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Would you ever tell an interested prospective client, “I don’t think our firm is a good fit for your organization”?
Would you ever dare to refer an existing client to a competing law firm?
Would you ever admit a mistake or expose a weakness to a client—even if you knew they would never discover it on their own?
If you answered no to any (or all) of the questions above, I hope you keep reading. I maintain that not only should you be willing to do these things—you must do them if you want to enjoy a prosperous, fulfilling law practice. Most of my adult life has been spent in the profession of sales. However, what I'm about to share with you is not at all unique to sales. This applies to any industry or profession that relies on trusted relationships—such as the practice of law.
I’m fortunate to have been taught and mentored well in my profession. I’ve learned that trusted relationships are formed through a journey of discovery taken by two parties (in my case, the buyer and seller) concluding in a mutually agreed upon transaction that benefits both parties. It is honest and real. Professionals who subscribe to this understanding exemplify the best of their craft. They care deeply about others, which is why they have an extensive network of meaningful relationships. They cherish their personal brand and would never do anything to tarnish it. They are consistent winners.
Conversely, trusted relationships can never be formed by deceiving someone into doing something that is not in their best interest. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of sales people and attorneys out there who don’t understand this. I’ve seen them in action. They are the ones who give their profession a bad name. They are also the ones who don’t last long. Their wins are short-lived. Their relationships are superficial. They bounce from firm to firm trying to stay one step ahead of confronting the brutal reality that they have chosen the wrong line of work.
Karma is the ancient Hindu belief that one’s intent and actions influence the future of that individual. One’s good intent and good deeds lead to future happiness; one’s bad intent and bad deeds lead to future suffering. Almost all philosophies and religions across the ages have some version of Karma central to their belief system. For me, Karma isn’t a matter of faith or belief—I know for a fact it is real. I’ve seen it!
Throughout their book, Get-Real Selling, authors Keith Hawk and Michael Boland repeat the mantra, which is at the foundation of their approach to solution selling:
“My success can only follow the success of my customer.”
As they explain in the chapter on "closing":
“If we take this approach…then the skill of closing the deal becomes very simple. We reject the belief that we should trick our customer into buying by using some form of ruthlessly effective close.”
Yet that is what so many people believe it takes to be a successful negotiator or sales person. Gimmicks. Tactics. Catchy phrases. These things are conniving and manipulative. They are disingenuous and selfish. Contrast that with the Hawk-Boland way, which is genuine and selfless.
It’s Karma. If I focus my efforts on helping my clients achieve success, then I will be rewarded with riches, referrals, testimonials, and esteem. However, if I focus my efforts on lining my own pockets at the expense of my clients’ best interests, then whatever I profit in the short-term will ultimately be supplanted by the curse of discontent, discredit, and diminishing business. Sure, you might be able to beat your clients and trick them into making decisions that are in your best interests, not theirs, but you'll never beat Karma!
Jeff Weaver is a veteran leader and sales executive. For the past 14+ years he has been helping law firms throughout the United States solve critical problems impacting their client service, economics and quality of work life. This article is modified from an article originally published on KarmaMacchiato.com—his blog for sales professionals and organizational leaders. In addition to following his blog, you can find Jeff on Twitter at @jeffbweaver or LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffweaver/.