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.

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