Few people know the exact challenges that business development professionals face on a day-to-day basis. Luckily for us, Introhive’s new Account Director, Alan Mercer, is one of those unique individuals.
Having spent the last decade in the legal sector as a legal marketing and business development professional, Alan has devised and implemented a range of successful new business and client development initiatives. He’s faced and solved many of the common challenges around growing a profitable client base by understanding, strengthening, and leveraging existing relationships.
With all of this experience under his belt, it goes without saying that Alan has unique insider knowledge on how firms can maximise ROI from their client relationships. To help share Alan’s expertise with you, we recently sat down with him to chat about his thoughts on client relationships and how they can be improved. Check out his top client relationship advice below.
How You Approach a Client Matters
Segmentation. Targeting. Positioning. These three areas are the basics of business development and marketing. But in the legal market, where there are strong existing relationships and very little differentiation, Alan believes that positioning is the area where firms can stand out.
“When first approaching new clients, you’re basically saying, ‘Hi, we’re a law firm,’ to which busy business owners often reply with ‘So what? We already have one of those,’” Alan explains. “Finding ways to differentiate yourself before, during, and after a client meeting is essential. You need to really understand the potential needs of the business in front of you and how your capabilities are a good fit. Otherwise, you’re lumped together with every other law firm out there.”
How does Alan suggest you nail down that positioning? It starts with understanding your existing relationships.
“Before approaching a new client, you need to focus on the clients you have. Unless you understand your current relationships, who you know, and how you help them, it’ll be even harder to approach prospects in a meaningful way that attracts new clients.” (Click to Tweet)
To differentiate your law firm and really make an impact in client meetings, you need to be strategic in your approach first and foremost.
Understanding Your Relationships Affects Your Success
With more and more legal and professional services firms embracing strategic business development, it is becoming a more widely accepted strategy for growth. And if your firm isn’t investing in business development or technology to support it, you’ll start to lose market share.
“The future for business development will hold similar challenges in regard to technology. The firms that are investing in technology to better understand their relationships will see more success in a consolidating legal market,” Alan claims.
Alan’s point is spot on when considering that when firms recruit lateral hires, merge, or acquire, it is really to gain another firm’s client relationships. The firms that understand and develop long term, mutually beneficial, and multi-faceted relationships will succeed. So, if you’re not focused on developing your client relationships, you can bet on the fact that another firm is already talking to them.
Technology Can’t Have Conversations
When trying to improve your client relationships, Alan believes that although technology can play a crucial part, it’s important to remember that technology can’t do everything.
“Technology on its own won’t do anything. Your client development strategy is all about people engaging with their clients and having meaningful, commercial, and relational conversations. A new CRM system or piece of technology won’t have that conversation for you,” Alan explains. (Click to Tweet)
But while technology won’t have that conversation or develop your client on its own, it still plays a vital role in the process.
“Eventually you’ll need to know who you should be having conversations with, how strong your relationships are with key clients, who should you get to know better, and which clients are at risk,” Alan starts. “Technology can help you understand where your activity is best focused. It can deliver the insight required to help your people understand the complexity of your firm’s existing relationships and makes the process of having more effective conversations easier.”
As Alan eloquently put it, “technology takes the blindfold off.” With technology helping you move along the process, business development can happen with increased vision into your client relationships and how you can strengthen them. Technology isn’t the driver or the car, it’s the navigation system.
Ready for More Client Relationship Advice?
If there’s one thing you take away from Alan’s advice, it’s that your client relationships are critical assets to your firm that need to be closely managed and analysed. With Alan going to bat for our team, we know that our own client relationships are in great hands.
For more insights, our own CEO, Stewart Walchli, offers his best tips for client relationship management that they don’t teach you in law school.
Become a Valued Member of the Introhive Team
We’re always looking for more talented business development, sales, and marketing professionals to join our team. Check out our open positions to see if there is a good fit for you.