Today is day two of the LMA here in Vegas and I attended a great panel with: 

  • Sheila Ardalan COO Summit Law Group
  • Jonathan Mattson Director Business Development BakerHostetler
  • David Burkhardt Chief Service Director Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton
  • Catherine Zinn Chief Client Officer Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe 

They were all discussing the word that is often only said in hushed tones at law firms - 'Sales'. 

Lawyers have a strange relationship with sales. They know they like the business that comes in because of it but in my experience lawyers are not too keen on selling. They need help and these guys help them.   It has not been a surprise to me that here in the US they are much more comfortable with sales than over the pond in UK law firms.

Here are some great quotes from them - my takeaways:

  • Jonathan summarised how he sees the relationship between marketing and sales - 'Marketing creates awareness. Sales creates relationships. The Marketing engine always needs to be running for sales to be successful'
  • Catherine summarised sales in law firms really well with this statement 'All we have is our reputation. Be high value.... always.'
  • There was a lot of talk about networking. It was stated that time, energy and thought must go into the right introduction.  Successfully introducing the right people (potential client and lawyer) is hard work and should be recognised as such. Sales people should be rewarded for the introduction as well as the closed sale.
  • I liked this quote on focus when it comes to networking 'one size fits one' so focus. Events can be colossal waste of money if you do not have focus. Be intentional about networking. Go with a plan. Target.
  • Then of course there was a lot of talk about focus on the client. Catherine mentioned that lawyers sometimes see themselves first, then their law firm, then the client firm and then last is client. This must be reversed - what the client wants is me (the client) first, my firm second, then your law firm and last you the lawyer. Catherine is Chief Client Officer - she wants her clients to know she is all about them.

Finally, the panel were asked what makes a successful sales person?

  • Jonathan stated that in prof services a successful sales person must get their energy by helping others succeed. In prof services sales people need to check their ego at the door. The lawyer will get the glory!
  • It was simple from Sheila - Focus on client. She is thinking of using Catherine’s job title (Chief Client Officer).
  • I loved Catherine's answer the most - Sales people need to be authentic, curious, have empathy and they absolutely must be scrappy (I'd call it graft).  True for all successful sales people whatever we are selling.