The Most Dangerous Letters in Sales are RFP

Steve_waterhouse135RFP means one of two things. It's either 'Real Fools Participate' or 'Request For Probing,' according to Steve Waterhouse,  the Principal and Founder of Waterhouse Group, a sales consulting and training company.
Real Fools are the ones that read the document and believe every word, he says. It wil state, "All questions must be in writing" and "Contact with the company must be through the purchasing office." If you play this game, you are falling into the trap of thinking that this makes a level playing field for all bidders.

The probability of winning business from responding to an RPF where you have no relationship with the client is so close to zero as to not be worth discussing. Unfortunately, everyone has won one or two and believes that they are the exception, Waterhouse says. Studies done by the Waterhouse Group and others show otherwise.
He advises:

  • Refuse to look at an RFP as an immediate need to begin preparing a proposal. It's not. In fact, in most cases, you would be better off making another cold call than responding to the RFP's terms.
  • Redefine the RFP as a Request For Probe. That means, the prospect has sent up a signal flare that identifies a source of potential business. Treat it like any other hot lead.
  • Assuming that the business outlined in the RFP is business you want or that it could lead to business you want, start digging.

For the rest of the story, visit the LawMarketing Portal.


ABA Lawyers Behind the Times

Computers Only 9% of ABA members are aware of someone in their firm maintaining a weblog, or blog, while over half (55%) said no one in their firm was maintaining a weblog and 36% did not know.  These statistics from the 2006 American Bar Association legal Technology Resource Center Survey Report show that ABA lawyers are stuck in the last century when it comes on online marketing.
It's a sad state of affairs.  Many of today's smart lawyers are actively blogging. According to there are 1,391 lawyer blogs in 214 categories.  According to an article by Jim Calloway and Tom Mighell in the ABA's own Law Practice Today e-newsletter, a new blog is created every second of the day. 8,000,000 people have started blogs as 32,000,000 Americans are blog readers.  But apparently few ABA lawyers are doing either.
"As in previous surveys, e-Lawyering initiatives still are not taking off; self-help legal guides (12%) are the only online legal service offered on more than 10% of respondents' firms' websites, while other services, such as client intake questionnaires (just shy of 10%), real-time consultations with prospective clients (2%), online form preparation (5%), online dispute resolution (less than 1%), expert systems (1 %), showed no significant gains over previous years," the report states on page 13.
Respondents to the 2006 survey represent a wide cross section of firm sizes:
  • Twenty two percent of respondents are solo practitioners
  • 27% work in small firms (2-9 attorneys)
  • 20% are in firms with 10 to 49 attorneys
  • 7% are in firms with 50 to 99 attorneys
  • 23% are in large firms (100 or more attorneys).

This year more large firms and fewer firms with 2 to 9 attorneys are represented than in the 2004-2005 survey, by about 5% each.

If you're not familiar with blogs and online marketing, please join the ABA Law Practice Management Section, and start reading their publications and start attending their meetings. 


Effective Marketing: Put a Client in the Ad

Scan0008_1 Once again Holland and Hart of Denver shows its marketing savvy by putting an ad in the September 2006 issue of Corporate Counsel magazine that features a client in the ad.  (Click on the image to the right to see it full-size.)

It's smart marketing  because:

  • The ad is all about the client, not the firm.
  • It depicts David Jacobs, founder and CEO of Spyder Active Sports, Inc., a Holland and Hart client that makes cool sportswear, which incorporates Bluetooth technology to use with an iPod or cell phone and high-tech shock-absorbing material.
  • The scene is clearly in the Colorado mountains, underscoring the firm's tag line "The Law Out West."
  • The ad lists the name of a person to call as well as the firm web site.
  • It positions the law firm with the innovativeness of its client.

Kudos, again, to "Marketing Guy" Mark Beese at Holland & Hart.

Audio Testimonials from Summer Associates

Beneschbeat Nothing beats a testimonial in marketing.  To entice the iPod generation,  Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP in Cleveland and Columbus is making a novel use of a podcast for recruiting.  Summer associates Rebecca from Ohio, Calista from Cleveland, Angela from California and Christian from Buffalo can be heard talking about their experience working at the firm.

The audio MP3 recording "Summer Associates Speak Out! featuring Benesch's 2006 Summer Associates" is the August 17 edition of "The Benesch Beat," a series of business law podcasts on the firm's Web site at The podcast directory is located at

Rebecca says she likes trademark law and litigation, saying, "It was a challenge to get an assignment and not know anything about it." Calista learned about corporate and transactional work, noting, "some law firms are all about wining and dining.  I wanted to grow as a young professional and that's what Benesch has to offer."

Angela said, "What's really nice about working at Benesch is that you get to apply the things you learned in law school.  It's not all theoretical, you actually see clients and issues, and how they work."

Christian discovered he likes suing people.  "I like litigation, the adversarial part.  I like to be persuasive as opposed to objective, and let someone else decide who's right or wrong."  This kid will go far in the profession.


Calculating ROI on Partner Business Development Time

Partners are expected to generate new business, but they don't have the time or desire to bring in new files.  It's essential that the time actually spent on business development shows a worthy return-on-investment.  The July issue of Inside Public Accounting published a handy formula to determine if a business development initiative is really paying for itself:

Returnoninvestment Use average partner income plus a factor for partner expenses on the financial statement.  Take that cost times the number of hours you spend with growth activities. Compute a 20% return on that investment and then consider the margin on the average dollar of revenue the firm produces to determine the revenue that must be generated from the time investment in business development activities.

Here's an example:

* 300 hours per year on growth @ $150/hour
* Cost per partner = $45,000
* 20% ROI on partner time = $54,000 ($45K + 20% of $45,000)
* Revenue at 30% margin = $180,000

In law firms, partners may bill much more than $150 per hour, and a law firm's margin is typically 40%.  However, typical lawyers spend much less than 300 hours per year on business development.

What should we do with this information? This scenario demonstrates how important it is to focus on the right activities. Once a partner sees the need to bring in $180,000 in sales this year, he or she will likely concentrate on activities that produce results. After thinking of ROI on business development in this way, partners should ask themselves:

* Am I spending too much time but not getting the results? If so, maybe I need training
* Am I positioned with the right centers of influence to attract this much annual volume?
* How am I going to accomplish this goal? Should I spend all of my time promoting one-time project work, such as single transactions or litigation, instead of pursuing clients who will pay $25,000 per year for an average of 10 years?


Women of Color Used as Tokens in Marketing

Arin_reeves The new ABA report, Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms, published by the ABA Commission on Women in the Legal Profession, describes the grim lot of female minorities in law firms, who are hit with a "double whammy of gender and race."

"The combination of being a racial and a gender minority has a particularly devastating effect on women of color's personal and professional lives," write Paulette Brown and Arin Reeves, Project Co-Chairs.

"Forty-three percent of women of color but only 3% of white men had limited access to client development opportunities. Women of color stated that they met with clients only when their race or gender would be advantageous to the firm; they frequently were not given a substantive role in those meetings. This kept them from developing business contacts that they could use to develop a book of clients or as resources for finding subsequent positions."

Here's the bad news:

  • Almost half of the associates in private law firms are now women and 15% are attorneys of color, but in 2004 only 17% of law partners were women and only 4% were attorneys of color.
  • As of 2005, 81% of minority female associates had left their law firms within five years of being hired.
  • It's been this way for 134 years: In 1872, Charlotte E. Ray became the first African-American woman admitted to the bar in the United States. Despite her renowned legal abilities, she had to give up the practice of law because, as a woman of color, she could not attract sufficient clients to stay in business.

For more information, see


Generation Gap Hurts Law Firm Marketing

Associates_graph Not only are lawyers typically reluctant to market their practices, now we learn that many associates aren't even interested in becoming a partner or staying in the profession.  It's impossible to market a service that you don't want to perform.

69% of associates don't see themselves making partner, according to the August 2006 issue of American Lawyer.  Even worse, about 55% aren't sure they'll stay in law practice.  No wonder these young lawyers aren't interested in marketing.

That's because Generation X, associates aged 27 to 41, are loners who question authority, can be cynical, pessimistic, think in short time horizons and have a "prove it to me" attitude, according to author and consultant Cam Marston, of Marston Communications in Charlotte, N.C.   

Add Generation Y to the mix, aged 26 or younger, who are "adultolescent" individuals who have never known hardship, yet stressed, at a young age, and may have huge goals but are clueless on execution.

They don't want to be like the people who are in charge of the firm, the Baby Boomers who have a strong work ethic, are competitive, optimistic and show success visibly with trophies and plaques.

Baby Boomers are "frustrated by the younger generation's seeming reluctance to step up to the plate and take on the same responsibilities that Boomers themselves eagerly took on at their age," Marston said.  And this includes marketing.

Why Law Firms Should Check Their Web Site Statistics

Empty_1Many law firm Web sites are a billboard out in a cornfield -- hastily built with almost no one looking at it.  To the unhappy surprise of a law firm my firm is advising, only a smattering of visitors were going to their very expensive, Flash-adorned Web site.  They didn't even know it.

It turned out that no one was checking the traffic statistics to the site. At first, they weren't even sure whom to ask to find out. Later, I read through the traffic logs and found that fewer than 1,000 visitors per week went to the site, which is very low for a law firm Web site. The partner I reported this to was very sad.

To make it worse, I reported that 80% of their visits came from lawyers and other employees from inside the law firm.  So only 200 people per week from outside the firm were visiting the site.  Now the partner was really sad.

I could immediately tell what the problems were:

  • The Flash graphic on the home page was causing the bots and spiders sent out be search engines to bounce off.  Search engines index text, not graphics.  We're going to make that a static, non-animated graphic.
  • The site had no <title> or <meta> tags.  There was no bait to attract the search engines.
  • There was no text on the home page.  This meant that there was indeed nothing for the search engines to index.

Fortunately, these are all easy things to fix.  My point is that you must know the basics about your Web site.  You wouldn't drive your car without checking the gas and looking at the speedometer.  Similarly, you shouldn't put a Web site online without checking the traffic statistics.


The One Piece Of Advice You Can't Sell Without

The_one_piece_of_advice_you_cant_sell_wi just published a collaborative e-book, The One Piece Of Advice You Can't Sell Without. The book is a compilation of the advices of 11 experts (including me) in selling professional services.  To get your free PDF copy of the ebook, visit

The experts are:

  • Seth Godin, best-selling author of 7 books including Purple Cow and Permission Marketing.

  • Keith Ferrazzi, speaker and author of Never Eat Alone, and a columnist for Inc. Magazine and Fast Company
  • Sam Reese, CEO of Miller-Heiman, The Sales Performance Company

  • Alan Weiss, CEO of Summit Consulting Group and author of Million Dollar Consulting

  • Mike Schultz, Publisher of and Principal, Wellesley Hills Group

  • Paul Dunay, Director of Global Field Marketing for BearingPoint

  • Jill Konrath, Chief Sales Officer, Leapfrog Strategies and author of Selling to Big Companies

  • Frank Stasiowski, President of PSMJ Resources, serving the architecture / engineering industries

  • Paige Arnof-Fenn, CEO of Mavens & Moguls and a columnist for Entrepreneur

  • Michael W. McLaughlin, co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants with Jay Conrad Levinson and editor of Management Consulting News.
  • Li'l old me, Larry Bodine, Owner-Operator of the LawMarketing Portal and Larry Bodine Marketing, serving law firms.

I think you'll enjoy my chapter, "Listening Your Way to New Business."  I probably shouldn't have revealed so much about these successful selling techniques, because it's the actual advice I give to my own clients.  But they are merely the lessons I have absorbed over 15 years of selling and marketing, learned from people who were way smarter than me.  Here's how it starts:

    According to a German proverb, "A man has two ears and one mouth so that he hears much and speaks little."  Mark Twain followed up the thought by saying, "If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear." And I'll add: We were given two ears and one mouth, and they should be used in that proportion in a sales call.

    To get your free PDF copy where you can download the ebook for free, visit


    Why Lawyers Should Visit their Clients

    Our firm advises a lot of law firms on business development.  One point we always make is: visit your clients.

    One law partner we are advising found out the hard way what happens when you don't.  His No. 1 client had been sending him hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal work.  Then his sole contact left the company.  Afterwards, his work was cut by more than half.  This was a brutal financial blow to absorb.

    We recommended that he climb onto a plane, visit the client at their offices 530 miles away, spend several days there, and get to know all the executives and in-house lawyers.  In making the arrangements he discovered that the individual who slashed his work had left the company.  This is good news.  He's in a position to recoup the loss.

    He also has another client -- a real estate investment firm that owns more than $100 million in commercial and residential real estate.  He has never actually met his client, the founder and owner who lives in the same city as the lawyer, in person.  He's currently getting nickle-dime matters from client, which has ambitious growth plans.  Yes we are recommending that he visit his client, to get more and better files.


    How The Long Tail Applies to Law Firms

    Thelongtail_1 For the next issue of Law Technology News Monica Bay, Editor-in-Chief, asked me how law firms can apply the lessons of the new book The Long Tail, Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson. This topic will be the cover story of the next issue. With her blessing, here's a sneak preview of my comments:

    As I see it, a new book proves that the day of the full-service, general practice law firm is over.  Clients don't want generalists, whom they see as jacks-of-all-trades, masters-of-none.  They want an expert in their particular problem.  This is very good news for litigation boutiques, IP firms and specialty practice firms.

    Clients want the needle in the haystack, the lawyer who knows how to solve their precise problem, and thanks to the Web, clients can find them.  For lawyers this means:

    • It's time to examine your client base and identify the industries in which the firm has experience (not the strong practice groups).  Clients, even the GC, see themselves as a member of an industry, not a customer of a practice group.  Industry experience is one of the first things clients look for on a law firm Web site.  Many law firms make the mistake of "marketing their organization," that is, using their internal administrative structure to shape their marketing and structure their Web sites.  This is a mistake. On the other hand, firms that market themselves as industry experts are "organizing around the market," and presenting themselves in the way clients buy.
    • It's time to identify the firm's high-margin, most-profitable practices and start blogs about them.  The prime example is the blog of Dennis Crouch, of Counsel at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff in Chicago. The blog, "Patently-O," gets 50,000 visitors per week.  The blog has brought in Fortune 500 companies and referrals from lawyers he's never met.  He makes a point about writing about client interests, not about the services the firm has to offer.

    The Long Tail illustrates why we no longer watch the 11 PM news and why we don't use the Yellow Pages anymore. People can get all this information online, immediately and up-to-the-minute.  Law firms that make themselves findable by pinpoint Web searchers will thrive.


    More Marketers for Lawyers at Big Firms

    My colleague John Remsen notes in his August 2 e-newsletter, "For years, the average ratio of lawyers to marketers at firms with marketing professionals was widely believed to be in the neighborhood of 35 or 40:1. Now comes research from Wisnik Career Enterprises that puts that ratio at 26:1 among the nation's 100 largest law firms."

    That's one marketer serving an average of 26 attorneys, which is very generous marketing support at the megafirms.  Things have changed a lot since I has in-house at a big Chicago law firm in the 1990s.  We had 4 marketing personnel (including me, a marketing coordinator, a database clerk and a secretary) serving 1,000 lawyers, which works out to 1:250.  Talk about being stretched thin.

    Now thanks to Wisnik Career Enterprises, Inc. (Copyright 2006) we see the breakdown at AmLaw 100 Marketing Department sizes:



    Womble Carlyle's Dog Dances in the Face of Competitors

    WinstondancingWho says law firms don't have a sense of humor?  First, Womble Carlyle came up with their spokesdog, Winston the bulldog.  He appears in their ads, Web site and on the radio in Washington, D.C.

    Now Winston is dancing in the elevators of the competition.  Working with Greenfield/Belser, the law firm created a sassy video of Winston doing a little two-step while funky music plays in the background.  It concludes with the hook line, "A partner who knows how to lead. In Charlotte and throughout the Southeast."

    To see and hear Winston dancing, go to on the Web.  Turn up your speakers! Better yet, open QuickTime, click on File | Open URL, and put into the box.  It's a 32MEG file so you have to be patient.

    The kicker is that the firm put the video on those Captiva flat-screen displays that are in the elevators of modern office buildings.  Locating the offices of the competition, the firm made sure that Winston was dancing in those building elevators. 

    In your face, law firms with no mascot!


    Be There for "The Blog Revolution"


    "The Blog Revolution"
    How Lawyers are Using Blogs
    to Develop Business
    and Find New Clients

    (sign up an unlimited number of attorneys at a single location with one registration)
    August 9, 2006

    12:30 pm - 1:30 pm EST
    11:30 am - 12:30 pm CST
    10:30 am - 11:30 am MT
    9:30 am - 10:30 am PST

    > To Register online using a secure order form, visit:

    > Participate remotely from your desktop or conference room

    > Invite a colleague to the webcast

    There is no question that blogging is fast becoming a "hot" trend among lawyers.

    In an October 7, 2005 article entitled "Opening Arguments, Endlessly," the New York Times noted that although lawyers constitute only 1 percent of the population, a recent survey of 17,000 bloggers by a leading blog ad network found that 6.1% of bloggers are lawyers.

    Similarly, in December 2005, the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association asked its members for their take on the blogging phenomenon. The response: 57% of respondents read at least one blog on a regular basis, while 19% are already publishing their own blog.

    So what's the bottom line? How can a lawyer use a blog as a marketing tool to find new clients and develop new business?

    Veteran attorney blogger and online marketer Joshua Fruchter will draw on his extensive experience designing, launching and maintaining law firm blogs to teach you the "best practices" of attorney blogging.

    During this 60-minute webinar, Joshua Fruchter will use "real life" case studies to explain: 

    • Why blogs are the #1 technology trend (as per Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, and Business Week)
    • 5 compelling reasons to start a law blog today
    • Why the search engines love blogs
    • How to find content to write about on your blog
    • Why publishing your own blog is not as time consuming as you may think
    • The 7 "best practices" of attorney blogging
    • Avoiding common blog pitfalls
    • How to choose the right blogging software
    • What "podcasts" are and how they differ from blogs

    "Early Bird" Registration: $125 per location (for registrations on or before August 4, 2006)

    Regular Registration: $250 per location (for registrations after August 4, 2006)

    Registration covers: an Internet and audio connection to the webinar per location. Plus each location will receive a free copy of Joshua's article entitled "Best Practices of Attorney Blogging."

    Special for Law Firms: each registration entitles a law firm to invite an unlimited number of attorneys to participate at a single office location. You may contact us at 866-833-6245 to handle registrations for multiple offices.

    To Register online using a secure order form, visit:

    To Register by phone: For single location registrations, call 1.866.462.2838 (Monday-Friday: 6:00am - 5:00pm PST; Saturday: 6:00am - 1:00pm PST). For multiple location registrations, contact JD Bliss Support directly at 1.866.833.6245 or

    Invite colleagues or friends to the webinar

    Joshua_fruchterPresenter Bio
    After graduating cum laude from the New York University School of Law in 1993, Joshua worked for six years as a bankruptcy associate at Kaye Scholer, a large law firm in New York City. However, the entrepreneurial bug bit, and Joshua ended up as a senior executive at an Internet dot-com where he managed a multi-million dollar technology project encompassing various web and e-commerce components.

    Joshua later co-founded eLawMarketing, an agency that develops online marketing solutions tailored to the needs of law firms. Through eLawMarketing, Joshua has gained extensive experience designing, launching and maintaining blogs for individual attorneys and practice groups. In that capacity, he has developed a list of "best practices" for attorney blogging that maximize the likelihood of high search engine rankings for those law blogs that adhere to the recommended practices.

    Joshua regularly speaks and writes on attorney blogging, and was recently appointed to the Board of Editors of Marketing the Law Firm - a popular newsletter on law firm marketing published by American Lawyer Media for which Joshua authors a bi-monthly column on legal marketing technologies.

    Sample blogs launched by eLawMarketing can be viewed at:

    To register, go to: 
    For additional information or to register by phone,

    For single office registrations, call Customer Service at 1.866.462.2838
    (Monday-Friday: 6:00am - 5:00pm PST; Saturday: 6:00am - 1:00pm PST)
    For multiple office registrations, call 866-833-6245 or