Rainmakers and Trailblazers – Reviewed

Rainmakers and Trailblazers by Kim TassoRainmakers and Trailblazers by Kim Tasso claims in the introduction to provide:-

“step-by-step, pragmatic advice to what an individual lawyer (senior or junior, serving commercial or consumer markets) might do to get started in business development or in specific business development situations.”

Kim does not disappoint and you do get exactly what it says on the tin.

However, Kim does invite you to “skip the social media ideas if you want to”. Perhaps not sage advice. Social media has given me and Inksters some very good business development opportunities over the past few years. Ignore it at your peril.

I assume though that Kim knows that many lawyers (probably the majority of her readers) turning the first few pages will already be prejudiced against social media (‘irrational rejectionism’ as Richard Susskind calls it) and she no doubt wants to keep them engaged.

I liked the analogy between rainmakers and the author’s native American ancestors. Kim knows that:-

success for them wasn’t about a lone brave out on his or her own, but the careful study of weather patterns and the local environment, monitoring the habits of their prey and the trailblazing activities conducted by the entire tribe working together.

One of the major challenges I am sure for most law firms is managing to achieve such unity when it comes to rainmaking activities.

Many lawyers do still think that if you are really, really good at your area of law and provide an excellent service then you will be recommended by word of mouth and the phone won’t stop ringing with new clients and new business.

Kim reminds us that this was perhaps true once upon a time. All has changed due to a relaxation in promotional rules, supply for legal services outstripping demand and the advent of the internet.

Today, it is not only important every lawyer knows how to generate new business – whether from existing or new clients or referrers, whether seeking private individuals or global corporations as clients – it is fundamental to survival.

Some might see this as uncomfortable or even sleazy. But Kim tells us to see it in a different way:-

Consider that you are seeking the right sort of clients and helping them to solve a problem. You are helping them to buy. That way your goals (the need for more legal work) and their goals (a solution to a personal or business problem) are aligned.

Kim then embarks on a journey to turn you into a rainmaker. She warns at the outset “no pain, no gain”. It isn’t that easy. And she also reminds us that “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

‘Rainmakers and Trailblazers’ covers marketing fundamentals such as identifying what sort of business developer you are (what activities you can do best) and researching the external market. But it also provides you with the tools to prepare yourself, such as a business development competencies matrix for you to complete showing your strengths and weaknesses.

The importance of deepening existing relationships is explored. There may be kudos in bagging a new client but retaining an existing one may be more significant especially if that client is one of the 20% that gives you 80% of your business.

You also, of course, need to raise your profile and Kim looks at “Brand Me”. Something I have been known to bang on a bit about too! When I asked some solicitors a few years ago for views on what we should put on our new business cards one said “Google Brian Inkster” as that was all I would need. 🙂 Many solicitors have a long way to go before that will work for them but Kim gives you all the pointers you need to achieve it.

It is the culmination of a range of activities over time that helps you establish contact, build a relationship, demonstrate credibility, learn about client needs and win opportunities to pitch, and this needs a drip-drip approach to on-going activity.

I know this all to well. It is along term project and takes hard work and dedication but is certainly well worth the effort.

Kim looks at the difficulties of internal cross-selling and gives some good examples of excuses for lawyers not doing it.

My client prefers to deal with me alone.

Ways of overcoming this resistance are given.

The importance of networking on and offline is highlighted with a very useful step-by-step guide from the first encounter to the all important part of actually winning business.

We have two ears and one mouth and should use them in these proportions.

We are reminded by Kim that:-

It is often easier for lawyers to choose not to get involved in marketing and business development – they feel more confident performing their legal job and often this will lead to short-term results, such as chargeable hours worked. This also suggests we must ensure lawyers have the necessary skills and confidence to tackle the business development tasks we set them and to provide clear and specific goals.

Part II of ‘Rainmakers and Trailblazers’ is about law firms supporting business development by individual lawyers. Much of this part of the book is written from the perspective of a big law firm and the different departments and systems that may be there to assist you. But there is much in here that applies equally to the smaller firm and it may just be that the support on various fronts comes from a smaller pool of people with a wider range of skills.

Kim gives three strategies to avoid being pressed down into the commodity end of the market: “go large”, “go niche” and “go local”. At Inksters we are doing all three!

To stay the same, Kim says, is no longer an option:-

It results in a de facto “go out” strategy.

Kim gives some examples of law firm differentiation. She quite likes the idea of “Lawyer on a bike”. This is an “on the spot” lawyer that you despatch on a motor cycle to come and fix problems in situ. An urban approach perhaps to Inksters’ “Flying Solicitors” to help those in the most far flung parts of Scotland. See flyingsolicitors.com.

As Kim says:-

Let go of your constrained thinking resulting from the way you have always done business.

Easier said than done for most lawyers me thinks 😉

Think as if you were a client – who just wants a solution to a problem.

Kim tells you to make friends with finance:-

The main purpose of getting to grips with finance is so you devote your time and energy to developing the right sorts of clients and work. And the right sort of clients and work are those that generate the most profit. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But too often, lawyers go in pursuit of more clients, work and fee income without really thinking about the relative and absolute profitability of the work.

‘Rainmakers and Trailblazers’ finishes with a reminder of a point made at the outset of the book:-

The ability to generate work and win new clients is no longer a “nice to have” – it is a necessity. The future job market will expect great candidates to not only be good at their legal subject but to have a host of other skills – and marketing and business development is right up there at the top of the list.

And what about the “too busy” excuse? Kim says:-

In terms of being “too busy” the key is to find business development activities you find palatable and a way to fit them into your busy work life. It is possible to do it – believe me. It’s unfamiliar and difficult at first but it will get easier. Set yourself some simple goals to begin with – using this book you will be able to sketch out a plan of activities and schedule a little bit of business development activity a week. Make the effort.

Yes, you really do have to make that effort. But Kim’s book provides the steps necessary to do so with useful tables, flowcharts, checklists, check points and web links.

If you wanna  be a rainmaker, if you wanna be the best, if you wanna beat the rest then ‘Rainmakers and Trailblazers’ by Kim Tasso is what you need. Buy it now via Legal Monitor

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