As a General Counsel, I’ve sat in some good, bad and painful sales pitches. Regardless, it’s never bothered me having salespeople reach out to me and try to win my company’s business. I’ve always seen it as an opportunity to meet and learn something new because as a General Counsel it’s great to be prepared and ready at any given time.
If you’re a lawyer reading this, on a scale of one to ten, how does being sold to, make you feel? One being highly uncomfortable and 10 being thrilled.
Do you enjoy working with salespeople in your organisation, if you’re in-house? Or is the department your “trouble child”? Yes or No?
In this fortnight’s edition of the Colin and Anna Show, hosted by Malbek, we discussed the complicated relationship between legal and sales, from both sides of the coin. That is, being sold to, as well as working with salespeople.
Before you get to the “I am only one sales deal away from having a contract meltdown” stage, here are some practical tips for lawyers arising from the Show:
Have empathy for the salespeople in your professional life. Understand what motivates them, how they are KPI’d and what pressures they are under. Sales is a skill, not an identity; the same goes for lawyering. Get to know the human behind the sales operative. What makes them tick, what excites them and what motivates them, beyond their KPIs. Sales feel less “hard” when there’s a relationship as a foundation, whether you’re the person chasing leads, or indeed working with a sales function.
Learn the ABCs of your sales colleagues’ jargon, as a connective tool. (For example, ABC in sales speak means Always Be Closing).
Try and secure a regular seat around the sales weekly update table, so you can access a live feed of what’s going on, what’s being worked on, which deals are high priority and why. That way, when a salesperson makes a challenging task, you’ll know the reason, and can focus on the solution. In addition, use your training and development budget to attend a sales conference to learn the tricks of the trade.
If you focus on how different two animals are, then that’s all you see. Try to find commonalities and ways to build bridges to work collaboratively to achieve win-win results. It is possible. Also, with selling comes rejection. Facing our fear of rejection is not only a good skill professionally but for life.
Managing expectations is integral to strong collaboration, including with the end customer, as is communicating updates and timelines to ensure each deal progresses as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Time is generally of the essence. As Napoleon Hill said, “a goal is a dream with a deadline”.
6. Freedom within a Frame
Salespeople want the latitude to negotiate and get deals done. Lawyers love governance. A happy medium is achievable in the form of a playbook. If your sales team are repeatedly doing the deals, there’s value in creating a framework within which they can have freedom, and when legal needs to get involved.
Selling is not a skill that we are taught in law school. It was great to hear some law schools are partnering up with their business schools to shift the needle here. The absence of it in our conditioning during our early practising years has it seem unfamiliar. Awkward and threatening for some. However, it’s also what makes the world go around. If you swapped the word “sell” for “influence” or “persuasion”, then for some lawyers that may have a different energy to it. Whatever works, I say!
In sum, sales isn’t a dirty word or undignified. It’s essential!
Authored by: Anna Lozynski
Global Legal Tech Advisor, Freelance General Counsel, Author and Professional Speaker & Co-founder of The Mindful Lawyers
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