90 Minutes with Bill Flannery

Wouldn't you love to spend 90 minutes with Bill Flannery?

Bill is a legend in the legal sales and marketing field, having started as a salesman at IBM in 1969. He got a law degree in 1973, and 11 years ago founded the WJF Institute, his school for sales in Austin, Texas.

We got to hear Bill at yesterday's Legal Sales & Service Organization conference in Boston and it was a real treat. I've heard Bill's basic talk at least three times and I never get tired of it, because everything he says is so true.

*Professional firms must manage key accounts differently. These are the top 20-30 clients that generate 80% of a firm's revenue. They must be managed by a firm's VP of large accounts and get constant vigilance by senior management. The firm must work to create their loyalty and view the client as an asset of the firm - not of an individual partne.
*He tossed out at least one acronym: DSFEC, which means a "different strategy for every client." How you handle a client is Indonesia is very different from a client in Spain (think of Chevrolet, which sold its Nova car in Spanish-speaking countries, where the car name means "no go.") Every solution the firm offers must be scalable, so it works for a large client as well as a small client in a remote location.
*A firm must maintain client relationships with a team - partners and associates who have been trained together as a team. Each person must have a well-defined role. There should be a career path for every team member - if you manage a team well, you can be promoted to manage a branch office.
*The team must be visible to the client daily. The members should have voicemail and email accounts on the client's system, so they get all the client's internal messages.
*You should look for a client's latent needs. For every active file the firm has, there are 1,000 latent needs at the client, waiting to be worked on.
*The single most important item for a firm to measure is the firm's percentage of the client's budget. To determine this, a firm must know the client's total legal spending budget is. The percentage is calculated by comparing the toal budget to the amount of money the firm is getting from the company. Here's why it's important: a firm's billable hours may be going up and its revenue from the client may be going up, if the firm's percentage of the client's budget is going down - that's bad news.
*Your firm should issue "predatory RFPs," that is, issue proposals to a company to put a competing law firm's business into play. Firms should challenge the incumbent by offering more value.
* Firms need to spend more "face time" with clients. Instead, most pProfessional firms devote the most marketing resources on bar or CPA activities, P.R., written articles and speeches, brochures, newsletters, entertainment client seminars and branding. This is fine so long as there is a sales force to follow up.
*For each client, make a list of:

oWhom you don't know
oWhat you need to know
oWhat their unmet needs are
oThree success stories that can be used in proposals

Some memorable Flanneryisms:"Planning is a substitute for action."
"Strategy is for amateurs, every law firm has the same strategy. Tactics are for professionals."
"Don't add little clients. They take just as much time to acquire as big ones."

If you want to spend 90 minutes with Bill Flannery, join him and me on a live Web seminar broadcast on July 22. I will interview Bill in a program we call "Managing Your Firm's Strategic Business Development for Higher Profits." You can buy a single connection and invite your entire marketing, practice group and executive committee to attend. To find out more, just visit www.lawmarketing.com/index.html.


Six Sigma at Professional Firms

Tom McCarty gave a fascinating talk on how professional firms can build client relationships using the Six Sigma principles of corporate America. Why? Because Six Sigma is the language that clients are talking and they are attracted to professional firms that employ the program.

McCarty is Vice President of Motorola University Consulting Services in Schaumburg, Illinois. He's a Six Sigma "black belt" and spoke this morning at the Legal Sales and Service Organization conference here in Boston.

I was astonished to learn that several leading law firms are already using Six Sigma principles, which Motorola invented and GE made famous. The law firms are keeping it secret that they've adopted Six Sigma, because it's such a huge competitive advantage. Here's my educated expose as to the law firms that have done so:

Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy LLP
King & Spalding
LeBoeuf, Lamb
Gibson, Dunn
Shearman & Sterling
Weil, Gotshal
Baker & Hostetler
Irell & Manella
Jones Day
Morgan, Lewis
Armstrong Teasdale
Cantor Colburn
Fish & Neave
Goodwin Procter
Hunton & Williams

If I've wrongfully named your firm, I challenge you to tell me I'm incorrect.

Ideally, a professional firm will actually employ Six Sigma, which is an efficiency program designed to engage customers in a collaborative dialog, drive joint business improvement projects, and drive sustainable, strategic relationships with key clients. It's a major culture change for law firms.

But for those of you looking for a short cut, here's some Six Sigma lingo you can toss into a conversation:

*The Big Y: this refers to business results that matter, a company's prime goals.
*A company's "x's": these are the activities that will enable a company to achieve its goals.
*Green belt or black belt: levels of expertise at Six Sigma
*3.4 defects per million opportunities: this is the definition of Six Sigma
*DMAIC: for define opportunities, measure performance, analyze opportunity, improve performance, control performance
*Innovations workshop: gathering the senior partners of your firm in the same room with top executives at the client company, and getting the executives to "spill their guts" about the metrics that drive their business, what drives their customers, understanding the client's current processes and prioritizing potential improvements. The meeting takes about 3 hours.

Obviously, I'm cramming an entire process into one short post, but for more on Six Sigma, Read Tom McCarty's new book, The New Six Sigma


Getting into the Corporate Counsel Mind

The high point of today's LSSO conference was the general counsel panel. It included Patricia Gray of Arch Wireless, Gabriel Miller of Captivate Network, Christopher Mirabile of IONA Technologies and Aaron von Staats of PTC product development. Each company spends several million a year on outside legal fees.

Here are the practical points I picked up:

  • Law firms should find out how their legal fees will be accounted for by the corporation. If they will be capitalized, as opposed to recorded as an expense, there will be much less fee resistance. Miller said, "If we're doing a deal we can capitalize, we'll shove everything including legal fees into that budget." It's very important to know how the corporate budgeting works -- Mirabile said, "It makes a difference if the GC is budget holder, are there chargebacks in the company, is the legal budget a catchall budget that'll be taken away if not spent." The more a law firm knows, the easier the fees will be to swallow.
  • Medium-sized firms can get an edge over mega-law firms by offering lawyers who have cross-functional skills, that is, a litigator who knows bankruptcy as well as securities law. In the big firms, these two areas of law are compartmentalized. Gray said, "This is where a medium size firm can compete with the big firms, where the lawyers are not encouraged to develop cross-functional skills."
  • GCs will hire a new law firm only based on a recommendation of a GC colleague at another company. Mirabile said, "I would never hire a law firm without a recommendation." Accordingly, the best marketing money a law firm can spend it to develop a circle of GCs who will actively recommend the firm when their colleague call up. A referral from a GC is worth more than a million-dollar brochure. Miller said, "I don't think I've ever had a firm that I didn't have an introduction to, somebody else knew about them."
  • When dealing with big firms, GCs want to have a single, trusted lawyer they can call up to guide them to the right lawyer for their work. Having a "relationship partner" or point person -- even if they're not doing the work -- is what the GCs want to navigate through the titanic law firms.
    I only wish there had been more questions put to them that related to getting a sales call from a non-lawyer professional. With the advent of sales pros in law firms, I would have like to hear how the GCs would respond to a cold call from a law firm sales person.

  • Getting Clients to Drive Change in Your Firm

    allen_chichester105We had a fantastic PM Forum program last evening in Chicago on "How to Get Your Clients to Drive Change in Your Firm." We had marketers from the publishing, law, consulting, software, accounting and design industries at an elegant event -- featuring chocolate fondue! -- at Piper Rudnick. Two brilliant presenters showed how they brought the client/customer's voice into their work to change the direction of their firms.

    If you weren't at the meeting last night, you really missed something great.

    Allen Chichester played a riveting 12-minute video of focus groups of clients, complaining about poor service from lawyers. He played it at a partner meeting and stunned the crowd. He explained how he got the OK to film clients and described all the changes he accomplished from playing the video.

    Teresa Poggenphol, a partner and the director of global advertising for Accenture, showed how she researched customers while planning an ad campaign aimed at "High Performance Business." The research completely upended her initial hypotheses and changed the direction of the campaign. She described how Accenture rolled it out in October and kicked the butt of their main competitor, IBM consulting. You had to be there to get the details of how she did it.

    Look for David Alan Moore's report on the event on www.PMForumNA.org, and plan to attend future meetings.


    Accounting Marketing Tricks & Tactics

    aam_logoI'm attending the Association of Accounting Marketing conference in Las Vegas. It's refreshing to come to a marketing program and hear totally new speakers with ideas I haven't thought about before. It proves that we can learn more from marketers in accounting, consulting and other fields.
    There are 400+ attendees at the Venetian Hotel, a mammoth, ornate place that takes 15 minutes to walk through. The accounting marketers are facing exactly the same issues that law marketers are: the advent of sales, finding mentors, demonstrating ROI.

    I picked up several good ideas, which will soon be articles in Professional Marketing magazine:

    *Promote a niche practice by "productizing" it - marketing the service as if it were a product, complete with its own brand, a brand manager, a fixed price and a fixed offering. Consultant and CPA Gale Crosley of Atlanta will write about this; I had never met her before because she only works with accounting firms.
    *Hold "pipeline" meetings to smoke out efforts to land Large Opportunities. At the pipeline meeting, the partners disclose what pitches and RFPs they have "in their pipeline." The information is recorded into a spreadsheet. Then rather than having a single lawyer focusing on the RFP/pitch, a team of lawyers starts a "calling program" to investigate the prospect and meet contacts there. The proposal/pitch reflects the information gathered. Marketer Ilana Isakov of SS&G Financial Services in Cleveland agreed to write about this. Their firm has an incredible 82% win rate.

    Last night there was an awards ceremony, exactly like the LMA's Your Honor awards. There were 150 entries in 19 categories. Three large firms (over 75 professionals) cleaned up:

    1.Grant Thornton's Chicago office won 2 awards for their newsletters and niche building camping. In the latter, they pursued not-for-profit organizations by showing how Sarbanes Oxley applied to them. Their NFP Perspectives newsletter cost $8500 to distribute and brought in many new engagements.

    2.Blum Shapiro of West Hartford, CT, won 2 awards. One was for a direct mail campaign. They mailed 150 binoculars inside of boxes that said, "It's time to take a closer look at Blum Shapiro." The letter hit four points that distinguished the firm. Blum Shapiro identified targets using Dun & Bradstreet that had revenues of $30 to $250 million and more than 50 employees. The project cost $13,500 and brought in a $75,000 project.

    3.BKD CPAs and Advisors, a top 10 firm with $277 in annual revenues and 200 professionals, won for a direct mail campaign, a web site redesign and for event marketing. Their new web site at www.bkd.com is bright, tightly organized and focuses on industries served. It has content on the home page (which is good for attracting search engines), compies with we site usability principles (which visitors like) and is just chock full of content.

    It pays to get out of your own industry and see what marketers in other fields are doing.


    Feeling Smarter with Emotional Intelligence

    nickmarson135We each have an idea of what our I.Q. is. If you're in Mensa, you know your IQ precisely, proving that you're really smart. But being smart doesn't equal being a good rainmaker. I just attended a fascinating program in New York by Nick Marson and Jack Downton of London, about getting new business by increasing your E.Q. - emotional intelligence.

    The idea is to appeal to your client's hearts, not their minds. Nick and Jack are directors of Parallel Mind, a specialized coaching consulting firm in the U.K. Their clients include law megafirms Baker & McKenzie, Cleary Gottlieb, Eversheds and Clifford Chance, as well as J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and Ruder Finn.

    We can take advantage of the fact that people will make decisions based on emotion, and rationalize them later. Marson and Downton's thesis is, "People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel."

    Research shows that it is five times more important for professionals to have good people skills than technical skills, in terms of getting new business. To build rapport with clients - and get them to hire you - it is important to be in touch with your own emotions, and then to understand other's emotions so that you can build relationships. We must relate to clients as people first and clients second, according to Marson.

    They showed film clips of three world leaders with high emotional intelligence:

    *Bill Clinton listened intently when a person was asking him a question - you could see that he was paying attention - and then he would pause briefly before giving his response, showing he was thinking about his response. This visible response made people feel as if they were the only person in the room.
    *Nelson Mandela was speaking to a mammoth crowd in Wembly Stadium, and was greeted with thundering applause. He burst into a brimming, heartfelt smile. He revealed emotion that he had connected with the crowd. "Smiling is the most important thing you can do in business," Marson said. Smiling is disarming and engaging. It makes people feel good about you.
    *Martin Luther King in his "I have a Dream" speech spoke in a voice that was throbbing with passion. You didn't need to see him speak to be moved; hearing his voice was powerful enough. "People buy passion," Marson said. "You should be enthusiastic in what you do. Believe in yourself and people will buy you."

    There will be an article by Nick on emotional intelligence in the Summer issue of Professional Marketing magazine. Join now at www.PMForumNA.org to join and get your copy.