Top qualities that make a solicitor a good salesperson
Networking events, seminars, and hosting prospects are all opportunities to sell yourself and your firm. However, many solicitors shy away from or are â€˜too busy' to regularly and consistently treat sales opportunities as a priority, writes Mark Platt
Have you ever noticed someone's face light up when they're talking about something that they're passionate about? It could be the latest supercar, getting a personal best at a sporting event, or just being proud of something their child has achieved.
Now, think about when you've seen that same spark when a solicitor talks about something in a professional situation. It doesn't happen very often, does it?
Of course, this isn't to say that solicitors up and down the country should be pumping the air with their fists every time they win a case, or high fiving their client when they finish drafting a will. It's not the 'done thing' for a reason '“ it's just not professional.
However, every solicitor knows that to keep the work coming in they either need to have a fantastic following, a well-established client base, or someone who consistently feeds them work. Solicitors can't just rely on their law firm's marketing methods to get them the work they need. This means that lots of solicitors need to network, carry out their own marketing, or simply sell their services, for themselves.
This is where enthusiasm and passion about their profession comes in. Yes, professionalism needs to be maintained at every point of any conversation, meeting, or event. However, how a person says things and what their face conveys, is really important in sales. A solicitor's main selling tool is being able to look, sound, and actually be passionate about the legal service they offer.
I would be surprised if there is a solicitor working within any specialism, who can say they don't experience pressure. Clients are understandably demanding much of the time '“ they're often paying a large sum of money for something they need, but don't necessarily want. There's also pressure from senior management over billing targets.
However, when it comes to getting new clients in, there can be pressure just to make time to speak to them over the phone. Then there's following up on the price quoted or arranging a time for them to come in, which fits with the solicitor's already busy calendar.
Letting one lead slip here and there won't have too much impact, but consistently not replying to website enquiries or insisting a prospect leaves a voicemail rather than give them some information over the phone, can mean that word spreads of how unhelpful a solicitor is. It also dramatically slows down the entire sales process, which means they're more likely to go with a competitor who has been able to move their enquiry along more quickly and smoothly.
Many tasks that solicitors carry out can be complex, contentious, and despite how well executed, sometimes thankless. So surely, when a solicitor meets someone at a networking event, who later refers a fantastic new client to the business, the least they should anticipate is a pat on the back, right?
Unfortunately, this isn't the case for a lot of law firms. Business development is seen as part of most solicitors' jobs and contributing to the success of the firm is seen as something that they should innately want to do, with or without recognition. Not receiving recognition can put many off making the effort in future, but a good sales person will strive on regardless; knowing they are either helping themselves in the short term or developing skills that will be valuable in the future.
Having off days
To be successful as a solicitor, you need to keep your name out there in the local community '“ public or business depending on your specialism '“ despite being swamped with work, stressed with problems, or even just wanting to get home on time. Solicitors who consistently immerse themselves into selling opportunities on a regular basis, are those that are far more likely to succeed and have a comfortable level of work in the long term.
Becoming a good salesperson
If you've recognised that some of the areas mentioned above would be barriers to you being good at sales, this doesn't necessarily mean that you're a bad salesperson. Everything above can be taught, practised, and improved upon, with the right training and guidance. Sales might seem stressful and scary to some, but these people can often become fantastic, self-aware salespeople, who actually love the world of sales '“ once they've gotten to grips with working within it.
Mark Platt is the founder of Incite Consulting, which specialises in sales training and management for professional services firms