A client of mine during one of our weekly coaching sessions last week told me that she was not comfortable asking clients for work. At first, I was taken aback, since I’m thinking that it isn’t as tough as asking a prospect for work. I mean for goodness sake, it is a client that already knows and uses you. Then, I realized she was really saying that she was afraid of rejection or possibly just shy. We talked through the problem, and she became more comfortable with an approach (one idea: ask the client how they would ask their customer/client for work).
Interestingly, an article on this very topic by Allan Colman in Small Firm Business came into my inbox yesterday morning. He raises some good points in his article “Why Do Attorneys Have Trouble Asking Clients for Work?” Although he may be a touch harsh in attributing arrogance in some as the reason for not asking for work, he may be right. In any event, he cites three reasons lawyers don’t ask clients for work. They are:
- Don’t know how;
- Think it is “beneath them to ask” (or their credentials should speak for themselves); and
- Afraid of rejection.
His suggestions to overcome the above are (in order):
- Demystify the process, and educate the lawyers that it is an educational, relationship building process that requires time; however, not with interminable lunches/dinners without advances toward a close;
- Qualifications alone, such as where the lawyer went to school, how long s/he has been practicing, etc., are not enough – although I would take issue with Colman that “past successes” don’t matter. (Clearly they‘re an indication of how successful the lawyer might be with a similar matter.) Further, there does seem to be solid evidence that less qualified lawyers have landed business because they did ask, and marketed themselves more effectively; and
- Treat rejection as a new beginning, not the end. It could lead to another opportunity with the same client by continuing to grow the relationship.
It is important to ask for work. Although we were taught in law school that failure isn’t an option, when it comes to marketing, failure is going to happen and that is okay. So, don’t be timid, ask for goodness sake.