Posted by: johnocunningham | May 29, 2017

How the Voice of the Client Should Guide Your Sales and Service Efforts

Too many legal service sales pitches are about the law firm and not the client.

That is just one of the insights learned from the voices of the clients at the LSSO RainDance conference in Dallas on May 9-10.

More than one presenter spoke about the value of client surveys and what can be learned from listening to clients, who are almost always willing to give candid and helpful feedback when asked.

We learned from one survey why sales pitches most often fail with clients. Here are some of the biggest reasons:

  1. The lawyers offered no reason “why” to hire them rather than the competition (there was no “value proposition”)
  2. The lawyers spent too much time on a sales pitch rather than a service pitch (if you got into the room, the client already assessed your competence, so start talking about and demonstrating your commitment to service)
  3. The lawyers talked too much about their competence without focusing on their relevance (for clients, the relevance is all about the client’s industry and particular business, and legal service capacity must be demonstrated within that context… or as one client put it, “competence is about the lawyer, relevance is about the client”)
  4. There was no “chemistry” with the lawyers (this means basically, the client simply did not like you… sales are about trust, and trust is very much about being likeable)
  5. “We wanted a firm that is already where we are headed,” which means a firm that is in the future, already ahead of the competition, already mastering new technologies, already executing on diversity initiatives and other futuristic directions

This last bit of feedback is something new, which indicates a growing concern with staying ahead of the pace of change. The first four reasons for sales pitch failures are within the scope of more traditional, longstanding feedback from clients.

Lawyers have enough to do just to master their practices, but now they also have to master the art of communicating their mastery and relevance to clients, who are increasingly picky about the company they keep. According to a recent survey of Fortune 1,000 companies by the reputable BTI Consulting Group, the average company utilized a total of just 37 law firms last year, down more than 30 percent from a total of 54 in 2012, as clients consolidate more work into the hands of the most trusted and highest graded performers on their outside counsel rosters.

Some other client feedback that presenters offered at the LSSO RainDance conference included the following:

  • Clients generally prefer dialogue-driven sales meetings to passive PowerPoint presentations;
  • Most clients like “high-touch and low-tech” meetings with outside consultants
  • Clients often say they want to hire someone who reflects their own personalities, which may mean someone “scrappy and entrepreneurial” if the client is a start-up or fast-growing enterprise
  • Many clients say they would like to see lawyers act more like consultants, offering insights on what others are doing, looking to the future, and offering up a plan to keep pace with or beat the competition

Audience members also learned the well-established value of doing good client surveys, which can:

  • Identify service problems before they result in client defections;
  • Make the client feel valued and respected (IF their feedback is heard and acted upon);
  • Identify new business opportunities when clients speak about what is most important to them and their futures; and
  • Solidify existing solid relationships.



  1. Nice synopsis, John. Now I don’t feel as if I missed everything this year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: