We hear from many attorneys who are frustrated because they have lost business to a competing firm that cut its rates.
Gone are the days where client loyalty and referrals provide predictable business. Most attorneys simply do not have the ability to generate organic business, or even repeat business, from clients without engaging in strategic business development. This means sales and marketing, which are two concepts that many lawyers are uncomfortable with.
In this new series, I’m going to look at how attorneys can more effectively position and sell themselves, without making compromises that mar their reputation, professional self-esteem or bottom line.
Today, let’s start with the race to the bottom in the pricing game.
Have your firm’s services been commoditized? Whether intentionally or inadvertently, if your clients see your firm’s services as transactional or interchangeable with those of any other firm, then you’re vulnerable to losing their business on price. If you’re the cheapest “vendor,” they will “use” you. If you’re not the cheapest, or if your client feels that they will get something more valuable or more interesting from another firm, they’ll switch to your competitor.
How can you tell if your client sees you as a vendor? In addition to a general feeling of being “disrespected” professionally, look for any of the following:
- The client leaves without warning.
- The client refuses to refer you to other people, even people in their own company or family.
- The client regularly pushes you to cut your rates, or to provide additional services for free. If you’ve been asked to “throw in” an additional service, or provide a “two-for-one,” your client sees you as a vendor.
If you are perceived a vendor, you’ll need to right your firm’s ship before you can hope for a profitable practice that is professionally satisfying. I don’t know even a single lawyer who wants to be thought of as a vendor.
In the next posts in this series, we’ll look at specific behaviors and signals that contribute to attorney-vendor status, and then look at ways to position your firm as a strategic provider and that stands apart from the crowd and above your competition.