Show Me You Know Me
By Samantha McKenna
December 02, 2021 | 6-minute read
Business Development Sales and Networking Techniques Content Type Article Additional Options Content Level: Essential
Law firms are constantly striving to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In-house business development professionals are tasked with helping their lawyers to create bespoke outreach that sets them apart and creates a compelling reason for prospects to find a way to work with them. If they coach thoughtfully, they can tee up their lawyers to stand out from the crowd and develop client relationships and, ultimately, client loyalty. Samantha McKenna, award-winning sales leader, founder of #samsales Consulting and LinkedIn brand ambassador, discusses why showing clients that we understand their business is key to delivering an exceptional client experience that sets firms apart.
Why is it important to have a current awareness strategy? How can monitoring client mentions in the news provide a competitive advantage and lead to business (BD) opportunities?
Regardless of the type of role we serve in with our clients — whether it be as counsel, sales, customer success, etc. — there is one common theme we hear back from them: We wish you understood our business and challenges better.
If we understood those two aspects better, it would be an advantage by the simple virtue of us meeting client demands. Setting that aside for a moment, consider the further advantage it gives us by being able to proactively understand how our services can solve their challenges. By monitoring client mentions in the news, or even the mention of their competitors, we can set ourselves up to not only be strategic advisors, but to give advice or intel that will become invaluable to our clients.
Further, monitoring these mentions doesn’t always present us with opportunities to grow our footprint with the client, but it does often offer us the chance to connect and refer them to trusted colleagues. This makes us even more valuable as a central base for all their needs, in and outside of the areas on which we focus.
Everyone is busy. What are some strategies for staying consistent and maintaining relationships?
The solution comes down to process and prioritization. The best way you can maintain a relationship is by adding value, plain and simple. So, how do you build a process into this while still staying authentic?
Personally, I have a running list in LinkedIn Sales Navigator (LSN) that I call “Top Clients + Prospects.” I have each person saved on that list, as well as any personal or business notes I took on the call. I’m mindful to keep notes on personal things that were mentioned in our conversations, such as the names of their children, if they have pets, where they mentioned going on vacation, etc. These small moves help humanize you and form rapport that isn’t solely based on professional topics.
What I love about using LSN is that it aggregates my clients’ mentions in the press, what they’ve posted on LinkedIn personally, if their company is mentioned in the press and even if they’ve changed jobs without my realizing.
I’ve built a process to check through the list at least twice a month and proactively look for ways to add value such as:
- Are there individuals in a common space or role where I can facilitate introductions and help both of them make a new professional contact?
- Was there a recent article that I saw that would be of value to them?
- Is there an upcoming conference or webinar that I know they would want to attend?
- Is there a milestone that I can celebrate? Perhaps a big birthday, a work anniversary, a move, a fundraising goal achieved, a marathon ran?
A few additional tips here:
1. Regarding sending an article, you’ll want to be mindful of the framework. For example:
I stumbled across this piece over the weekend and it made me think of you because of our recent chat regarding XYZ. One piece I particularly loved was this specific point…Link to the article is below — hope you find it useful!
The framework illustrates why you thought of the person, teases a specific point you loved about it and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Not only does this allow the person to connect with you better on the reason you gave for loving the article, but by not making an ask at the end, you’re demonstrating that this was only to serve them, not yourself.
2. I’m part of a few small, invite-only groups, and I suspect many of you or your attorneys are as well. As part of one, I’m invited weekly to invite-only webinars that are small in nature and have incredible guests. I recently invited a senior vice president at a key client to one such webinar and said, “Be my guest at this event, I think you’ll get tremendous value out of it!”
What this allowed me to do was not only be of value to my client in giving them access to this type of invitation, but it also wordlessly demonstrated some of the circles I run in, which added to my credibility in their eyes.
The best way you can maintain a relationship is by adding value, plain and simple.
Your brand is tied to a few key phrases, but one of them we hear often is, “Show me you know me.” Can you expand on this a little?
We have all been on those initial calls with sales reps pitching to us or on a Zoom with our attorneys meeting clients for the first time and they haven’t done any research in advance. The quickest way to get me to disqualify wanting to work with someone is when they get on a Zoom and ask, “So, where are you based?” or say, “Where did you work before #samsales?”
“Show me you know me” is the concept of showing clients and prospective clients alike that we have done our research on them in advance. Think of the advantages this advance research gives us:
1. Prior to an initial meeting, take stock of all the client attendees joining and look at their LinkedIn profile to:
a. See if you have connections in common
b. Understand how long they have worked for their current employer
c. Look at their prior employers to see if any are existing clients of your firm
2. A quick review of the client’s website gives us an understanding of what the client does, who the competitors are and also lets us confirm that there are no conflicts in working with said client.
3. Review the press of the client — what is going on in the client’s business that is noteworthy to possibly reference on the call or even stay away from should there be negative press.
These moves allow us to be properly prepared for our initial calls, to have data to use to build rapport and trust, and to continue doing these motions throughout the entire cycle of our relationship with the client. All of that aside, it makes us stand out in a significantly different and positive way to our clients.