Hunters vs. Farmers: Selling Legal Services in a Remote Environment
by Melissa Rogozinski, Chief Executive Officer
A version of this article first appeared in the February 15, 2022 issue of Law.com.
According to LegalComplex, 2021 saw 340+ venture rounds for a total of $6.5 billion, a record-breaking 111% increase over 2020. A perusal of several, industry-leading news and blog sources reveals the majority of this was spent on acquisitions, mergers and product development. While investments in legal tech may have skyrocketed last year, sales came to a near-grinding halt across the industry.
A study by Jacqueline Militello, reviewed by Complex Discovery, reported that business professionals attributed the lack of face-to-face interactions during COVID as their most significant handicap to networking and the ability to build new relationships leading to organic sales. Prospects of our own consulting firm confess that the majority of their business comes from existing clients or referral sources, and my legal tech recruiting friends are almost always looking for senior sales executives with existing books of business.
Clearly, sales aren’t dead—but if you read the entire article by LegalComplex, you’ll discover the stark reality: “Stimulus and venture funding are keeping large parts of the economy afloat while overall demand is slowing.”
The problem with sales is that, after years of tending to our revenue farms with capital transactions, current clients and referrals, we need to retrain professionals to hunt for new leads and opportunities.
“Without face-to-face meetings, so many sellers relied on brute force approaches through email, phone, and text. To stand out from all that noise, you must provide compelling content focused on current challenges and value in order to grow new business,” said Doug Kaminski, chief revenue officer at Cobra Legal Solutions. “Not everyone is willing or able to make that shift to client centric selling.”
Natural-born hunters can’t help themselves—we’re always hungry! Every step of the chase excites us, and we have a hard time being patient about the sales process. However, sales professionals who have relied on existing business, become complacent with the status quo or realistically struggled on how to evolve through the pandemic can be retrained as HUNTERS with the following process:
- Hunting Prowess. (H) Hunters know that prospects will be found in their natural environment, which for business professionals, is now a virtual world. Start finding your buyers through company websites, LinkedIn, Sales Navigator and your own CRM and marketing campaign analytics reports. Dig deeper into their social media engagement patterns, professional associations and industry-related webinars and virtual events they may attend.
- Unique Selling Point. (HU) Knowing what makes your product or service stand out among competition will help you hunt the right prospect. Those same prospects are also following, interviewing and engaging with your competitors. Think like a buyer and study your competitors marketing channels to hunt for prospects, their profiles and understand what would make them choose you over the competition.
- Needs Assessment. (HUN) Now that you understand where to hunt for your prospects and how your unique selling point differentiates you from the competition, use that knowledge to determine the gaps that your prospect seems to be trying to fill. Prepare an SAP (strategic account plan) that includes information about the prospect like BANT qualification, financial status, key stakeholders, their clients and competitors, and how your products or services can help alleviate their business challenges. (Pain points identified from SAPs have produced a 100% positive response rate with prospects at RPC Strategies.
- Target with Marketing. (HUNT) Share the intelligence learned from the needs assessment with marketing to create messaging that demonstrates how your unique selling point not only solves your prospect’s problem but also why it is a better solution than the competition. Develop a multi-touch, multi-channel nurturing strategy, and make sure integrations and automations capture the kind of data and reporting that sets up the engagement workflow for the sales team.
- Engagement Workflow. (HUNTE) Being able to get the attention of your prospect without getting lost in the jungle of digital communication channels requires a very targeted approach. Leverage two to five pain points from the needs assessment to create specific outreach efforts to the prospect. Make sure the prospect’s information is captured as a lead in your CRM and implement an engagement workflow that includes personal email threads from your business account, LinkedIn connection request, Sales Navigator follow, regular LinkedIn post engagement, video messages, handwritten postcards and phone calls.
- Request for Proposal. (HUNTER) Leveraging the information collected from your competitive intelligence, unique selling points, SAP and needs assessment will make your sales cycle far more efficient and effective upon securing the first discovery meeting. Prepare “how” and “what” questions to encourage dialogue with the prospect that confirms your research, provides additional information not otherwise available and leads them into agreement that they want and need your solution. When they ask for a proposal—and they will—make sure it is tailored to echo the story told during the sales meetings.
- Sales. (HUNTERS) We all know closing the sale is no easy task. Issuing a proposal doesn’t guarantee an executed contract. Continue to take the lead on scheduling proposal review and negotiation meetings. Make sure that you’ve kept notes and recordings from all the previous meetings and communications that can be accurately referenced and applied to deal-closing follow-up conversations. Armed with the right tools and information, the cold, often challenging and lengthy sales process can turn into a much smoother, collaborative and shorter buying process.
As we stated in our December article, “If you want to want to drive real revenue growth in an environment manipulated by a global pandemic, then you must find new ways to think about, study and prepare to meet the needs of the new legal services buyer.”
The first six weeks of 2022 is showing significant signs that businesses are ready to move forward, hire again, increase compensation and budgets and spend money on the people, products and services they need in order to reach new goals and objectives.
And it’s time that serious sales professionals put on their hunting gear, go find their prospects and be ready when it’s time to pull the trigger.
RPC Strategies’ “Lift Your Sales” series is our response to several requests for solutions to this pain point. We have several more topics in store for the coming months that will address strategies like setting up your CRM for sales success, how to write and use an SAP for more effective lead qualification, sales process and workflows for higher close-win rates, the most important (and overlooked) member of your sales team and many more. Please connect with us on LinkedInand/or register for our newsletter here.