Preparing adequately for pitch meetings it is not always a lawyers’ priority. Their busy schedule leaves them unprepared to address the real concerns of the clients and they end up talking too much about themselves. Here are the six steps of a successful pitch meeting:
Diagnose before you prescribe. Most lawyers are very proud of what they do as individuals, groups and as law firms. And they should be. They usually attended great schools, got excellent grades and mastered the practice of law until they achieved good results for their clients. However, a lawyer should never focus on his capabilities during a pitch meeting. Diagnosing before you prescribe means to address the problems that are keeping the client up at night and discussing possible solutions. A lawyer should talk about himself only after taking the time to focus on the client.
Research the potential client. Start early and do your research. This is the first step in preparing for a business development meeting with a potential client. You can find information about any company on the internet – via client`s web site, content searches, case-filing searches and your own lawyers.
Probe the potential client. Acquire additional information prior to the meeting and find out who will be participating. Call your potential client and ask about the company`s goals, culture, emerging challenges and legal needs. It will not only make a favorable impression but prepare you for a great meeting.
Prepare relevant materials. Use generic firm, group and biographic materials as supplemental materials to demonstrate how your firm has successfully solved problems for clients like them industries like theirs.
Focus conversation on the potential client. Ask specific questions about the potential client, its market, administrative structure, operations, business and legal challenges. Then, use the answers to generate follow-up questions. Make sure you understand their problems first and then switch gears and talk about your solution and “leave it all on the table.” Act as if the potential client has already hired you and provide advice of value that demonstrates exactly how you and your colleagues function as trusted advisers.
Follow up with the potential client. Do not wait around passively for the potential client to contact you. Try to leave the meeting with a specific next step and follow up with a schedule of regular contact to continue to build the relationship. Asking questions like “Can I call you in a week to see if you have any additional questions?” and sending thank you letters are both great follow-up strategies.
In other words, a business development meeting is not about you. Successful law-firm business developers know how to turn the spotlight away from themselves and shine it on the potential client.