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  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Adam Severson, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer, Baker Donelson | LSSO Editorial Board Member

    The notion of being "crazy busy" is an awkward, unnecessary badge of honor in the legal industry. But it's unavoidable. There are so many competing demands, between RFPs and pitch prep, client events, credentialing submissions, press releases, client teams, client feedback interviews, firm strategy, practice group strategy… and the list goes on. Each of these growth drivers has a meeting, the meeting before the meeting, or series of monthly or quarterly meetings tied to it. And each has a variety of pieces and parts given the high volume associated with virtually any large law firm – 80+ RFP submissions, 100+ client events, 75+ press releases, 65+ credentialing submissions, 30+ client teams, 40+ client feedback interviews in the queue, etc.

    Individually, each of these tasks is doable. Collectively, they are also doable, but daunting. Executing well on all the things, all the time requires a high functioning and motivated team. I'm so incredibly fortunate to have such a team at my firm, Baker Donelson. However, even the best teams need to refuel from time to time. Each year, I host a Marketing & Business Development Team Retreat. I use the word "retreat" loosely as it's a jammed packed agenda of ways we can move the firm forward, but it also includes ample time to enjoy one another's company and have some fun! I create a hashtag to serve as the theme for the program every year, with prior themes including #teamworkmakesthedreamwork, #workhardplayhard, and #sharingiscaring. I knew this year's theme had to address the elephant in the room: burnout.

    I knew people were exhausted. While the saying goes, "it's a marathon, not a sprint," lately it has been feeling more like a sprinting marathon. It's important to listen to your colleagues as burnout can present itself in several ways.

    I knew we needed to discuss these concerns openly and provide realistic ways to help people calibrate and feel more like they were in control. A good friend in a similar marketing leadership role connected me with Annick D'Pierre, senior director of account management at The Energy Project, which works with organizations to improve employee well-being, fuel engagement, and drive productivity.

    I talked to Annick about what I was hearing, how I wanted to support my team, and whether her group could help. My concerns weren't new to Annick or The Energy Project, and I quickly gained a comfort level with her approach to problem solving and the way we could engage the team in a meaningful way.

    The Energy Project looks at four dimensions of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. During our retreat each person did an Energy Audit that asked a series of questions in each of these areas. This exercise shined a light on the issue (which I already knew was there), which then allowed us to work on a path forward. Our facilitator, Dr. Thurman Webb, masterfully discussed the behaviors that undermine our productivity and satisfaction as well as why we let them persist.

    "This discussion frequently lets people know that they are in the driver's seat and empowers them to influence how they show up in all aspects of their lives," Annick said. A key element of the path forward is thinking about renewal (an intentional practice to refuel your energy), how you prioritize it, and the different types and timeframes of renewal from which you can benefit. We often spend our days expending energy on our continuous list of demands, without considering that the more intense the performance demand, the greater the need to regularly renew. The most sustainable formula consists of balancing energy out with energy in. My colleagues and I left that afternoon feeling more self-aware, empowered, and energized.

    The theme was ultimately #bestversionofme. The workshop described above was the focal point of our time together. We also had each team member describe their own "Best Thing" from the prior year (personal or professional). One unintended benefit of these shared stories was that the process allowed folks to shine a light on a colleague or brag on something the team had accomplished. In nearly every circumstance, the thing wasn't easy; it was multi-faceted and challenging, which speaks to the drive of the group.

    Following the retreat, I've noticed many team members being more intentional about their renewal time. In fact, I calendared renewal time for everyone to make sure we were "forced" to deliberately address renewal. With the team retreat in the rearview mirror, we're running fast again and juggling a long list of demands, but there's a greater sense of calm. I'm thankful to have listened and to have engaged The Energy Project,, and am continually looking for opportunities to find renewal. You should make a concerted effort to do so too.

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Authors: David Ackert, MA, CEO and Founder, PipelinePlus | Founding Member, LSSO SSSME BoardDonna Fulmer, Director of Marketing, PipelinePlus

    2023 brings many of the same challenges that law firms faced in 2022, like ever-changing hybrid work arrangements and talent shortages. Added to the mix are three exacerbating factors: a decrease in client demand driven by an uncertain economic forecast, the ever-increasing array of technologies vying for market share, and the usual reticence to engage seriously in any endeavor that may come across as “salesey.”

    In the wake of these challenges, law firms must find ways to motivate busy, client-focused lawyers to manage their sales pipelines consistently and effectively. In the 2023 State of CRM industry report, we explore the perspective of marketing/business development (BD) professionals from more than 70 US firms as they seek to navigate these business development headwinds.

    At the core of our annual research is finding out whether CRM is effective for law firms, especially when it comes to business development. We view CRM as one of the byproducts of a law firm’s business development maturity and its willingness to put effective technology, systems, and operational structures in place to optimize its sales function.

    Our research shows that more than 80% of law firms have a CRM solution, but only 20% rate their CRM as “effective” across critical marketing/BD functions, and just slightly fewer rate their CRM as “moderately effective.”

    It’s interesting to note that comparing responses by firm types (law, accounting, financial advisory, consulting, and engineering) in our 2023 State of CRM in Professional Services Firms industry study, law firms rank CRM the lowest in terms of effectiveness in multiple marketing/BD functions. 

    Of course, for CRM to be highly effective for BD at law firms, it must be consistently utilized by lawyers to manage their pipelines. This year’s results reveal that fewer than 4 out of 10 lawyers at firms use CRM at all, and of them, only slightly more than one-quarter use it regularly for sales pipeline management. 

    So, what are lawyers’ main challenges regarding CRM adoption? 

    1. Lack of time
    2. No requirement to use it
    3. High level of data entry
    4. Lawyers’ lack of understanding/care about CRM’s value to the firm

    It is notable that a significant percentage of professionals from law firms cite lawyers not being required to use CRM as a key factor contributing to low adoption. 

    An additional adoption challenge is a lack of technology integrations. In the words of one of our marketing/BD professional respondents, “We are seven years into our CRM with little to no integration improvements. We’ll likely be searching for a more integrated tool in the near future that will hopefully address our issues.” 

    Whether they use CRM for sales pipeline management or not, lawyers must somehow manage their BD efforts. This year’s research shows that more than four out of 10 lawyers still use Excel spreadsheets, paper notes, and Outlook reminders for sales pipeline management. The fact that these disconnected, old-school methods are preferable to CRM demonstrates that firms have a long way to go to help lawyers understand how using a Customer Relationship Management tool benefits its lawyers. 

    In our 20+ years of experience introducing BD technology into law firms, we’ve found that if leadership does not play a role in driving adoption, lawyers will not use it of their own accord. Delving a little deeper into the issue of accountability, we asked firms to identify the level of accountability lawyers are held to for using CRM. 

    To us, it was not surprising to learn that lack of accountability for using CRM is a top challenge by three out of 10 firms, yet marketing/BD professionals claim that lawyers are held to little or no accountability at nearly two-thirds of law firms. While most law firm leaders would agree that an organized, synchronized approach to business development is important, few are willing to use their social capital to introduce accountability measures that would improve lawyer CRM user adoption. 

    Turning to what law firms do to provide to support CRM implementation and who provides it, respondents reveal that the most significant percentage of firms use initial training/onboarding services by their CRM provider, and the second largest percentage use either ongoing training or user adoption initiatives provided by internal marketing/BD teams. 

    But adoption efforts don’t end after CRM implementation. The survey asked what tools and initiatives BD/marketing professionals use to increase user adoption. The top three tools and initiatives firms use to boost lawyers’ CRM adoption are: 

    1. Marketing/BD professionals updating their CRM on behalf of lawyers
    2. BD coaching by internal coaches
    3. Regular encouragement from the marketing/BD team

    The CRM user adoption tool or initiative the smallest percentage of firms uses is gamification/contests for lawyers. 

    Despite the low percentage of lawyers who use CRM for sales pipeline management, we wanted to know what level of ROI marketing/BD professionals get from the CRM. 

    Overall, marketing/BD professionals at more than four out of 10 law firms report that CRM delivers little ROI to their firms. The second highest percentage of firms say their CRM delivers no ROI. 

    Since over 80% of law firms have CRM, it is clearly deemed a valuable technology, so it’s important to analyze firms that report little to no ROI versus those that report a medium to high level of ROI. The data reveals several key differences. Firms that report medium to high ROI are:

    • Three times more likely to spend $75-500K per year on CRM
    • Four times more likely to use CRM adoption initiatives
    • Three times more likely to hold seller-doers to a high level of accountability for CRM use
    • 60% more likely to use internal or external BD coaching

    Finally, we asked law firm marketing/BD professionals to identify their biggest BD challenge. 

    According to responses, the biggest BD challenge is that lawyers don’t prioritize business development enough. The second and third most cited challenges are the lack of a strong BD culture at their firms and lawyers lacking the coaching they need to be effective and to hold them accountable.

    In a year when client demand is relatively low, it is even more critical that lawyers have the skills and technology needed for business development success. For marketing/BD professionals, aptly arming lawyers in 2023 poses a particularly tough challenge. Tighter budgets mean smaller investments in the resources that yield better ROI, namely sophisticated BD platforms, adoption initiatives, and external coaches that can help drive new lawyer behaviors.

    For our full CRM report, click HERE.

    And be sure to attend LSSO's 2023 RainDance Pre-Conference, where David and his team will be leading an interactive program for firms interested in revenue growth initiatives.

    About the Authors

    David Ackert, MA, is the CEO and Founder of PipelinePlus, a highly regarded thought leader and business development pioneer in the legal industry.

    Donna Fulmer is the Director of Marketing at PipelinePlus, with +20 years of experience in professional services marketing and public relations.

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Gemma Prescott, Practice Group Leader - Marketing and Business Development, IntappFounding Member, LSSO SSSME Board

    Law firms are now sophisticated at providing, and reporting on, those “value-add” services – CLE programs or knowledge management consultancy perhaps – offered in addition to their core legal advice. These help to deepen relationships, with both parties benefiting from the ensuing transfer of knowledge. Fewer firms consistently show the same rigor in precisely articulating the value that will be delivered on matter, however.

    Traditionally, this value might have felt implied: at the outset both client and lawyer share a sense of the problem (an investigation) or objective (a commercial agreement) and so the “why” is clear enough. But two trends present an occasion for lawyers to sharpen the articulation of their unique value, emulating other industries.

    1. The evolution in legal service delivery models and expansion into new service areas – risk or legal operations consulting as an example – which continues apace. With this transition comes a new competitor set [the Big 4, Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs), technology vendors], perhaps more practiced in articulating value or business cases, given their heritage with long-term transformation projects where an ability to explore specific pain points, and demonstrate a value against relieving those, may unlock budget and ultimately project approval. Certainly, since moving from the legal to technology sector I have witnessed first-hand the benefits provided by specialist value engineers, professionals who work with our clients to articulate a measurable case for change. 
    2. A continued demand from corporate legal departments (CLD) for Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) instead of pricing based on time-inputs (hours-recorded), where lawyers are less challenged to unpack more precisely the outcomes or value of their service. Value-Based AFAs, although demanding a rigor of discussion regarding relevant outcomes and data robust enough to support their measurement, which means they are found less commonly than Time-Based AFAs, are attractive in more tightly aligning law firm service with longer-term organizational goals.  

    Finding Value in the Why and the How

    Increasing pricing sophistication and flexibility is not the only benefit of asking deeper discovery questions. Exploring the themes below to help unpick business value (the why) with a prospect will also likely produce a much richer picture of the stakeholders involved – and their personal drivers and pain points – than can be inferred from an RFP or RFI document.

    • Strategy enablement – Understanding the importance of a joint venture in enabling new market access.
    • Risk & compliance – Embedding a new compliance program to mitigate risks arising from changing business practices.
    • Measurable benefits – Increasing the speed of contacting through automation.
    • Innovation – Enabling broader transformative change deemed to be strategically important, such as accepting bitcoin.

    The unique value in a firm’s proposition can often be found in how advice will be provided – perhaps responding to specific CLD pain points unearthed through the conversation(s) above. The broadening of service teams to include additional disciplines such as project managers, legal technologists, etc. provides an important means of differentiation over and above the potential to reduce (expensive) senior lawyer hours.

    The goal here will be to ensure pursuit teams articulate this broader value. To provide two examples:

    • Painting a picture of how including project managers or process improvement specialists in the team means that post matter the client will gain a clearly documented process or playbook that their team can use going forwards, and a more repeatable, optimized process that could be followed by more junior resource, or outsourced, within clearly defined risk parameters, saving costs in the longer-term.  
    • Or, from a legaltech perspective, having applied document review tools to help interrogate a population of contracts to resolve a specific question – exposure to force majeure clauses in supply chain contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic, for example – positioning the longer-term benefit of how having structured data points about their contracts available will enable future analysis more quickly.

    The benefits of a more tightly agreed value case are likely to sustain past selection. A more comprehensive encapsulation of the longer-term value provided may also extend the period of gratitude experienced by a client, before the decline described in Foonberg’s Gratitude Curve sets in, with invoice or service-related queries then increasing. And during the matter this clarity will ensure newer team members quickly understand their client’s longer-term drivers and the role they play in achieving those, improving service. 

    Evidencing the Value of Your Experience

    Presenting outcomes in this way will help to preserve the perceived value in a team’s service (and so protect a firm’s price point) even if overall costs (time-inputs) have been reduced. This conundrum of proving value when experience or service models allow a lawyer to provide advice quickly is neatly captured in the story told about an impromptu portrait-sitter complaining about the price asked by Picasso for a quickly produced sketch. Though delighted with the result, she challenged the cost given he produced it in minutes. He is said to have replied: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

    The intangible nature of experience or market insights and the value they afford a client, perhaps in helping to achieve a more efficient negotiation and so quicker market access for the joint venture identified above, can be a challenge, especially when a client is deciding to trust their business to a lawyer for the first time and so hasn’t experienced (and valued) their insights on previous matters.  

    Traditionally firms have relied on providing lengthy credentials lists as a proxy. But as firms adopt more advanced data strategies, lawyers will be able to play back to clients a more compelling analysis of how they have seen similar matters unfold given the counterparties involved, detailing market practice and expected negotiation outcomes.

    For examples of the ways in which data-savvy private capital firms leverage deal data, with legal advisors increasingly interested in emulating their investor counterparts, this recent LSSO webinar – Drive Your Law Firm’s Business Development Like a Private Equity Firm presented by Intapp (2023 Feb 22) – may be of interest.

    As CMOs continue to invest in more advanced skills development and new roles to give their teams the edge, value-engineering ought to move up the agenda.

    Gemma Prescott is the Practice Group Leader for Marketing and Business Development at Intapp. Prior to joining Intapp, Prescott was Head of Business Development at the multi-national law firm Allen & Overy, initially for the Global Litigation practice and then for the Advanced Delivery and Solutions practice, which consisted of legal technology, consulting, and alternative resourcing.

  • March 22, 2023 2:20 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Authors: Heather Morse, Chief Business Development Officer, McGlinchey Stafford
    Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter & 
    Nancy Myrland, President, Myrland Marketing & Social Media
    Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter

    It’s here. The AI that could read and analyze can now analyze and write. So, what is ChatGPT and how can legal marketing and business development professionals utilize it? We asked ChatGPT exactly that.

    What exactly is ChatGPT?

    ChatGPT Answer:
    ChatGPT is a cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology that uses machine learning (ML) to generate natural language responses to user input. At its core, ChatGPT is built on top of the powerful GPT (Generative Pretrained Transformer) architecture, which has been trained on a massive corpus of text data. This training data includes everything from books and articles to social media posts and conversations, providing the model with a broad range of knowledge and context to draw upon. When a user inputs a message or question, ChatGPT processes that text and generates a response using its knowledge of language and context. The model's response is generated based on a number of factors, including the user's previous messages, the topic of conversation, and the overall style and tone of the conversation. One of the key benefits of ChatGPT is its ability to learn from previous interactions with users. The model's training data is constantly updated with new examples of human language use, allowing it to improve.

    How can ChatGPT be used by the legal marketing and business development community?

    ChatGPT Answer:
    As a large language model trained by OpenAI, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the legal marketing and business development community in a multitude of functions:

    • Content Creation. One of the most significant benefits of ChatGPT for legal marketing is its ability to generate high-quality content. With its advanced language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can create blog posts, website copy, social media posts, RFP responses, and other types of content with ease and within seconds (and grammatically correct!).
    • SEO Optimization. ChatGPT can also be used to optimize a law firm's website for search engine rankings. By analyzing search engine data and understanding the latest trends in SEO, ChatGPT can provide recommendations on how to optimize a law firm's website for search engine rankings. This can include optimizing keywords, creating backlinks, and improving website structure.
    • Market Research. ChatGPT can be used to conduct market research for law firms. By analyzing data from social media, online reviews, and other sources, ChatGPT can provide insights into the needs and preferences of the law firm's target audience. This information can be used to develop marketing strategies that are tailored to the needs of the target audience.
    • Predictive Analytics. ChatGPT can be used for predictive analytics, which can help law firms anticipate future trends in the legal industry. By analyzing data from a variety of sources, ChatGPT can predict changes in the legal landscape and help law firms prepare for them. This can include changes in legislation, emerging trends, and other factors that could impact the legal industry.

    How does a legal marketer explain ChatGPT to a lawyer?

    ChatGPT Answer:
    Legal marketing professionals can explain ChatGPT to lawyers as a tool that utilizes artificial intelligence and natural language processing to assist with various tasks, such as drafting legal documents, conducting legal research, and analyzing data. ChatGPT, or chatbot technology, can be thought of as a virtual assistant that can communicate with users in a natural, conversational tone. Lawyers can interact with the ChatGPT system by asking questions or making requests, and the technology will provide responses or take actions based on the input it receives. Additionally, ChatGPT can help lawyers streamline their workflow and increase productivity. For instance, the technology can be used to draft routine legal documents, such as contracts or pleadings, by analyzing similar documents and using machine learning algorithms to generate custom drafts based on specific inputs.

    If we can convey nothing else, at this point in time, ChatGPT provides a great starting point in creating material but should not be used or trusted as final content, particularly in the legal profession. In writing this article, the responses to our questions were often circular and repetitive, requiring editing, but nonetheless saved us hours in researching and preparing a first draft.

    As time goes by, this will change as ChatGPT continues to become smarter and more like "us" as we train it in the way “we” think as an industry as well as individuals. But just like all things technology, there is more coming.

    Not to be left out, Google and Microsoft are developing their own AI-driven natural language processing tools—Google Bard and Edge GPT—both of which have the potential to be smarter alternatives to ChatGPT as they are tied into the search engines.

    In conclusion, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for legal marketers looking to streamline their workflows, generate new ideas, and engage with audiences more effectively. By leveraging the power of AI, legal marketers can create more compelling content, reach a wider audience, and ultimately drive more business for their firms.

  • January 26, 2023 9:44 AM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Silvia Coulter, Principal, LawVision | LSSO Co-Founder & Advisory Board Co-Chair

    Not too long ago, I was speaking with a legal salesperson who told me their law firm opened an office in a new U.S. jurisdiction and there was profound angst as to whether the firm would be able to attract quality talent as well as significant clients.

    Six months later, that angst was gone. In fact, the new office had quickly secured millions of dollars in new business.

    How did this happen?

    Three key factors contributed greatly to these results.

    Key Factor No. 1: The firm had a seasoned salesperson who knew not only how to get in a client’s door but also how to ask for business. Coached—and often accompanied—by this sales professional, firm partners enjoyed a higher rate of securing meetings with prospective clients and in securing new business. Sales knowledge is critical to effectively compete today. Firms with leadership who embrace hiring a client-facing salesperson are reaping the benefits (aka your clients).

    Key Factor No. 2: Despite the drumbeat heard during numerous in-house counsel panels and in numerous industry thought leadership articles and in advice proven out time and again from experienced consultants, many law firm partners stay in their comfort zone and don’t reach out to nurture client relationships. This is particularly true for clients with whom lawyers have no active mandates. Again and again, clients volunteer feedback that partners do not proactively visit them, do not ask or know about their strategic priorities, and do not anticipate their legal needs. If a firm isn’t regularly engaged in meaningful dialogue with their clients—more than just post-matter/once-a-year surveys—then the door is wide open for competitors to nab the next matter or the entire client relationship, no matter the tenure of the legacy firm. Attention builds relationships and relationships get business. It’s that simple.

    Key Factor No. 3: Connection is critical. No, it’s not easy to actively engage with a large group of contacts and clients on a regular basis. But developing a strategic approach—experts say a good rule of thumb is 50 individuals per quarter—can help make the task less daunting while also exponentially increasing the odds of winning new clients and/or new business from current clients. This is particularly true during economic downturns when many people go into self-preservation mode and forget to reach out to contacts and clients who are also experiencing a difficult time. Relationships matter. Firms that don’t encourage and support partners in dedicated outreach efforts are warming up their clients for their competitors.

    A recent article reminded us “studies suggest that, depending on the industry you are in, acquiring a new customer can cost five to seven times more than retaining an old one.” Yet, I am constantly amazed at the opportunities lost by incumbent firms when there are relatively simple solutions to competitor-proofing client relationships.

    Savvy—successful—firms will be the ones to employ these straight-forward key factors.

    Silvia L. Coulter chairs the firm’s Client Development & Growth Practice.  Silvia’s clients rely on her strategic account/key client expertise to help them retain and grow existing clients and to develop new business.  She may be reached at

  • December 15, 2022 12:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: David G. Kamien, CEO & Founder, Mind-Alliance & SSSME Founding Board Member*

    BD is a team sport. But for many law firms, the complexity of BD, marketing, and competitive intelligence (CI) efforts, combined with the division of labor between teams, leads to communication and coordination issues. It has become more difficult to coordinate the responses of different parts of the firm to business and legal environment developments. And the results can be damaging: slow and poor responses cause firms to miss out on winnable revenue growth opportunities.

    Clearly, better integration, coordination, and synchronization of teams across the firm’s various departments and groups are critical. It’s time for firms to harmonize cross-team business processes to spot cross-selling and new client opportunities earlier, win a higher percentage of requests for proposals, and conduct more intelligent BD targeting and annual planning.

    BD and marketing leaders from several leading law firms are now committed to synchronizing the BD, marketing, research, and practice groups as well as the industry teams they support. Their goal is to better orchestrate several processes, including:

    • Annual/quarterly BD planning
    • Strategic account marketing
    • Current awareness monitoring
    • Competitive intelligence profiling
    • Client alert writing
    • Spotting BD opportunities
    • Responding to RFPs

    In 2023, some of these leaders will launch a cross-functional BD Coordination Working Group to orchestrate processes, harmonize data definitions, and integrate systems to make BD a well-orchestrated, socio-technical system.

    The Group will start by studying the current state of BD-related processes, and analyzing issues relating to data, information sharing, collaboration, knowledge management, and learning. The leaders will examine how work and information need to flow better to achieve results more efficiently. They will catalog who monitors which regulatory change events, and who produces client alerts and BD opportunity alerts for partners. They will assess whether partners have shared situation awareness and understanding of external events and internal client-related activities. And they will study how and when CI reports, target lists, and profiles are produced, as well as whether business intelligence dashboards, CI profiles, and automated alerts are helpful.

    In addition, they will add a core innovation — documented plays in a shared playbook — to their current capability set. The playbook will govern the response of each cross-functional team to events and specify the communication and information handoffs between groups to synchronize efforts. These plays will ensure that all those involved understand how their roles, goals, tasks, decisions, and information needs are interrelated.

    Graphic summaries such as information sharing plans, program evaluation review technique (PERT) diagrams, and Gantt charts can help integrate each team’s plans and procedures. Teams will gain a deeper understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities, and managers will be able to connect the dots across functions and improve coordination to impact overall results positively.

    At the same time, new employees will quickly become productive rather than spend several months understanding the organization’s information sharing wiring diagram only to take the knowledge with them when they leave.

    Helping marketing, BD and research teams interact in an event-driven way will lead to faster and better decisions and far more efficient production of valuable knowledge. Firms that continue to coordinate work via email will be at a competitive disadvantage in 2023.

    Mind-Alliance is well-positioned to help law firms synchronize and coordinate BD processes. For 17 years, we’ve used our patented system to map out the flow of information between organizations. Our method models the tasks of members and the information they need to receive and send, identifies issues, and recommends improvements. Several leading law firms are leveraging our MindPeer platform to compile client-profile CI reports in seconds with data from internal and external sources. It’s going to be a great 2023 for some smart BD leaders!

    Download this post as a file

    Members: Log in for Mind-Alliance's recent whitepaper MindPeer: Power Business Development Results with Collaborative Intelligence Software under Industry Resources

    *LSSO is privileged to have access to – and be supported by – numerous legal sales and service subject matter experts (SSSMEs). As a benefit to our members and the legal community at large, we have invited several of these industry-leading professionals to band together as a SSSME Board, which will regularly offer relevant and timely news, trends, strategies, and thought leadership on best practices as well as practical examples of what works…and what doesn’t.

  • December 15, 2022 12:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Ian Stewart, Vice President of Sales, Nexl & SSSME Founding Board Member*

    Sales strategy works and revenue follows

    Revenue growth may be fortuitous, but it’s far more consistent, predictable, and efficient if strategy takes the lead. As we wind down 2022, which is another way of saying wind up 2023, the firms who will lead in coming years on client experience, client feedback, employee retention, and especially on revenue growth will prioritize sales strategy now.

    It makes intuitive sense – the single biggest lever that firms can pull today to impact revenue is enabling a sales strategy. Many firms have done well on top line growth through boom times, but competitive pressures are increasing, and the prospect of economic turmoil necessitates innovation. Yesterday’s growth drivers won’t propel tomorrow’s revenue expansion.

    Still not convinced? Read on.

    Why you should consider implementing a sales strategy for 2023

    Law firms today face incredible pressures from consolidation, technological advancement, and economic forces that are all part of a new post-pandemic reality. In advising many of the best firms in the world, we consistently hear the following: books of business are more portable than ever, general counsel turnover and partner retirement present significant challenge to revenue growth and retention, the market for talent is still wildly tight and the expectations for recession are high. Moreover, employee burn out is prevalent.

    I’m not suggesting that sales strategy can solve any of these. But I am proposing that sales strategy can help.

    Sales strategy directs and focuses actions to defined goals. A well-planned sales strategy that includes measurable objectives (targets) and, in an ideal world, a codified sales process (think Miller Heiman or Sandler), qualification methodology (think BANT or MEDDICC), and the people and platform (Revenue Operations or CRM) to support it moves revenue generation and revenue forecasting from random chance to a predictable, repeatable, scalable process – from disorder to order. In other words, it’s a map for the road ahead. Notably, it’s a map that is proven to yield success. When sales strategy is in place, time is spent proactively executing on a defined plan rather than continuously repeating the same actions, meetings, and conversations ad nauseum.

    To that end, think back to your childhood. For those of us who have come of age watching Looney Tunes, we’re familiar with the often recycled ‘looping map’ gag, in which Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny traverse a map with swirling loops and crisscrossing paths as they inefficiently move from one point to another. In the same way that even a broken clock is right twice a day, our cartoon friends do eventually make it to their destination. But wouldn’t it have been more efficient to navigate a straight line? Unfortunately, for those of us who have spent time working without a clearly defined strategy, this may feel familiarly painful and elicit cries of frustration as opposed to belly-aching laughter. To put it another way, strategy is the course you’ll chart and operating without one has high opportunity costs and a cascade of subpar or adverse outcomes. By implementing a sales strategy, firms can gain a competitive advantage, focus on what matters most, institutionalize relationships, and maximize productivity among those participating in business development (BD) and sales efforts.

    How are firms implementing sales strategy today?

    At the most forward-thinking firms, they’re focusing on Revenue Operations and are reimaging the growth structure of the firm from the ground up through that lens. They’re aligning BD and Marketing under a single leader, some of whom are even referencing the word ‘sales’ outright in their title. They’re hiring sales executives, sales coaches, account managers…and aligning all of them into true account teams. They’re prioritizing an open, transparent culture and investing in technology and people to support these efforts. One major international firm we work with is even restructuring the firm’s revenue generating functions under a Chief Revenue Officer more akin to a technology company. None of this would have been imaginable at a law firm 25 years ago. While this is exciting, it represents only a small fraction of forward-thinking firms who are at the vanguard of a new era. What about the majority? And where to start when the firm hasn’t prioritized this before? Most firms aren’t implementing codified sales process and qualification methodologies (yet!), but they are recognizing some need to shift more resources to BD for 2023. BD leaders are picking a few things they can focus on to impact revenue.

    Where to start

    Firms are investing in technology (platform), people, and process in recognition of the shifting landscape. But not uniformly and only in ways that match their position on the sales maturity curve. Many firms face internal resistance and/or resource constraints. I sat with the Head of BD at one of the largest firms in the world recently and asked them what their dream state for the firm is. They responded that they want to see trained account managers and account executives embedded within industry-focused groups to maximize opportunities through deep industry acumen and sales expertise. Then immediately retorted that the firm is simply not there! So instead, they’re starting with something they can do now. They’re focusing on creating measurable growth objectives for their 10 top clients and creating a process in which their lawyers (seller-doers) and BD/Marketing teams can align in mini account teams at regular intervals with shared visibility and transparency to maximize cross-sell potential. Cue the applause!

    Many firms are starting smaller with a recognition that they can focus well and execute on a few key objectives. Some clients of ours are working with us to create and execute on objectives (targets) around sector/industry expansion, cross-selling, key client programs, and – with a bit of longer vision – on succession planning and institutionalizing relationships. All of these allow for better client experience and revenue growth, and these straightforward objectives and plans lead to less burnout and frustration for those involved.

    While I—a self-professed Sales Evangelist—hope that every firm will eventually entrench a highly trained sales function within industry-focused groups and deploy a sales process, I recognize that isn’t likely to occur industrywide overnight. There’s no need to boil the ocean for most firms. Start with the client objectives for next year and then build your three Ps (people, process, and platform) over time to support them.

    How to scale overtime

    You likely can’t hire, build, or buy your way into a perfect state overnight. But you can take steps to incrementally make progress.

    Example: One of our clients—a leading globally recognized IP firm focused on the telecom, life-sciences, and oil/gas industries—pioneered a new approach to client and account management. The firm began working with us to gain basic relationship insights and manage a pipeline without the need for manual data entry. Over time, they gradually grew their internal sales motion and scaled the use of our proprietary platform to support a new, targeted commercial team (people). This ‘client satisfaction’ (C-SAT) team is tasked with managing and supporting client and referral relationships as well as driving growth strategies through the firm (process). It has become a critical business function, allowing the firm to grow significantly in the last few years while obtaining key accolades and client success. They didn’t start by boiling the ocean. They started with an objective and intentionally scaled the platform, people, and process around it.

    Another example I can offer is closer to home. When I joined Nexl 15 months ago as the first institutional sales leader, I was tasked with helping move our organization from founder-led growth to a scalable sales organization operating on six continents. As a modern technology organization experiencing rapid growth and transformation, we needed to push on all three 3Ps simultaneously.

    • Platform: We were fortunate that we could be our own customers and leverage our proprietary no-data-entry CRM and Revenue Operations Platform as the basis for collaboration, growth, and knowledge within our organization to achieve the same benefits we deliver our law firm clients.
    • Process: We started by creating annual strategic objectives, regional targets, and business plans in the objective tracking section of our platform. We use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals, OKR (Objectives and Key Results) frameworks, and pipeline targets ($) to establish our focus for the year and align our teams. We then measure the progress over time, leverage the reporting and opportunity tracking functionality, and assign tasks within the platform accordingly to ensure we collaborate, follow through, and outperform while operating as ‘one firm.’
    • People: We’ve used this structure to hire globally in a competitive landscape to the tune of tripling our team size and to embed our platform with 100+ new law firm clients. (We added new law firm clients and employees on six continents in under 12 months.) The tight labor market in 2022 meant we needed to be incredibly focused and aligned across teams, time zones, and offices as we only wanted to attract and hire top-tier talent. Once hired, we needed to have the right systems in place to ensure success and we were able to refer to the strategic objectives and targets to hold ourselves accountable. New hires had the same clear picture of what our goals were on Day One as our most tenured employees, enabling us to collaborate effectively with purpose and speed.

    Key takeaways

    Just start. Start wherever you are. But start with your clients in mind. Create objectives and targets for next year with them in mind. Make your targets measurable and realistic. Implement the 3 Ps to support them. Scale overtime. Perfection is often the obstacle of progress. And don’t forget to have fun!

    Download Nexl's recent whitepaper Revenue Operations for Law Firms: Why Some Law Firms Realize Their Potential (And Some Don't)

    *LSSO is privileged to have access to – and be supported by – numerous legal sales and service subject matter experts (SSSMEs). As a benefit to our members and the legal community at large, we have invited several of these industry-leading professionals to band together as a SSSME Board, which will regularly offer relevant and timely news, trends, strategies, and thought leadership on best practices as well as practical examples of what works…and what doesn’t.

  • November 17, 2022 12:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Authors: LSSO Editorial Board Member Dave Whiteside​, Director, Client Growth & Success, CLIENTSFirst Consulting with Guest Contributor Chris Fritsch, CRM Success Consultant and Founder, CLIENTSFirst Consulting

    Over the more than 15 years we have spent working together with hundreds of top law firms on marketing technology selection and success, we have seen a number of changes, developments, and trends in the industry. This experience as trusted advisors has allowed us to understand, early on, some of the primary challenges firms frequently face. And while we don't have a proverbial crystal ball, sometimes this experience can help us to predict what may be on the horizon.

    Within the broader legal industry, we frequently find that many smaller and mid-size firms are facing unique issues of their own. And while dealing with many of the same challenges as their larger counterparts, they are being forced to do so with more constrained budgets as well as limited staffing and resources. As a result, we thought it might be helpful to share some of the issues and uncertainties that smaller and mid-size firms have been facing–and the ones they are likely to face in 2023–along with some information, ideas, and best practices to help navigate them.

    1. The Way We Work Is Changing…So Outsourcing Is Increasing

    During the Great Resignation, many people changed jobs, and many are still working from home or with a hybrid schedule. Dealing with the ‘revolving door’ on staffing makes it difficult to hire, train, and manage teams. Plus, trying to supervise staff who are working hybrid or at home adds a special set of issues. Firms are also struggling to fill positions and find quality workers. When they do, the compensation and benefits expectations are higher than ever. And it seems unlikely that these changes are going away anytime soon.

    For small- and mid-sized firms, in the future, the already-tight market for marketing technology, data quality, and business development roles may tighten further, while competition with larger firms for top talent may intensify. Additionally, trying to focusing on too many non-core capabilities and roles with limited resources can take focus from other more strategic priorities.

    For more than a decade, larger firms have been leveraging outsourcing to help them fill gaps in their talent pool. In recent years, more firms than ever have turned to outsourcing as a cost-effective and time-efficient hiring solution that allows them the flexibility to source the right resources when they need them at reasonable rates.

    Indeed, we see more clients reaching out to us for outsourced support for roles such as CRM management, eMarketing support, and data stewarding, and that trend continues to escalate.

    Smaller firms can also consider tapping into these resources, which can also minimize the need for constant supervision and allow them the flexibility to purchase only the number of hours they need rather than hiring full-time staff. Delegating some of these tasks to outside experts who can do them more time-efficiently and cost-efficiently can help smaller firm get the talent they need while freeing up the marketing and business development teams to support the lawyers.

    2. Digital-First Will Continue…So the Right Technology Will Be Critical

    Because in-person networking and business development have been slow to return to pre-pandemic levels and more people now enjoy the convenience of consuming content and learning through webinars and podcasts, law firms have had to adjust to a digital-first marketing strategy, another trend that that is likely to continue.

    As a result, having the right technology will be critical to compete for business. This is why firms without essential MarTech infrastructure have been looking to acquire CRM and related, and integrated, systems. It’s also why we are seeing a significant rise in firms replacing their older CRM and other systems and acquiring new integrated marketing platforms.

    Some of these firms are moving to the cloud to reduce the overhead and maintenance associated with on-premise software. Others want more sophisticated business development tools like pipelines, dashboards, and integrated eMarketing software to support and track marketing and business development efforts. (If you need help selecting the right CRM, check out our guide: Steps to select the right CRM for your law firm.)

    It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all technology for law firms. Some of the systems designed for larger law firms may fall flat or fail in a smaller or mid-size firm due to the level of required resources. Still others are often outside the reach of many smaller due to the high costs of software and professional services required for implementation and integrations.

    As a result, smaller and mid-size firms should adopt technology designed to meet their unique needs, requirements…and budgets. The ideal platform should be easy to use; minimize attorney training, time, and effort; require reduced resources; and improve and enhance data quality. (If you need help with system selection, don't do it alone. Reach out to colleagues, providers or experienced subject matter experts for assistance.)

    3. Big, Bad Data Deluge…So Data Quality Will Be Essential

    More and more data is pouring in from every firm system, and keeping up with it can seem next to impossible. In fact, even before the pandemic, the amount of available information was exponentially increasing–and respected researchers were saying that up to 30% of this data degraded each year without regular maintenance and ongoing dedicated resources. Due to the changes caused by the pandemic, that number is likely pushing 50% as people continue to work from home and change companies, roles, and locations. As a result, most CRM and eMarketing systems are filled with incorrect, incomplete, dated, and duplicated records.

    It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your staff or technology, if you have bad data, you will have challenges communicating with your key constituencies. Your lawyers may spend a lot of time writing and speaking and doing webinars and podcasts, but if their marketing messages are not targeted to the broadest audience, that (billable) time will be wasted. Additionally, if your event invitations don’t reach the right recipients, attendance can suffer and getting real return on investment (ROI) can be challenging.

    This means it’s as important to invest in your data quality as it is to invest in software and staff. But smaller and mid-size firms may not have the headcount or budget to deal with the data deluge. Fortunately, they now have other options, such as outsourcing, to get the help they need. The good news is that small to mid-sized firms that do invest in data quality will have an advantage over larger–or really any size–firms that do not and will have a strategic advantage in the current and future competitive legal market.

    4. A Recession May Be on the Horizon…So Planning Ahead Will Be Vital

    Is a recession coming? Is it already here? Messages are mixed. Many big tech companies are having mass layoffs in an effort to finally focus on profitability over rapid growth. One benefit for law firms may be that there could be an increasing pool of qualified candidates to tap into. However, it could also be an early warning sign for layoffs in our industry.

    So, how can marketing and business development departments in smaller and mid-size firms prepare for a potential recession? They should start by making strategic hiring decisions for essential positions that directly support the attorneys’ marketing and business development efforts and consider outsourcing for other functional non-core areas, if needed. This can reduce staffing costs while providing added flexibility and allowing right-sizing their staff.

    5. One More Trend: Smarter Small and Mid-size Firms Will Reach Out for Help

    While the future may seem uncertain as so many trends are converging at once, addressing the impact of these trends provides an opportunity for firms of all sizes to be more strategic, efficient, and effective in a competitive market. Fortunately, smaller and mid-size firms don't have to navigate these issues alone. They have the benefit of a supportive industry where they can reach out to colleagues, providers or experienced subject matter experts for assistance. And if they move quickly to pivot and prepare, they may find that they can gain a real completive advantage.

  • October 05, 2022 7:50 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Steve Bell, an Affiliate Consultant with LawVision, as a follow up to September's The Dollars are in the Details.


    Throughout (this series), as well as in the list below, we have described key elements of a SAM-Legal strategy. No doubt, an engaged team leader can conjure ideas in addition to the categories we mention below. From this list, each SAM-Legal team leader will develop a plan that is highly tailored and specific to her or his SAM-Legal client.

    Here is a list of expenditures commonly encountered in SAM-Legal programs.

    • Research — Can the preliminary and continuing research necessary to mount a SAM-Legal initiative be accommodated by in-house support teams who presumably already have access to tools such as research resources, data compilation, and client industry-specific publications (digital and hard copy)? If not, who will conduct these activities and acquire these resources? The firm’s information resources and/or business development professionals will know how to acquire and budget for these research tools.
    • Training — As we discussed in an earlier section, lawyers and other professionals at law firms don’t necessarily arrive “out of the box” with the proper credentials and training to lead and participate in SAM-Legal initiatives. Firms should anticipate the costs associated with acquiring the necessary lead-off and continuing training requirements for each SAM-Legal team. What will be the source of this training and what will its cost be?
    • Travel to the client — No SAM-Legal effort should be undertaken absent consultation and collaboration with the client. Although much communication with clients will occur over the telephone or virtually, a face-to-face meeting with the client(s) is the most effective, and much preferred. How many team members will attend? How much will the kickoff client visit cost? For this category, consider type of transportation, lodging, and meals (or other entertainment). Later in the development of the SAM-Legal team strategy, as we have suggested, it may be appropriate for team members, perhaps the entire core team, to spend time on-site with the client(s) — another category requiring potentially sizeable budget.
    • Team-planning travel — As we have suggested, it is critical that at least the core client team get together in person at the kickoff, and annually or more thereafter, to research and prepare for the years-long campaign ahead. As with client-related travel, the costs related to gatherings of teams of five or more lawyers and support professionals may be material if they are located in different jurisdictions. In addition to expenses for ground transportation, airfare or train fare, lodging, and firm meals, consider a team-building exercise that might involve an off-campus event such as an industry colloquium, a major sports or entertainment event, or a firm retreat. If your law firm is anything like the ones we have encountered, a team gathering will be capped off with celebration at the hotel restaurant and bar. Remember to include that expenditure in the budget, as well.
    • Consultants — It certainly is possible for a SAM-Legal team to conduct its business totally in-house, particularly if the law firm is well-endowed with the necessary support professionals who can design, lead, and facilitate team meetings; conduct business and competitive research and analysis; apply team-motivational techniques; provide strategic, leadership, sales, and account management training; advise on approach and follow-up strategies; craft proposals and pitches; create annual reports for the team; provide industry insights; and more. If a firm does not have requisite support resources to handle these potential needs, consider which consultants best fit the need, and build into the budget the necessary consultant fees.
    • Time is money — So far, we have spoken about out-of-pocket costs, but anyone who has worked at a law firm knows that time is money. In parallel with all of the out-of-pocket calculations described above, consider the time commitment and the concomitant cost of the hours that will be required to implement the program. Start with the number of hours available. Perhaps the SAM-Legal team leader will be able to devote the lion’s share of her or his hours to launching and operating the program. That may not be the same for all team members. Early in the planning and preparation stage, it’s important to make a candid assessment of the available client development hours for all the lawyers and professional staff who will be involved. Can the envisioned program be accomplished in the available time? If not, can firm leadership make available the additional hours that will be required, and if not, how will the SAM-Legal program be adapted or right-sized to accommodate the hours that are available?
    • And what about client travel to the law firm? If that is to occur, who will pick up the tab? If the law firm opts to pay for client travel, what is the estimated cost?

      Finally, in the Travel to Client category, we strongly recommend at least an annual service review. The client is important to the future of the firm; therefore, client service reviews should include in-person participation of senior firm leadership, up to and including the firm chair.

      For all of these travel projections, a firm’s travel department or travel provider can help to estimate and shape many of these costs. The point here is that the recommended amount of travel, on at least three occasions during the year, is a material out-of-pocket budget consideration that must be estimated and built into the SAM-Legal budget plan.

    • Just as funding for SAM-Legal is important, the amount of time that can be contributed is an extraordinarily important consideration, particularly given the fact that lawyer time is part of the profit calculation of any firm, and also that the use of client development hours is a precious commodity at performance-evaluation and compensation-adjustment season. Each team member’s investment of time had better be worth it to the firm, firm leadership, and each team member.

      The time and effort required to prepare accurate and reasonable revenue and out-of-pocket budgets for a SAM-Legal exercise will go to waste if the investment is not actually expended wisely. Don’t go through the trouble of preparing a budget unless the plan is to follow it rigorously and use it fully. Spending money can be difficult for those who are footing the bill. However, there also is great prescience in the old saw: “It takes money to make money.” If you budget it, spend it, and spend it wisely with an eye always on creating results that benefit the firm and the client.


    Today’s installment—the last in this series of edited excerpts from SAM-Legal: Turning Key Clients into Strategic Accounts / A Guide to Law Firm Strategic Account Management (© 2021 LawVision, Inc.) by Steven M. Bell & Silvia L. Coulter—defines what is meant by the tested truism: It takes money to make money.

  • September 14, 2022 1:53 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Contributed by Friend of LSSO Steve Bell, an Affiliate Consultant with LawVision, as a follow up to August's At the Expense of Marketing & Sales: Building a Better Budget.

    While the budget itself (anticipated revenue, anticipated expenses, and anticipated Return on Investment) is critically important, so is the timing. Law firms operate on strict annual calendars. After weeks, and sometimes months, of preparation, the budget — once approved by the owners — is fairly set in stone. Just try, eight months into the budget year, to acquire funds for an unplanned sponsorship, client entertainment, or marketing campaign. It’s not impossible, just more difficult than it needs to be if proper planning and preparation are well thought through at the outset, in parallel with the firm’s overall budget. This is such an important consideration, in fact, that the launch of Strategic Account Management (SAM)-Legal initiatives would be best served, if at all possible, synchronized with the firm’s overall budget cycle.

    Note that in this budget discussion, we are not talking about the expenditures that can be billed to the client and which are necessary to deliver outstanding client service. We’re referring to the primarily non-chargeable expenditures that the firm will invest to grow future revenue and profit.

    One important consideration for SAM-Legal teams is to consider the sources of budget for the initiative. Start with the nature and extent of this investment funding. Under optimum conditions, the firm will establish a centralized budget for each SAM-Legal team. Absent the establishment of such discrete budgets, depending on the firm, the sources can vary widely.

    Some firms provide each lawyer a set annual amount to undertake client development, of which SAM-Legal activities would be a subset. In such instances, the lawyers participating in the SAM-Legal initiative must be willing to invest some of their allocations to specific SAM-Legal clients. Naturally, these lawyers will want to know, in advance, how much of their allocations will be required, and they will want to balance that investment against their other non-SAM-Legal client development aspirations for the year.

    Other firms centralize client development budgets in the hands of practice group, sector, office, or regional leaders. These leaders must accomplish the problematic task of balancing existing approved funding with requests that are many multiples of the amount available. For a multidisciplinary, multisector, or multi-geographical SAM-Legal team, the team leader may be “bargaining” with several budget overseers. All the more reason for SAM-Legal team members to have an extraordinary understanding of the anticipated costs and return.

    Still other firms centralize the budgets that will fuel a SAM-Legal initiative at the functional-department level – marketing, business development, Information Services, Information Technology, and so forth. In such instances, the SAM-Legal team leader will need to explain, justify, and negotiate with staff department leaders (and the partners to whom the staff leaders report) to include and advocate for sufficient financial resources in the functional budgets.

    Fortunately, those who will be responsible for SAM-Legal initiatives, more than likely, are veterans at their firm and are aware of the intricacies of the logistics required to generate budget. Still, as SAM-Legal probably is a new strategic initiative, at least at most firms, it may take a bit more work than does year-over-year budget acquisition efforts. Leaders just need to be prepared for the amount of work and detail that will be required.

    We recommend that the budget process begin with an estimate of the return that will be generated by each of three levels of return on investment: low, moderate, and aggressive. It is, of course, not possible to accurately predict future revenue, but research has shown that SAM-Legal teams in other industries, and now some early feedback from legal, have found that in the course of a diligently applied, multi-year, disciplined strategic account strategy, first year returns will be material but modest, perhaps 5 percent (but can be more). As the effort builds year over year, incremental annual returns of 10 percent or more can reasonably be anticipated.

    Given the starting benchmark, calculate what a 5 percent and then a 10 percent increase will generate in terms of outside revenue and profit. We have found that law firm financial departments are expert at inputting hypotheses and then creating and modeling reasonable, achievable revenue and profit expectations along these lines. Over time, firms report upwards of 20% year-over-year growth on these strategic clients. With this potential return in hand, start the exercise of determining “budget” to get there.

    Next Installment: So, what is a SAM-Legal initiative going to cost?


    Adapted with permission from SAM-Legal: Turning Key Clients into Strategic Accounts / A Guide to Law Firm Strategic Account Management (© 2021 LawVision, Inc.) by Steven M. Bell & Silvia L. Coulter.

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