skills and confidence in professionally and consultatively selling.
Protecting – even though this is the fourth segment of The PACE pipeline, Paul suggested this is often a sensible starting point for business development and the subject of our second session. Key to success here is the ability to manage, protect and develop your existing clients and PACE break down every aspect of how to do this with your clients.
Pruning – sometimes firms suffer from “problem children clients”, clients that are not profitable, poor payers or for whatever reason, do not fit the firm’s ideal client base. Here there are a number of actions people can take to either turn these into valued clients or prune them from their client base. Either way continuing to work with them in the same manner and implementing no corrective action will mean these clients continue to drain energy and focus from your other key clients or winning ideal clients for the future.
Managing Key Clients
After a short break Paul’s second session involved him introducing a structured framework and approach to managing, protecting and developing your existing clients (see diagram 2).
PACE Key Client Management Model™
This framework covers all the essential elements a firm could or should be doing in order to grow their business through their existing clients.
Paul used his years of experience in helping clients by sharing some of the essential steps in the process and provided practical tools for implementing key client management with your firm.
If you are planning to introduce and implement key client management within your firm some of those essential steps and key ingredients are:
- Segmenting your client base and identifying who your key clients are
- Identifying and agreeing a client team leader for each of the selected key clients and knowing what characteristics and values they should have
- Creating a core client team and an extended team for each of the clients made up of the right mix of representatives from relevant divisions and jurisdictions across the firm
- Spending time in truly understanding your client and building trust and relationships
- Delighting clients at every point of contact
- Gaining and receiving client feedback and sharing and actioning it
- Protecting your client, avoiding “bow-tie” relationships which rely on just one fee earner and one point of contact and how to broaden, deepen and strengthening your relationships
- Knowing how to introduce new services to your client and overcome barriers to cross-selling
- Having a vision for where you want to be with your client and how you want them to perceive you
- Creating effective key client plans
- Being able to work as a client team
- Knowing how to keep key client management alive and how to embed it into your firm’s culture
What Paul shared opened the eyes of the audience to where most of the firms are now and where they need to get to if we want to be truly effective in best practice business development and key client management. Most, if not all, the firms attending are already successful in their own right but just think where they could be and the growth they could achieve through applying just some of PACE’s thinking and their approach.
In summary it was an incredibly successful event, everyone had a great opportunity to network, learnt a lot and went away with plenty of food for thought and practical actions to put into place. It was, as mentioned, a first of its kind in Israel. Finally a huge thank you to Rebus Legal Marketing for hosting and organising, PSMG for coordinating, Paul Matthews and PACE for presenting and of course all those people for attending.