Posted by: johnocunningham | May 27, 2011

Most of All, Be Likeable

Fellow writer, Doug Stern, has just released an interesting blog post based on legal client surveys conducted by Laura Meherg of Wicker Park Group.

Doug notes that Laura has conducted literally hundreds of top-tier client interviews in recent years, and that she has discovered three qualities that clients look for in their lawyers above all others:

  1. Someone who can fix their problem;
  2. Someone who will make their life easier; and
  3. Someone they like as a person.

The first criterion is not surprising, and lawyers should be able to speak to that in a sales “pitch” but it does require that the “pitcher” first listen to determine what the prospect’s biggest problem might be.

The second quality is one that has some subtlety to it, and often reveals itself in the service rendered. Can you adapt to the style of communication the client prefers? Can you put invoices in the format their accounting group needs? Are you someone who needs to do it “your” way or can you let the client take or at least share control?

As for the last of the criteria, I think that is most important. I have heard it particularly emphasized by CEOs and non-lawyer clients, many of whom say it is simply the sine qua non of a professional relationship.

It requires a bit of “opening up” and a willingness to take off the professional armor, so it can be hard for lawyers to do. Our professional lives are, after all, spent mostly taking or shooting arrows for our clients, or trying to play the best hand for them in poker-style negotiations.  But lawyers who insist on holding all the cards about themselves close to the vest will have a hard time being likeable in a sales meeting.

If you want to check out Doug Stern’s take on this survey, visit this link to: Doug’s blog.

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