The 10th and 11th of May saw our 5th Client Conference at Coombe Abbey in Coventry. Good job there was an alternative bar in case of wet weather, but thankfully the rain didn't dampen our spirits. As promised, all speaker presentations can be found at the end of the blog.
The following are a few great comments from the attendees at our 2012 conference :-
"An excellent Conference; very engaging speakers, fun and some great practical tips and tools. It's now up to me to implement them when I get back to the office!"
"Great way to find out what your peers are doing, to exchange ideas and get access to some exciting stuff".
"This has been a really useful Conference with lots of tips about business development and an opportunity to meet like minded people who are facing the same issues and challenges in their businesses. Extremely informative and entertaining presentations have made the Conference a very enjoyable experience for me."
David, (his loyal Orange Dog by his side), kicked off the Conference in his (unsurprisingly) bright orange shirt. Afterwards, the following agenda played out:
- Stephen Gold – Making Rainmakers: The Imprecise Art of Winning and Keeping Quality Business
- Bernard Savage – Business Development Best Practice and Implementation
- Simon White – Simply Stunning Service
- Steven Pearce – What’s Your Story?
- Andy Green – 5 Creative Heroes you can use to Solve Immediate Problems and Challenges
- Peter Rosenwald – Prospects & Clients love a Sector Specialist
- Open Forum/Teaching Session
- Dinner and After...
- Friday's Session
Stephen Gold gave the opening presentation at the Conference, talking practical ways to win and keep business. With the belief that firms should devote 80% of their time to maintaining and building relationships with existing clients, the majority of Stephen’s presentation detailed ways to keep existing clients happy while the other part was centred around the art of selling. It is widely known, (sadly), that lawyers’ technical skills are somewhat taken for granted. Nowadays good service with your existing clients is paramount as is building an effective relationship. Stephen offered great advice, that you shouldn’t forget to listen to your clients, as one of his teachers reminded him, ‘you have two ears and one mouth; use them in that ratio and you’ll get on much better’! Selling wise, Stephen reminded the audience that clients are investing in their firm and that they should act like chameleons; having a refined sense of where the next target is coming from. Another key point is that people buy with their hearts so creating empathy with clients is key.
Bernard Savage was next up talking tips for business development (hot topic of the day!). Bernard stressed the importance of a firm developing a niche specialisation so that they know their client's sector inside out; clients want to know that lawyers are in tune with their business. Cementing relationships with your clients through 'professional gossip' multiple times a year, (not just when you have an agenda) was another tip for keeping your clients close. Finally, Bernard demonstrated that people will pay a premium for a lawyer's niche experience, so don't be quick to offer discounted services!
Simon White began his presentation on simply stunning service with an insight into his own professional career, turns out he spent a couple of years at customer service retail guru John Lewis! With the middle market expanding and some firms being squeezed out, now is the time to keep your clients close, establish a loyal following and go the extra mile with that all important customer service. He explained how important it is to differentiate through behaviour and niche. Social media is the new key aspect in the customer's journey to get to the firm, so he reminded the audience to ensure that they are making the most of that opportunity. Finally, he called on firms to be the 'local hero'; the firm that wants to be part of the community.
Stephen Pearce was next up asking the question 'What's Your Story'? The theme of differentiation ran through his presentation, with Stephen asking delegates to think about the story behind their firm and how their clients might view it.Throughout his interactive presentation, he got the audience to come up with mission and success stories to assess the best parts of the job and successful cases for clients. (Which initiated some thoughtful and amusing responses!) The latter of which he appropriately used the acronym 'SOAR' - situation, obstacle, action and result.
It was back to the 14th Century with Andy Green during his creative thinking about role models. He asked the audience, when faced with a tough situation, to question what their ancestors would have done in the face of the Black Death, or more specifically to look to your DNA, or heritage to overcome problems that you face. (After all, not many things could be as bad as the Black Death...!) He also encouraged the audience to embrace challenges, be brave in the face of adversity and be more efficient in your day to day lives to free up time to take more opportunities. Cleverly done was the analogy of a slinky (props included!) to question whether firms are 'flexible' enough in their thinking.
Peter Rosenwald suggested that firms should differentiate by sector and not service. And why? It creates a greater return on marketing and it's easier to gain leads. Targeting the market effectively will ensure that clients will come. He also shared some interesting perspectives on routes to market; primarily through social media, video testimonials and podcasts.
The Open Forum covered the following:-
- Groups on LinkedIn
- Tweet best practice
- Maps and local search
- QR codes
- Google +
Dinner was a success, as were drinks afterwards, with Andrew (among others, we won't name names) once again proving that he could stay up later than David...
Friday morning consisted of another open session, lead by both David and Andrew which included:-
- Email/client newsletters
- Videos - animoto
- How to compete with big brands