“I find myself in more of a reactive mode when it comes to business development. I do know it’s important for my legal career. I do know that I need to dedicate time to it. It’s just so hard to find time for it with all the billable hours and other commitments I have.”
I hear this from almost every lawyer client I have.
The way this conversation typically goes surprises a lot of my clients. Because instead of starting to share numerous productivity tips and business development strategies with them, I ask them one question:
“How important is having a book of business to you, really? It’s just us here talking. You can be completely honest. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the level of importance you place on building and growing your own client base?”
The conversation then continues in one of two ways:
In this case, I challenge them:
“Wow, it seems that having your book of business is really important to you. Usually, when something is this important to us, we prioritize above other things and find the time and resources to achieve it. I bet you can think of a goal that you really wanted to achieve and you made it happen, despite everything else that’s been going on in your life. So what do you think is the real reason why you don’t prioritize business development?”
In this case, I question them:
“Okay, I see. Can I be direct with you? It doesn’t seem like it’s that important to you. I mean, you say it’s important, but your rating shows me otherwise. What do you think is underneath this disconnect?”
What follows is often an honest discussion about how my clients feel about business development. What emerges is that they feel uncomfortable with self-promotion or worried about being perceived as being self-serving, pushy, or salesy. An image of a “sleazy salesman” is often conjured up.
Why is this relevant?
Because the results we get are the direct reflection of the actions we take or don’t take. And whether we take or don’t take these actions depends on the feelings we have about our goals. The feelings we have are caused by our predominant thoughts (and these thoughts are both your conscious & subconscious).
Here is an example of how this can play out:
- Conscious Thought: “I want to bring in $500,000 in business this year.”
- Subconscious Thought: “I don’t have what it takes yet. It’ll take too much work on my part. I will look like a used car salesman. And who am I to want so much anyway? I should just be happy with what I’ve got.”
- Feelings: Hope, fear, overwhelm, frustration, doubt
- Action: “I’m not going to bother.”
- Result: No new business brought in
The key point here is this:
If there’s an exterior struggle, then it simply means there’s an internal disconnect.
Once you clear the internal disconnect up, the results you want happen almost instantly. If not, your subconscious will always win!
So the key questions any lawyer who wants to be more proactive and successful in business development should ask themselves are:
- What am I doing to achieve my business development goals?
- How am I sabotaging my efforts?
To break through the cycle of self-sabotage:
- First, understand what your feelings are telling you.
- Then identify whether any of your thoughts and beliefs are holding you back.
You may say you want to develop business, get lots of clients, make lots of money, but…
- You may be secretly judging people who are known rainmakers
- You may think that business development is about being pushy, aggressive, self-serving and salesy
- You may be frustrated and impatient that it’s not happening fast enough
- You may be blaming your situation, your firm, the system, the economy
- You may have strict rules about the way something can happen or show up
- You may have big fears about stepping out in a big way and promoting yourself
- You may have feelings of not deserving or being worthy of so much