Is Successfully Negotiating and Closing a Deal is Similar to Serving an Exquisite 5 Course Dinner?

On his website, Mitch Jackson treats us with an analogy in the form of a five course dinner.  He shows how successfully negotiating and closing a deal is very similar to selecting and timing the courses of an important dinner party.

Mitch gets his point across with vivid imagery that will have your mouth watering and your stomach growling and maybe even the itch to go close that deal that has eluded you for months. Click here to read the full article.


Closing a deal is a very similar experience. Go about things the right way and the negotiation will flow naturally and the deal will be one to remember. Skip a course or two and the other person just might get up and leave the communication table before the evening is over.

Start with the setting

You don’t serve a 5 course dinner on the lids of garbage cans in an alley behind the restaurant. Along those same lines, don’t try to negotiate an important deal over day old coffee in the parking lot of Wal-Mart while wearing a stained t-shirt.

Make sure that you’ve thought things through and have properly set your communication table—the place you’ll be serving your verbal meal– in a suitable fashion and location. Have your ducks in a row and remember to place your napkin in your lap, serve from the left, and clear from the right. Do what needs to be done to help ensure your surroundings are conducive to a meaningful discussion and presentation.

Now for the first course…

Start with something memorable. Tonight, we’ll be starting with essence of butternut squash, presented with a seared sea scallop, chive oil and young seedlings. Is your mouth starting to water? Mine is!

After a bit of small talk and building rapport, get immediate focus and attention by raising the problem or issue during the first course. 

Tip- Talk about the problem.

The second course

For your second course, we’ll be serving pan seared lump crab cake, presented with fire roasted corn and cilantro relish smoked chipotle aioli and butter poached leeks. While you enjoy this course and start to get in the mood for the main entre, spend some quality time talking in more detail about it the problem or issue. Discuss what bad things will happen if changes are not made. What are the short and long-term consequences of action or inaction? What will happen if things don’t get resolved and continue to drag on day after day and even year after year?

Tip- Discuss the short and long-term impact of the problem.

The third course

What better than to follow the crab cakes with a dish of roasted beet carpaccio, presented with seared goat cheese, beet syrup, aged balsamic reduction and mache greens. Do this correctly and your guest is already interested in what the next course will be.

You’ve got his attention. He knows why he’s sitting at the table and understands that action is needed or things will just get worse. Now is the time to show your guest how your idea will solve his problems. Working your way from the outside in, your utensils should include specific examples, metaphors and stories.

Tip- For the first time, reveal your specific solution to the specific problem of your guest.

The fourth course

Now that you’ve shared your solutions in the third course, knock your guest right off his chair with a fourth course consisting of something a bit more substantial. Let’s go with grilled fillet of beef, presented with caramelized shallot/red wine reduction, crisp truffle scented potato rosti, white asparagus and morel mushrooms. It might also be time to order another bottle of wine.

This course is all about substance and value. Show the other person exactly how your suggested solution will benefit him. Understanding that facts tell but stories sell, use the right utensils (words, pictures, testimonials, videos…) to continue showing your dinner guest how your product, service or idea will benefit and help him. Communicating and share major value and specific benefits, through stories and examples, are what the fourth course is all about.

Tip- Communicate the major benefits of your solution to your dinner guest.

The fifth and most important course

Click here to find out what is served for dessert!



What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business?

david ackert, What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business, legal marketing, law firm marketingLearn how to expertly handle business development opportunities with prospects, contacts and new referral sources in our upcoming webinar, What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business? On November 18, 2011, veteran business development expert David Ackert and I will  describe:

  • How to test to see if a prospective client needs an attorney.
  • What you should say about your firm and its capabilities.
  • How to transition from a social conversation to a business dialogue.
  • How to avoid looking like a salesperson. 

Register now for this webinar
Click here to register. Save 20% if you register on or before Nov. 11: fee $240
Save 10% if you register on or before Nov. 15: fee $270
Fee beginning Nov. 16: $300
You can pay online with a credit card. Display the program in a conference room and invite as many attendees as you wish.

Topics Include:
  • Common business development mistakes that attorneys make
  • What clients care about when meeting you
  • How to ask the right questions and listen effectively
  • How to excel in a networking situation
  • Diagnosing a clients' need for service
  • How to overcome client objections to engaging your services
  • How to sell ideas for next steps
  • How to use a proven, step-by-step business development process

Who Should Attend:

  • All Attorneys who want to understand and apply the best professional practices of business/referral discussions for successful business development.
  • Associates looking to develop the right skills for business development and to begin now to develop their networks.
  • Marketing Directors looking for ways to support their attorneys with sound, practical methods.

Click here to signup for this event.

5 Low Cost Ways to Attract More Clients for Your Small Law Firm

Excerpted from the Build Your Own Business blog by Dave Lorenzo of Aventura, FL:

1. Differentiate Yourself

As times get tougher, many other lawyers will "dabble" in your area of expertise. Make your prospective clients aware that this is happening. Remind your clients that you handle issues in your specialty full-time, not on a part-time basis. If you are a criminal defense attorney, explain to them that you are not a real estate attorney who takes a few criminal defense cases each year to "fill out his calendar."

The reason people chose you in a good economy is more important in a down economy. There is more competition out there. Focus on your unique value proposition and hammer it home. You must be able to articulate clearly why you are the best choice for this client in this situation.

2. Help Clients Understand the Consequences of Bargain Shopping

A client receives no bargain from cut-rate parachute manufacturers, heart surgeons, or legal practitioners. Paying less often means not getting the best work. Your prospective clients must understand this, and you are the best person who can bring it to their attention.

Help prospective clients focus on their own personal economy.

  • What consequences are they likely to face if this work is botched?
  • What is their exposure?
  • If this situation is not handled, how much will they suffer?
  • Do they want to face this possibility armed with the best possible representation?
  • Or do they want to take a big, big chance with someone else?

3. Work Your Contact Lists

Every lunch you eat by yourself is costing you money. You need to stay in front of the people who know you so they remember to refer clients to you. While many people may not come into daily contact with friends or relatives who need your services you never know when they may hear of someone who needs legal assistance. If you are on top of mind they can offer to connect them with you. This happens more often than you realize.

The best way to get these referrals is to sit down with people and get to know them. Breakfast, lunch or dinner provide the perfect opportunities to breathe new life into a potential referral relationship.

Invite long-time clients to lunch. Find out how you can help them by providing some referrals to their business. They will almost always want to reciprocate if possible. The more you give to them, the more they will want to help you.

4. Keep Your Name in Front of Everyone You Know Every Month

Greeting cards are cheap, easy and effective way to attract more legal clients. Every month has a holiday that will serve as an excuse for mailing your entire contact list. The more creative and memorable your message the more likely your contacts will refer you.

If this seems goofy (after all, who gets a greeting card from an attorney?), remember that being different is the point. For example, one side of your card can say something like: "All of us at XYZ Law Firm wish you a safe and happy Halloween. Thanks for thinking of us." On the opposite side it could say: "We help people who are being chased by real goblins, monsters, and other scary creatures waiting to attack your business (or your bank account)." Below this message, you print your contact information.

The key is not to be overtly solicitous. You want to remind people what you do and thank them for thinking of you.

5. Media Exposure Can Make a Difference

Getting your name and face in the local media can make a difference in attracting new legal clients for your small law firm. You may not get clients from actually appearing on television or being quoted in an article, but media outreach can help enhance your credibility.

Prospective clients often view media exposure as a surrogate for expertise. Giving a few interviews or commenting on a few out-of-town cases for a local reporter will help keep your name in front of clients and it will position you as an expert.

There is no reason your law firm should suffer in an economic downturn. People still need assistance handling legal matters. Develop these good habits now and you will attract more legal clients for your small law firm during a recession.