I saw a question posed recently on a closed network asking why it’s so difficult to get lawyers to purchase a specific service product. The specifics of the situation aside, I did start thinking, “why is it so hard to sell a product to lawyers.” Short answer: “Because they are lawyers.” First of all, lawyers, for the most part, are skeptical people and risk adverse. Whether you’re trying to sell them light-up pens, a redistribution service for their blog content, or a new Website, the lawyers will come at it with “why?” and “who else is doing it?” before they ever question the price. I have rarely met a lawyer who is willing to risk being the “first” to do anything, and, when they are, well, they’re not your typical lawyer. For any lawyer, whether in-house counsel or senior partner at a private law firm, they purchase products from those they know, like and trust. Here are a few suggestions/comments I have (Disclaimer: Although inspired in part by true incidents, the following scenarios are fictional and do not depict any actual person, event, product or law firm that I may or may not have ever worked at):
- If we don’t know you, we don’t care what you think. When you cold-call us, out of the blue, with a great product and service … if you do not have a relationship with us already, we don’t care. And, if I haven’t returned your call after three messages, I probably won’t.
- Know who we are. Don’t call me or my firm to sell me a service that we don’t need. Check out our website and blogs. Google us. My current firm is a boutique. I don’t care to get in front of every CEO in the Fortune 1000. I want to get in front of the legal service decision makers within a certain SIC/NAIC code. And while we’re at it … if you had read my personal blog you would have known that I’m not interested in your ghost writing/ blogging services.
- Budgets are tight. I don’t care if we’re in the middle of a recession, or boom times. The budget for the marketing department spend is always tight. Just how it goes. Don’t call me in July to sell me something for this year … odds are, if we’re not on track to hit our PPP, my budget will be frozen. As a former managing partner told me: “Consider your budget a wish list.”
- It costs HOW MUCH??? Great product, priced poorly won’t do, especially for smaller firms. I understand that you’re used to selling to AmLaw 100 firms. We’re not. Get your pricing in line with our firm’s revenues/budgets.
- Don’t be an ass. Sorry, but don’t try and slip around me and go directly to my partners to sell them some vanity product. Don’t call — or better yet, post on Twitter or your blog — to tell me how crappy my website SEO is, how poorly written a recent blog post is, how you could print a much better brochure than what we distributed at a conference, all in the name of selling me your services. Use the opportunity to build trust (and send me a PRIVATE or direct message) “Hey, Heather, your link is dead” or “Hey, Heather, that sentence sounds funky … why don’t you try this?”
And remember this: I’m not going to risk my job and reputation on you. I’m not going to bring you into my firm to present, sell or speak to my attorneys if I don’t TRUST that you will make ME look good.