The only thing standing between you and your ideal prospect is the lawyer currently doing the work. Many of the new engagements that you pursue are matters that an incumbent provider is presently handling. Here's something you need to know about getting those matters: No one considers a change in outside counsel until they first question the value they are getting from their current provider.
The problem is, it's tough to overtly question another lawyer's quality of work or service delivery. And, most prospects won't divulge the intimate details of long-standing relationships anyhow, especially not if asked directly by an obvious suitor for that work.
Business people have a strong bias for the status quo. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," they say. But good rainmakers turn that around to ask, 'if it were to break, how would you know it was broke?' The key to unseating your competition is to get prospects to think critically about whether they are getting the best from their providers? You can start that process with a straightforward question:
How would you know if it were time to reconsider how these matters are currently being handled?
I call this a 'power question' because it helps the prospect recognize the possibility that a change could be in order. It forces their minds to inventory the sometimes unrecognized or ignored issues they may need to address. In the discussion that follows, you can help the prospect work sequentially through each aspect of the matters' handling, the results they are getting, and the process they follow.
Asking them 'how will they know' puts them in a more critical frame of mind. Asking them what would 'trigger a reconsideration' helps them identify specific things that could be a catalyst for change. Suggesting that they think about 'how things are currently handled' makes it clear their focus is on their current experience with the incumbent provider.
Assume the role of a business coach in this discussion. Be someone committed to facilitating their objective examination of how well things are working. You can learn more with a coaching frame of mind than you can with a seller's mindset. Done well, you will get insights into your prospect's priorities, operational challenges, and what they value.
The 'how would you know' question forces them to evaluate their 'status quo.' And that's what you need them to do before they can even consider hiring you.
About the Author
The former chief marketing officer of several large law firms, Eric Dewey is a business development coach for lawyers who has been helping lawyers and other professional service providers win new business for more than 25 years. His approach is practical, client-centric and practice-specific, using tools and techniques developed over years of coaching lawyers from every imaginable practice area through a host of challenging situations.
The above has been excerpted from my book, Power Grids. How Successful Lawyers Build Powerful Networks of Connections That Drive Reputations, Relationships, Referrals, and Revenues. It is available on Amazon.
Eric can be reached by email at Eric@eLegalTraining.com.