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Understanding Your Business

29.03.2012

The business of selling legal services is in essence very much like any other business that sells a product or service. It should fundamentally be a set of simple processes; and it pays to keep it simple.

There are six key principles:

• You must have something to sell

• You must find a customer

• You must agree a price

• You must deliver or perform the service or product

• You must bill the customer

• You must collect the debt

First things first

In terms of the product, things couldn't be much simpler. There has always been a demand for legal services, and it is very hard to see that demand disappearing.

Whilst there might be some tinkering by legislature or convention, people will always need legal services - whether we're talking about a commercial contract or a will.

This brings us to the customer. I cannot think of many people or businesses who will not at some point require the services of a lawyer.

It is important to be clear about who that customer is - whether the firm is dealing in business to consumer or business to business law; if dealing with individuals, then are they high net worth or is the practice selling low-cost services such as simple conveyancing transactions.

Lawyers are generally regarded as being possessed of above average intellectual ability and so, when this is combined with a clear product and market, it is not easy to see why there may be a problem.

Feeling the fear

There is no doubt that over the past few years lawyers have become far more business savvy. However, we consistently come across firms that are underperforming in their sales function.

I believe that one of the key reasons for this is fear. This is not a trait unique to lawyers, and in such a competitive marketplace it is certainly understandable.

But the fact is that we meet many very good lawyers who are not confident enough to be firm on price, to maintain the price when submitting a bill, and to be willing to chase payment.

A secure future

The future for the legal profession is nothing if not uncertain. However, despite predictions of impending doom from various commentators, we firmly believe that the future for lawyers who understand their business is bright.

This involves knowing the product, customer and price, and being prepared to be firm when embarking on a relationship with the client.

Client relationships are at the heart of the legal business model, and so setting client expectations at the outset and meeting them at every step along the way is crucial.

Understanding the lawyer’s role as a business person and a salesperson, and developing the confidence needed to perform these functions, is a key component in our Profitable Partnerships Program. For more information please do not hesitate to contact us.

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