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How to start a sales program in your Firm

Your 4 step guide for turning professionals into lead generators

For professional services firms, a successful sales campaign involves much more than simply cold calling. It requires strategy, planning and - most importantly of all - commitment across the whole firm. 

This is my guide for how to build a successful 90 day sales program for professional services firms.

But don’t be misled by the name. A 90 day sales program doesn’t involve 90 days of selling. It involves 90 days of groundwork. After all, I find most firms need at least that much time to get from where they are to the point where they’re ready to make a real impact.

Step 1. Roadmap (More than 90 days before sales campaign).

The first step to any successful sales plan is to agree on what your firm wants to achieve. Of course, the end goal of any sales campaign is to generate sales. But how exactly will you do this?

For instance, do you intend to identify new leads from existing relationships? To re-engage with networks in your community? Or to win new business from new clients? Most likely, you’ll be aiming for a combination of all three.

Once you’ve established this, prepare a roadmap for achieving it and figure out how you will report progress.  In particular, you should:

● Work out how long your campaign will last (usually 3 – 6 months)

●Agree key performance indicators and important milestones

●Work out what you will do in the preparation phase, the activity phase, and also the debrief.

●Agree on a budget

●Identify and remove any red tape or barriers that may be getting in the way of lawyers networking or meeting clients.

So that your staff are engaged and committed,  make your sales campaign fun and something different from the day-to-day. For starters, give it a name.

Professionals are almost always competitive types, so consider introducing friendly competition between teams and include as many staff as possible. Why not start a ‘BD Olympics’ or a ‘Sales Apprentice’ competition?

Step 2. Research. (More than 60 days before the sales campaign)

You’ve already gone through the top level strategy. Now it’s time to put meat on the bone. It’s time to start your market research.

●Work out what your firm’s and fee earners’ strengths are and also where the best opportunities lie.

●Prepare a list of compelling propositions about why clients should go with you. (Identify clients’ pain points and show how you solve them.)

●Establish a sales pipeline for your office or your teams. You can do this by building a target lists of clients and referral sources and then providing your staff with this valuable market intelligence. 

●Develop a consistent approach for how you will go about trying to attract more work from them.  Better still, go one step further and give your professionals real confidence in their ability to convert these prospects into clients through skills training.

Step 3. Rally. (More than 30 days before the sales campaign)

It’s almost time to go in. But before you do, make sure everything is in place and that you’re geared up for success.

For starters, make sure your marketing collateral is up to date and reflects the key message you want clients to take away - this includes your website, LinkedIn profiles, capability statements and pitch templates. 

Arm all professionals and their support teams with at least 20 examples of BD activity. Give each of them at least 3 referral sources and at least 2 existing clients to research and target.

You should also give your fee earners something tangible they can invite clients to. The best way to do this is to schedule a client-networking event around 120 days after the start of your campaign.

Finally now is the time to carry out a brief client feedback survey, using at least 25 contacts from both your clients and your referral sources.

Do more with your numbers:  Provide data that adds insight into changes in your fee base and uncovers opportunities for professionals

Step 4. Ready! The campaign begins.

The big day has arrived.

By now the feedback from clients and referral sources will be available.  And some of what they’ve told you, you probably don’t like or didn’t know. So use the first 30 days of the sales period to focus on closing the loop on this feedback.

Spend the second 30 days emphasising meeting new contacts and engaging with networks.

And spend the third 30 days focusing on introducing contacts to others in your firm or in your networks.

You should also schedule a special meeting 90 days after the start of activity to debrief on the progress you’ve made and the impact on the firm.

But don’t stop there. Keep the momentum going by publicly recognising all sales activity and wins on a regular basis. You can do this through a monthly team gathering, preferably led by your Managing Partner. Use this meeting to share stories about successes, knock backs and recognise outstanding efforts.

And remember, no one gets everything right first time. The more you keep refining what you do, the more likely you are to build a successful sales machine. 

Sue-Ella Prodonovich