“Having the right amount of money in the bank gives you what you long for, your Freedom!”
(Paraphrased) Kevin O’Leary – Shark Tank
I once had the pleasure of having lunch with Mr. Wonderful, a member of a five-person panel of investors in the show “Shark Tank.” It features the minds of many successful investors work.
Shark Tank & How Investments Work
The show is comprised of five investors (called Sharks) who come to the table with their own money. One by one, entrepreneurs pitch their business to the panel of Sharks and ask for an investment in return for an equity stake in their company. The Sharks then proceed to ask questions in the same way that a Venture Capital fund manager would to determine if they wish to offer an investment.
If the business has real merit, more than one Shark will become interested in the business. And, like a normal shark tank, when blood is in the water, the other Sharks swarm in to be fed. It’s not only educational, it’s entertaining, and our entire family sits down to watch it nearly every week.
In the case of Mr. Wonderful (who plays the villain on the show), he is the one shark who always demands that the entrepreneurs “show me the money!” His point, while often mistaken as a Shark Bite, is that numbers don’t lie. And if he were to invest his hard-earned cash into a business where the numbers are not supported, he’d be committing murder by killing his money. He happens to be my favorite shark.
Yes, there are times I wish he would deliver his message with a little more decorum, but hey, that’s what makes good TV.
The Merits of Making Good Use of TV
While this is not my main point, it is a very good teaching moment.
I hear so many attorneys tell me, “I’ve tried TV and it just doesn’t work” or “It’s too expensive.” Hogwash, it’s been my experience, time after time that TV done correctly works better than any other medium for attorneys.
If TV isn’t working for you, it’s because someone is doing it wrong. Either the messaging is off, or the market is off, and that’s what’s causing poor performance.
In addition, TV is not expensive. It has a Cost Per Lead and Cost Per Sale, just like how a website has Pay Per Click or Direct Mail. Attorneys view TV as expensive because the TV brokers and agencies tell potential advertisers that you must spend “X” dollars in said market to make a difference. That’s just not true.
However, what I want to focus on in this article is Mr. Wonderful’s statement that the salesperson should be the highest-paid person in all of the companies he owns.
Why You Need A Good Sales Team
When asked what is the one piece of data he understands about each of his companies, Mr. Wonderful answers: “Sales, I get sales reports for each and every company every two weeks and I review them diligently.”
Mr. Wonderful also contends that the CEO’s ability to sell, above all else, is what distinguishes a great business from a good one. I agree. Selling, hiring, training, and managing a sales team is vital to the success of all businesses.
Why Are Attorneys Hesitant About Sales?
But why then are attorneys oftentimes so hesitant to add a sales component to their firm? Why do so many attorneys recoil at the mention of the word “sales?” Naturally, I do not know for sure, but here’s my best guess. I think there are three issues at hand in law that cause many attorneys to turn up their noses at sales.
Lawyers lack experience in sales and business
Most attorneys (not all, but most) have never been exposed to a real sales environment. Most never sold insurance, real estate, Cutco Knives, or Kirby Vacuum cleaners, etc. Most have never worked in a call center or a collections agency. So most have never been exposed to the training, the discipline, and the benefits of a good sales machine.
Many attorneys confuse sales with a breach of ethics. Many believe that you cannot possibly sell without giving legal advice. I’d argue that you can’t sell effectively when you do give legal advice.
I find that the concept of fee sharing is a benefit and a curse for attorneys. Because they cannot fee share with non-attorneys, some owners use that as a selling point to anyone in their staff who is not an attorney but has a sales role. It can be used to justify the reason why they don’t have to compensate them based on performance.
But, for that very same reason, attorneys tend to either avoid sales teams altogether, or they have a difficult time attracting true super star sales people. They simply don’t pay them enough. To solve this problem, many owners will leave the selling to other attorneys so they can compensate based on revenue. But more often than not, the attorneys close at a much lower rate than a non-attorney salesperson closes.
Getting the right person to do the sales for your law firm
If you don’t have experience in sales, how can you see the value in having a sales team?
Here’s my suggestion. Look around at your daily life. Find the most successful professional service businesses in your town, including dental offices, chiropractors, or consumer law offices and mystery shop them.
Take note of what is said to you on the phone, how often they follow up, and what their sales process is like when you go through a consultation.
This is true of excellent dental offices, chiropractors, and high volume law firms (usually BK, Immigration or P.I.). You’ll notice that most, if not all, firms use well-trained sales professionals. In some cases they are licensed and in other cases they are not. But the key is, the staff is well trained and professional in everything they do.
Listen to the great sales professionals. They will not offer advice, but rather offer choices of a solution to solve your problem.
There’s an old saying: “the person doing the listening is the person doing the selling, and the person doing the talking is the person doing the buying.” If we avoid the talking, we’ll avoid giving advice.
Putting Value to Sales & Avoiding Mistakes
I realize that fee sharing is a real issue. Sometimes, we simply can’t do it.
But, there’s nothing that says we can’t create a bonus system that uses several factors that determine compensation. And the salesperson’s close rate can be one of those factors. If you already know your client value, you’ll be able to build a compensation package that supports the desired salary of a winner.
I knew a firm that employed a salesperson who sold over $2 Million in annual sales and compensated that sales person $40,000/year. A fair pay would probably be around four times of this. And even in the world outside of law, the compensation would have been twice that, if not more. They lost that salesperson, and unless they change their thinking, they’ll continue to lose good quality salespeople.
Here’s the bottom line. You are in the sales-driven, client-focused business. And until you do something to perfect your sales system, you will always be at the mercy of up and down market cycles, what many consider “seasonality,” and fluctuating cash flow that causes stress and keeps you from your dream.
Creating an Excellent Time Management System
Managing sales is important, but so is managing time. Make sure you are really getting things done by making it a point to write down set goals.
The first step to knowing how to manage time effectively is knowing how to schedule the workload that you need to get done.
- Do I have high-priority meetings today?
- Are there urgent decisions that must be made?
- What paperwork must be signed before the end of the day?
One of the most effective time management tools is to-do lists, which are weapons against distractions. They let you improve time management skills because you'll learn to say no to unimportant time wasters, deadlines that are not urgent, or any other distraction.
Some people with outdated management strategies believe that multitasking is always necessary to get things done. However, there will be no need for this if you efficiently delegate smaller tasks.
Through expert business consultancy, you can avoid interruptions, improve your management skills, and effectively manage your time better.
Prioritizing to Get Work Done
Effective time management techniques will prevent you from feeling distracted or overwhelmed during the workday. There are good time management tips on the web, but if you want to really learn how to manage your time, get someone who can take care of the business aspect of your firm. The most productive individuals are able to accomplish more because they know how to set aside or delegate not only non-priorities, but things that are better entrusted to others.
Prioritize business consultancy and, eventually, you will be able to manage work hours and quickly do what needs to be done. Effectively managing your law firm will allow you to be successful and your legal business to be more productive and profitable.
Remember that an effective manager is a successful manager, and accomplishing tasks is easier if you use your time wisely.
Communicate your concerns with good managers who have extensive experience with US law firm management and can help you make decisions wisely. Start by scheduling a consultation with a legal systems expert like Richard James.
Get In Touch with Our Trusted Business Consultant!
Yes, this message was about managing sales and time, but that’s because an excellent sales system allows you to achieve our ultimate goal – freedom!
If you want to have your best month ever, become a professional salesperson. The rewards are ongoing. If you want to know how to become good in sales, contact our legal management consultant Richard James or schedule a 1-on-1 consulting to get your customized practice growth plan.
Building a better practice, one sales focus at a time.