6.17.2005

Raindance Conference 2005:
Wish You Were There

If you were unable to attend the Legal Sales and Service Organization's (LSSO) second annual Raindance Conference focused on driving law firm revenue and building client loyalty, you missed a great event that shined a light on the shift in legal services as firms move from the old "club" model to a sales and service corporate model that more closely mirrors their clients. But fear not! LSSO Blog is here! Below are reports on many of the sessions by John O. Cunningham and Amy Campbell. And to find out which firms were in attendence, check out this entry on Larry Bodine's blog. It's the next best thing to being there (although being there is always better). See you next year?

Raindance Report:
Using Tech Tools To Drive Sales

More firms are achieving sales success through technological data mining, according to a panel of experts at the LSSO Raindance Conference.

In fact, Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing LLC noted that more than 25 percent of firms in one survey were now using data mining. She added that firms that used data mining in sales efforts were more than twice as likely to be successful in attracting new clients.

Lowe pointed to several examples of popular technologies in use, including: contacts databases, client relationship management software, financial analysis software, and human relationship databases (showing the connections between boards of directors, officers and other key personnel at various companies).

Steve Mauro of Thompson Hine LLP added that "support staff are a key part of sales in a true sales culture." He noted that several firm representatives in the room were engaged in sales or service initiatives, adding that firms are getting bolder in experimentation with a few even outsourcing their sales efforts.

Attorney Howard Shafer of Day Berry & Howard said that "the biggest opportunity from intelligence gathering is to change how partners sell." He asserted that partners getting support from financial data mining know better "who to call, what to say and how to follow up."

He added that lawyers should not drive the intelligence gathering efforts, but should rely on library, finance and marketing professionals who know best how to gather useful information quickly and effectively.

Learn more: For additional information on using technology tools to increase sales, see www.expertisemarketing.com. Also, check out some of the leading organizations selling technology tools for enhanced sales: www.capitaliq.com, and www.redwoodanalytics.com, and www.alm.com. To see a high-tech TrueView wrap-up of the Raindance Conference, go to www.legalinsight.com/lsso.html.

Raindance Report:
Wither Law Firm Web Sites?

With all the emphasis on personal selling, service excellence, relationships and intimacy, how can law firm web sites add value and not end up in the marketing graveyard next to those boxes of outdated, glossy firm brochures? By "demonstrating specific, recent, relevant experience — clients are demanding it," said HubbardOne's Chris Turk. See this post, Law firm web trends in a sales and service era, for a brief report.

Raindance Report:
Instituting Quality Initiatives

Both law firms and in-house law departments are rolling out quality initiatives to achieve specific measurable goals according to a panel of experts.

Connie Cook Laug, a quality specialist who has worked for Graydon Head & Ritchey and the Center for Quality Management, asserted that quality improvement teams need the direction and support of a Chief Quality Officer. She added that successful initiatives focus on just a few vital measurements. "Two goals are good, but five is too many," she said, warning that organizations can easily lose focus of multiple goals for change.

Adair Sisk, who has led the marketing efforts of King & Spalding for the past 15 years, has now shifted her focus to a service excellence initiative. She suggested that initiatives need a mission, a vision and specific service standards goals to be met, as well as internal training and performance reviews to insure success.
Sisk added that her firm's initiative has met little resistance. "Lawyers are actually grateful for having a service excellence initiative... as a differentiation from other firms," she said.

A corporate law department perspective was added by Jim Michalowicz of Tyco International, who explained how a quality initiative reduced litigation costs, case cycle times and total cases while supporting diversity goals of Tyco.

His department consolidated the outside work of 167 law firms into one dedicated provider completely familiar with Tyco and its typical litigation needs, achieving a measurable improvement in several areas including reduction in average settlement outcomes as a percentage of initial demands.

"The other benefit of using metrics is for marketing the law department's achievements to the board of directors," Michalowicz added.

Raindance Report:
Want More Business? Visit Clients On Site

My favorite take away from David Freeman's (business development coach of Whetstone Consulting) presentation, 5 Habits of Successful Business Development, was the phrase "the magic of being on site." We all know the importance of relationships and understanding the client's business — what better way to demonstrate that than visiting your client's business and walking through it? Said Freeman, "you'll walk away with more business."

His "5 habits" are:

1. Differentiation
2. Awareness
3. Meetings
4. Trust
5. Advances

The first two are usually well covered by law firm marketing and branding functions, but it's habits 3, 4 and 5 that start to apply the sales and service approaches to attorney bus. dev. practices. Here's my quick, sound-bite summary of these 3 habits...

Meetings: "Pick up the phone and get a meeting... visit on site... do a lunch-and-learn."

Trust: "Build relationships... become the trusted advisor... know the business, go to an industry conference with a client... join a client's strategic planning session" (off the clock). Act as concierge -- address your client's personal and professional needs. "How can you make your client look good? Find out how they are measured, how you can reduce their workload -- loan a GC a lawyer or a paralegal... help your client get business... help a client get on a board... get a client a better job..."

Advances: "Take an uncertain action and get a definite next step"... turn a nice conversation into a future meeting by asking for the advance.

Learn more: Access Whetstone Consulting articles here.

Raindance Report:
Using Competitive Insight To Drive Growth

Technology tools that can help lawyers expand their business are exploding in the marketplace. That is one of the points Doug Hoover of Thomson Find Law stressed to Raindance attendees.

He noted that 75 percent of firms conduct market intellgence surveys now, with 59 percent doing so every week.

Hoover pointed in particular to subscription services that can now search public records and tally the amount of litigation work your client has in total (jurisdiction by jurisdiction) as well as the percentage of suits in a given practice area or the number of suits against your client vs. other clients in the industry (a possible selling tool for preventive practice).

Linda Will, an information officer with Dorsey & Whitney, noted that intelligence gathering has quickly moved from print to online research to commercial filters and databases with content management capability.

She also noted that it is a good idea for client teams at major firms to have a library/information sciences person on the team because of the value they add to business development.

Cherie Olland, the Director of Business Development and Communications for legal giant Jones Day, spoke about the importance of doing business intelligence on potential merger targets and stressed the importance of doing project driven intelligence reports narrowed in focus by specific limited and narrow questions. "Sometimes knowing what you don't want is more important than knowing what you do," she asserted.

Learn more: For additional information gathering, Will suggested checking out information gathering and filtering services such as West Intra Clips and My Yahoo.

Raindance Report:
The Intimacy Of Business Relationships

Keith Ferrazzi of Ferrazzi Greenlight, author of "Never Eat Alone" and the soon to be released "The Power of Connection," told a packed ballroom that the best business relationships are personal.

The former CEO of a successful media company and the former CMO of Starwood Hotels asserted that "intimacy is at the core of any great business relationship" as he urged listeners to take more risks and reveal more of themselves to strengthen ties with clients.

"Intimacy reduces the length of the sales cycle and leads to trust," he asserted, adding that the role of legal counsel is conducive to expanding and strengthening relationships because it is inherently a role of trust and privilege.

Ferrazzi explained that an intimate relationship has three simple components: showing up, sharing passions and sharing dreams. "When you reach out to another person, they generally want to help you," he asserted.

He also advised audience members to have a plan to "surround yourself with the individuals necessary to achieve your goals."

Raindance Report:
The Essence Of Leadership

Both employers and employees are looking for more effective leaders - that is what executive coach and trainer Jeff Wolf told the Raindance attendees.

Wolf asserted that leaders with a demonstrated track record of effectiveness rank highest in integrity and communication skills. Those leaders also embrace change by being approachable with suggestions and by celebrating small steps forward when they "catch people doing something right." Wolf also noted that the best leaders "create a culture where all people are heard,... they lead with questions [and] have no fear of failure."

He cited studies showing that the behavior of the boss is the main reason people quit a job. "People don't leave companies, they leave bosses," Wolf asserted. He added that many modern leaders are disconnected with employees, thinking they most want high wages and security when surveys show they most want apprecation, input and training.

Learn more: For more on effective leadership, check out www.wolfmotivation.com.

6.16.2005

Raindance Report:
In Search Of Legal Excellence

Pushing the leading edge of the legal services industry closer to its clients, the Legal Sales and Service Organization announced at its annual Raindance Conference that it will institute a program for the recognition of excellence in client service delivery among law firms.

Law firms in three categories (under 50 lawyers, 51 to 150 lawyers, and over 150 lawyers) will be eligible to compete for awards given in memory of Thomas H. Lee, the late MIT professor who founded the Center For Quality Management.

Leonardo Inghilleri of West Paces Consulting, a former Ritz Carlton and Disney Co. executive, said that LSSO will utilize experienced and reputable quality management examiners to issue awards based on "blazing a path for continuous improvement and commitment to client service." He added that award winning firms "will have to demonstrate an ability to provide superior value and to be recognized as standard-setters for client service."

Several audience members asserted that firms will look forward to the competition and a chance to win a tangible recognition of their service excellence that can be used for marketing purposes similar to the Malcolm Baldridge Awards in business.

Learn More: For more on the Thomas H. Lee Award, stay tuned to www.legalsales.org.

Raindance Report:
The State Of The Legal Services Industry

Monica Bay of Law Firm, Inc., an experienced reporter who has written for Law Technology News and American Lawyer Media, sees the legal services industry rapidly shifting from "the private club model to a real business model."

More sophisticated and demanding clients are also making dents in the hourly approach to billing in favor of commodity fixed price billing and other alternative arrangements. That means more need for creative ways to maintain profitability.

"As firms are discovering that their work product is essentially words, some have started selling subscriptions to on-line content and self-help services, so that they can generate revenue 24-7," says Bay.

Her biggest pet peeve as a reporter? "Firms need to be more press savvy if they want coverage. They need a home office, and a press room section on their websites with contact information for the public," she advises.

Raindance Report:
Does Your Law Firm "Measure Up?"

John Martin of Chadwick Martin Bailey says that service firms have to establish metrics to align sales and service strategies with key client initiatives.
In a world of increasing commoditization of service firms, the challenge is to stand out as a superior service provider.

To succeed law firms need to define their brand with a specific distinguishable value. They also must perform client evaluations and establish internal metrics tied to rewards in order to insure that branding promises are delivered.

The proper alignment of a branding promise with actual service experiences will yield clients who are more than satisfied, loyal advocates for their law firm. But misalignment of promises and service experiences will result in brand death!

Good news for firms: studies show that only 30 percent of clients have a primary focus on budget and speed while 42 percent place priority on service that supports the direction of the corporate client. That means opportunity for profit with outstanding service.

Learn more: For more on metrics and service initiatives, see www.ChadwickMartinBailey.com.

6.14.2005

Raindance Report:
Survey Says: Women Attorneys Lack Biz Dev Support

Here's a couple interesting preliminary findings from LSSO's Survey of Sales and Business Development Issues for Women Lawyers presented at Raindance 2005. Gender disparities arising from respondents who have taken the survey so far are around the issue of access. Women feel they lack access to formal and informal support systems for business development, lack access to mentors for business development, and lack exposure to clients and client development activities through their firms.

Another interesting finding: the 9-hour divining time. It appears that 9 hours is the magic number for business development success. Women who spend less than 9 hours a month on business development activities were less successful than women who spent more the 9 hours (9 to 15) a month.

Learn more: The Survey of Sales and Business Development Issues for Women Lawyers is open through October of 2005. Women attorneys can take the 24-question survey online. Participants will receive a copy of the results.

Raindance Report:
What Law Firms Can Learn from 5-star Hotels

What relevant business lessons could a law firm learn from the likes of the Ritz-Carlton? Plenty if you're Leonardo Inghilleri of West Paces Consulting, an expert in service excellence with a background in the hospitality industry. Inghilleri's stripped-down view of business reduces it to its essentials — 4 common objectives that all businesses share:
- 100% client retention (goal)
- get more clients
- get more money from current clients
- improve efficiencies

His presentation was a convincing argument that service excellence is the way to differentiate a firm and achieve the above objectives. Assuming that the quality of legal advice and talent is basically equal across all top-tier firms, he asked, "How do you build a value proposition without falling into the trap of falling rates?" His answer: client service.

Under this assumption, the non-attorney service portion of the firm becomes essential in building the value proposition of service, but it is attorneys who are utlimately responsible for delivering client service. Improving attorney client service skills then becomes key to success. It's an HR thing. Having a basic business model in place where the values and beliefs are known and communicated to all employees and which drive all processes is also required. Practices common in hospitality industry, such as orienting new hires on their first day of employment in order to "imprint" the organization's values and beliefs on employees is the type of practices that can well serve law firms.

Achieving a service excellence culture is difficult and takes a lot of hard work and focus. Said Inghilleri, You can choose to be among the best, or you can be like everyone else."

Learn more: For more on Inghilleri and the service approach to legal services, see Building a Client-focused Law Firm on the Law Marketing Portal. Listen: Audio interview