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Classic relationship business development is a losing approach

Old style business development approaches are losing ground in the new economy and a change offers opportunity to progressive law firms.  The remarkable findings disclosed in the book The Challenger Sale have had major corporations rethink their business development efforts and the lessons learned are equally applicable to law firms.

Consider their unexpected findings.  Relationship building, the primary tool of rainmakers, only accounts for 4% of complex sales since the 2008 economic downturn.  Clients now face cost pressure and have little time for relationship courting but need insightful professionals that can offer unique perspectives and the ability to assert control.  This is The Challenger Sale and now accounts for 54% of major transactions.

Interestingly, lawyers are very adapted to the Challenger approach but often suppress this style in view of the former teachings of relationship selling.  In essence, a Challenger teaches for differentiation (tell me something that I do not know); tailors for resonance (knows the client’s value drivers); and asserts control (help me get this done).

The purchase experience is the biggest contributor to client loyalty for B2B clients.  The loyalty drivers are firm reputation (19%); service delivery (19%); value pricing (9%); and the purchase experience (53%).

Decision makers are unwilling to go out on the limb on their own but demand widespread support for your firm at all levels from their organization.  This is contrary to most business development efforts that emphasize the need to identify and engage only at the C-level.

The Challenger Sale is a worthy read from cover-to-cover to appreciate the new approach required at both the marketing and selling levels.  You will also learn that continuing your Relationship style of business development is likely undermining your profitability with only a 4% success factor.

Posted in: Business Development

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