I used to teach a seminar on marketing litigation support within your law firm or corporate legal department. Over the past few years, this topic has come up a few times on the dynamic custom learning plans that I develop for individuals. A large part of being able to market your in-house services is to develop your sales skills. Here are 6 easy steps to follow for success:
1. Research the Customer
2. Deepen Your Understanding
3. Discover Where Your Customer Wants to Be
4. Decide Whether You Can Actually Help
5. Present Your Offering as a Solution
6. Ask for the Next Step
These steps are found in some shape or form in many sales training materials but I found them here. I highly recommend reading the article and checking out the book mentioned. Now, let’s discuss how to apply these steps to litigation support and/or e-discovery:
1. Know Your Customer. In a law firm, your customers are the attorneys and paralegals and the firm’s clients. In a corporation and government agency, your customers are the attorneys and paralegals plus any business or non-legal staff involved with the litigation project. This could include the IT department if they are functioning separately from litigation support/ e-discovery. Find out what their needs are and what is on their “wish list” when it comes to your services and technology options. Identify the folks who have a genuine interest in the technology and project management methodology and position them to be your advocates when you are not around. A good way to start your research is to send out a survey (no more than 7 questions) to gather information.
2. & 3. Be the Consultant. Review and draw conclusions from your survey results. Talk to your boss about the future of your department and the long range budget plans to give you an idea of what’s to come. You’ll need a little bit of HOPE to carry with you as you meet with your advocates to listen to their “wish list” and ideas. Ask open ended questions and share a little of the hope of what’s coming later.
4. Do NOT Over Promise! And risk under-delivering later… One of the challenges you may run into with your organization is that you don’t have a long range plan. And there is nothing to really look forward to because the overall strategy is to REACT then take action. If your firm buys software or technology based on client suggestions, then I suggest asking if you can talk to a few of your counter-parts at some of the firm’s key clients to gain a sense of where they are heading. Then try to map out a plan for how you can support them long range. If you do have a long range outlook and plan for technology and service improvements, then fantastic!
5. Present Your Team As the Solution. Remember, you’re on THEIR team, too. You and your litigation support team are PARTNERING with the customer to support their litigation strategy. Draft a simple and short PowerPoint presentation that outlines your services, technology available, team members and function as a department within your organization. If you have enough people on your team, throw in a simple organizational chart. Add lots of pictures so that your customers will recognize you in the elevator. Include a simplified typical project intake and workflow model in your presentation. Save your presentation as a PDF and e-mail it to your advocates. Ask for their feedback. Make revisions if necessary. Request 15 minutes at the next litigation department meeting (to present in front of the attorneys and paralegals). Do this every 6 months or so.
6. Close the Deal. Here’s where marketing your litigation support team differs from simply selling a solution. You are a part of the organization. Sales gurus call this “inside sales.” You are marketing to “warm leads.” Part of the challenge over the years in marketing litigation support has been to make sure that your attorneys and paralegals not only know that you EXIST but what you exist FOR and HOW you can HELP them. When I was in the firm, I called it “hall surfing” … I would literally surf the halls on the litigation floors at least once per week. It looked more like I was taking my coffee break on another floor but there was a method to my madness. I would carve out 20 minutes of my day to sit with a notepad and pen in the break room and speak to whoever walked in for coffee. Mid to late afternoon was a great time because most folks needed their jolt to make it to the end of the day. Sometimes, “hello” / “how are you?” would work and other days, it was more specific about how’s their case going? May I offer some assistance? These “breaks” might lead to impromptu meetings or conversations that would lead to influence, more technology advocates or basic trust necessary to successfully project manage their next big matter.
I hope these 6 steps help you to market your litigation technology solutions more effectively at your organization. Please let me know if you have questions. I am only an e-mail away :-)