Over the past few months, Frank Ready has written about how legal tech marketing and sales are missing the mark with aggressive pitches that aggravate prospects. Frank’s articles struck a chord with me and made me reflect on how we (as vendors) need to take responsibility and become part of the solution.
In one article, Frank highlighted a quote from a lawyer saying a sales call left her feeling “deposed.” While the questions were typical for tech sales, you can chalk this up to a culture clash, as “lawyers just unaccustomed to some of the traditional software sales techniques that have been a staple of other business sectors...[they] want to take control of this process and not be sold to. ”
This means giving buyers space and taking a more consultative approach. Much has been written about ‘Consultative Selling.’ Interestingly, BusinessDictionary.com offers the following definition:
“Personal selling in which a salesperson plays the role of a consultant. He or she first assists the buyer in identifying his or her needs, and then suggesting products that satisfy those needs.”
At first blush, this is a somewhat cynical definition, but it makes sense. Playing a role or acting like a consultant interested in the prospect’s needs is an insult. While I’m not implying that most salespeople are uncaring product shills, it’s clear that we need to re-examine our sales and communications strategies.
Instead of acting as if we care, let us be a source of information and knowledge to legal professionals navigating the complex world of legal tech solutions.
Bombarding a prospect with calls and emails often starts the relationship off on the wrong foot. Often sellers need to go beyond mere personality or culture fit, as many legal buyers lack a long-term technology road map and will benefit from the advice of a trusted advisor.
Some buyers may want to begin with a smaller investment (think pilot project) that includes multi-stakeholder confirmations, and they may have strict data security requirements.
As Vendors, we need to start by taking stock of our sales strategies. Are we:
- Too focused on short-term results?
- Building long-term trusted relationships, or renting Rolodexes and role-playing?
- Communicating our value propositions to the proper market or taking a shotgun approach?
We deal with risk-averse, reluctant buyers. It only takes a few bad experiences to turn a potential buyer into a distrusting prospect. We owe it to our companies, other legal tech providers to be respectful and interested in serving our prospects. How do we collectively respond to these challenges? We need to take stock of our sales and marketing strategies and keep these tenants in mind:
1. Listen to your prospective clients.
2. Recognize that today’s buyer does a great deal of research before they are ever interested in speaking to a salesperson. Prepare to answer their well-informed questions head-on.
3. Take rejection with grace and plan for future opportunities before burning bridges.
Reminding ourselves that the individuals on the receiving end of our outreach are humans also helps us to slow down and remain respectful of all the sensitive elements they’re dealing with when we sell our products. Long-term success will only be realized through the hard work and patience required to build open and honest relationships with prospects.