To help lawyers find the language of benefits, it might be helpful to look at the type of benefits that exist. I believe there are five categories and two different recipients of the messages on benefits, as follows:
The first category is Quality of Work and the principal beneficiary is the client organisation. This benefit will be delivered through such aspects of service as:
- the rigour of work process will minimise legal risk to the client
- the strength of the expertise in the firm -mainstream lawyers have a lot of relevant experience and outstanding specialists are available when needed
- keeping clients informed of issues as they arise – clients like no surprises.
The second category is Speed and Timeliness and the potential beneficiary is again primarily the client organisation. This benefit will typically be delivered through:
- having strict schedules of work so the client can predict what is likely to be happening and when
- providing good timely reports on matter progress
- demonstrating that you are accessible and get back to clients quickly
The third category of client benefits is Value/Cost and this again is largely a benefit that relates to the client organisation. This benefit will typically be delivered through:
- providing certainty where possible on fees – if you put yourself in the client’s shoes, there aren’t many situations where you’d prefer not to know the costs of anything!
- demonstrating the value provided – lawyers can be shy about doing this and expect the client to see the value. Often it completely passes them by!
- offering to share risks – if the deal doesn’t proceed, being prepared to write off some fees.
The next two client benefits are noticeably different and I believe that they are often overlooked and can be very persuasive.
The fouth category is “we’ll make your life easier”. Notice how this is likely to appeal to the contracting client as a person. This can be delivered by:
- taking away some of the boring aspects of work such as administration (eg invoice amounts vs estimates)
- providing regular updates, so clients aren’t worrying about what is or isn’t happening
The final category of benefits is “help make you look good” and again this is a personal benefit to be offered to a key contracting client. This can be done by:
- providing reports in a user-friendly format so the client can incorporate information into their own internal board reports (and impress their boss!)
- allowing your client contact to achieve a ‘win-win’ in any negotiations, so they can impress their line manager with their negotiation.
These last two categories of benefits need to be communicated subtly rather than explicitly. But you’ll attract more client work if you cover more personal benefits.