I usually don’t copy and paste blog posts in to my own but Cordell Parvin, a Coach specifically for Lawyers, touched on a question that gets asked over and over. You can find his original post here.
Business professionals work very hard to arrange meetings with potential clients; however, once they are in the meeting, how do they “ask for the sale?”. When is the right time? Do you even discuss business? This skill seems to come so naturally to some but others have to work a little harder to create an easy going atmosphere of trust and reliance.
A young lawyer approached Cordell and asked:
“I have a casual meeting with two law school classmates who are now counsel at two corporations. How should I approach such a meeting? I want them to know I want their business but I also do not want them to feel that I am meeting with them just for their business?”
Instead of answering the question himself Cordell asked three lawyers and here are the answers:
I’ve been told that one of the best ways to keep potential clients thinking about you is to take them out for a drink every couple of months. Casual conversation in that type of setting — after-hours, no pressing issues to deal with, and just talking about work in general — is a great pressure-free way to let the classmate know what kind of work you are doing and allows you to find out more about what that classmate and his/her corporation has going on. Keeping in touch this way lets that person know you care enough to take time outside of working hours to get together, and keeps you on their mind when they face a situation where they need outside counsel.
Talk to them about everything but work…sports, families, travel etc. Let them bring up work. They inevitably will without you asking and that’s when you sit there and learn as much as you can about what they’re doing. Keep it social, get them to like you and they will want to do business with you because you’re not the annoying guy bugging them for work. Travis and I just did this last week at lunch. It worked great, and we’re taking the same guys to the Astros game on Tuesday.
About two hours ago, I had one of those ah ha experiences. I have always heard that staying in touch with client was very important (Cordell talks about this in Chapter 11 of Prepare to Win), but I now understand what that means.
I have a company in Dallas that I do work for. I typically deal with the CFO. I was driving to meet another client today and had a thought to call the President of the Dallas company just to see how things were going. When he took my call he asked “what’s wrong now?” I told him that nothing was wrong, that I didn’t need anything, I just wanted to call and see how things were going for him. His exact words were “you’re sh______ me, right”. I again explained that I was just checking in with him. Once he was over his initial shock, we had about a 30 minute conversation about the business, our kids, and golf. Turns out he is going to be in Houston next week on vacation and we are going to play golf.
After the call I started thinking back and realized that I typically only talk to this guy when there is a problem. But as a result of that one phone call, we are now connecting on a more personal level and I will be getting some of his vacation time.
I am not sure if this helps anyone else, but I will now be setting up a system to insure regular contacts with all of my clients.
Building a relationship with your potential client takes time. It takes getting to know that person and truly wanting a genuine relationship. If this is your intention it will shine through and it will naturally grow in to a business connection.