Law firms have, basically speaking, one thing to sell –TIME. Their inventory is determined by the number of bodies in the “warehouse” multiplied by the hours available within those bodies.
Here are a few scenarios of how firms are managing their inventory in 2009.
- Firm #1 is downsizing to clear the warehouses of unused inventory. They hope to absorb the initial loss of income over the next year.
- Firm #2 is reducing prices. They hope to sell more time at lower prices and maybe break even.
- Firm #3 is working harder to move the product off the shelves because they know clients still need what they’re selling. They’re brushing off the value statement, making it relevant to today’s marketplace. They’re working smarter and investing more in their people, supplying them with tools to build their books of business. And, they’re still in the business of making a profit come hell or high water.
How will Firm 3# do it?
Editorial note: In the spirit of transparency, it is not my intention to make this blog a place for self promotion…at all, ever. But in this post I advocate for the value of using outside consultants to help move product. Whether for strategic management decisions, IT infrastructure, human resources, or marketing, these times demand new ways of doing business. Some of our most creative minds exist in the consulting sphere. Follows are just a few.
I’m not exclusively advocating Internet strategy consulting; such as I do at LawGravity or Renee Barrett does at Awareness Action, Accountability, though the social Internet continues to become a more critical tool every year. Here’s a timely Miami Herald Story on the growing importance of social computing in political fund raising. And that’s all I’m going to say about it in this post. I am going to suggest a few other resources that Firm #3 and everyone else would do well to consider.
Now is the time to consider consultants such as my friends at Wicker Park Group or Linda Hazleton Consulting, that train CMOs, Managing Partners and lawyers, helping them develop the skills necessary to effectively interview their clients –to improve and solidify those relationships. I think we can all agree that clients want to be heard and appreciated beyond the annual holiday gift giving time.
Or, you might consider professionals that coach individual lawyers in business development and sales skills, such as my friends at Hildebrandt International or David Freeman Consulting. Every lawyer can benefit from more focus on structuring strategy and execution for the acquisition of new clients.
And don’t forget exposure. Marketing consultants and agencies come in with an objective perspective. They have a fiduciary duty to the law firm, not to the publications or search engines that clamor for your advertising dollars. Pros like the team at Herrmann Advertising Design and Communications are great at helping with the big picture in this regard and they are worth every penny.
Networking? Consider bringing in the fine folks who created the Legal Mocktail to conduct a lively and productive workshop session to train or refine bricks and mortar networking skills. This is the bread and butter of building relationships that lead to new business.
I’m not suggesting for a minute that law firm CMO’s and Directors aren’t savvy in these areas or capable of leading these initiatives with in-house teams. But, sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day. And, the depth of knowledge that outside experts bring, along with fresh ideas, can compliment in-house expertise and stimulate the process.
How many times have you needed to drive home a message to your firm that something needs to get done? An outside voice that brings an industry wide perspective into the mix can help law firm #3 move product off the shelf.
If you are using outside consultants in this challenging market, I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments, plus or minus.