Many firms are trying to change the nature of their relationships with clients – to be more relationship-orientated and less transaction focused.
But lawyers and other professionals find it difficult to pick up the phone to clients between deals. What should they say?
They feel anxious that the client doesn’t want to be ‘sold to’. They fear their approach will be rejected in some way.
The reality is that, if you are not trying to sell but are genuinely trying to develop the relationship, you should receive a positive response.
Before making the approach, you should consider:
- Where are we in our current relationship in terms of credibility, rapport and trust?
- What do we need to develop to deepen or broaden our relationship?
- What issues are important for this company in this sector and this person in this role?
Below are ten legitimate reasons to telephone or e-mail a client to develop the relationship. Some may be more suitable for some clients than others, depending on your analysis and what they would appreciate.
- To say that a mutual contact has suggested you give them a call – assuming the third person is well regarded by the recipient of the call, you should be off to a good start
- To thank them for something – they may have mentioned something to you (eg a useful trade magazine, forthcoming conference, trade association, good place for a family holiday in Turkey etc) that you have successfully followed up on.
- To invite them to a seminar – a personal invitation demonstrates that you are thinking of them and is better than an unpersonalised invitation
- To invite them to a discussion group – perhaps inviting four other clients and a ‘speaker’ to provoke a lunchtime discussion
- To invite them to meet another client/contact – your clients need networking opportunities as well and I’ve heard many clients are disappointed that their professional advisors don’t help much with networking!
- To invite them to meet a colleague – someone with market insights or relevant technical expertise
- To ask them if they would like to be invited to an event (eg cocktail party, sporting event, opera, beer tasting etc) – this can be a very good way of delivering a ‘thank you’ for all the work they’ve given you
- To follow up a conversation – you may have been interrupted when talking to them at a reception or have had further thoughts afterwards
- To invite them to take part in a joint marketing activity (eg seminar, article etc) – many people find the legal aspects of an issue a bit dull, but a client can provide a case study and make your points come alive
- To interview them for a research study you intend to publish (eg attitudes to new legislation, market developments etc) – research studies can provide excellent insights (what the marketing people call ‘thought leadership’)
Go on – pick up the phone! If you don’t, a rival will!