In the most recent episode of Mad Men we meet up again with our protagonist Don Draper, going through the motions of showing up to work. On time. Saying the proper hellos, then walking into his office and shutting the door.
Don has lost the trust of his partners. He has no work. He is bored. He sits in his office and waits. For something. Something to happen. Waiting for the phone to ring.
When the call comes, from Peggy Olson, his former underling — not a mentee — he is insulted. He is being asked to do a job several rungs down the ladder.
But Don has yet to rehab his reputation. He is still on the outs with his partners who are unwilling to fire him. So he just sits in his office collecting a very large check.
Don, being Don, scoffs and gets rip roaring drunk. He causes chaos.
The work he wants, he cannot get. He has not earned back the right. He can see the future, it’s computers, but he cannot touch it.
Freddy Rumsen, his sober friend and ghost copy-writer, who has yet to repair all the damage he caused in his drunken days, tells Don to “just do your job.”
As a legal marketer there are days I am asked to do things I find to be below my pay grade.
During an interview I remember telling the managing partner of an AmLaw 100 firm that if he ever saw me at a copy machine to just say to himself “chi ching, chi ching” at all the money he was wasting.
Pretty arrogant of me. (I did get the job and the assistance I was requesting. Took a bit longer to drop the attitude of entitlement.)
While my job is not to make packets and photocopies, per se, it is to make lawyers look good, and sometimes that means I have to stand at a photocopy machine or do work I find to be drudgery.
So what does this have to do with lawyers?
How many lawyers out there find it beneath them, and the “profession” of law, to sell their services like a common vendor? To work a trade show booth? To do the research to learn about the client’s business? To write articles or speak at conference, or mingle at the cocktail parties? Populate their LinkedIn page with content and connections? Or, better yet, at the end of the pitch to ask for the work?
I hear too often that selling services is about relationships, but if you don’t have the relationships you need to fill that pipeline and meet people.
The days of sitting in your office, waiting for the phone to ring, or a more senior partner to walk in with your next plum assignment, is over. It was over a long time ago and you need to get with the new order of doing business.
Repeat after me: “I am a BUSINESS, in addition to a profession.” Business first. Gotta pay your bills and turn on your lights before you can think of billing an hour.
In short: a lawyer’s job is to provide a (legal) service to a customer who wants to purchase it for the best price and value.
Do it well, and you will have repeat customers, and referrals. But you cannot rest on your laurels and wait for the phone to ring. Clients have too many options today to find an attorney so that calling a colleague and requesting a reference is not always the first, second, or third choice.
With law schools continuing to churn out more lawyers then the “business of law” can absorb there is more competition out there for the business you want. Which means the “profession of law” needs to acknowledge that the drudgery of business development and SALES is a key component of the job.
Business development isn’t something to do in lieu of billing clients. It’s what needs to be done to get the client. And keep the client.
Hey, I get it. Sales is not my favorite function either. But I do internal sales all day long, trying to convince lawyers to use my services. Some days I am quite convincing. Other days, not so much. But that’s the challenging and fun part of my job. Converting those attorneys into believers, and then advocates.
For those of you who just can’t get past the sales function required to have a successful business, I do have one solution: You Need a Pete.
(Click here for more Mad Men and Lawyers posts)
Photo courtesy of Flickr: Celestine Chua