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The Litigation Consulting Report

The Top 10 Tips for Selling Professional Services

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 03:16 PM

 

professional service sales tips litigation supportby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As the founder of A2L Consulting I've had the opportunity to do every job in the company at some point in the last 20 years. I enjoy technical work that requires deeply complex thinking. I'm great at conceptualizing litigation graphics for opening statements. Not surprisingly, as CEO, I also love leadership and strategy.

However, the job I love the most is helping people connect with the right people at A2L who can solve their challenges. Usually, these challenges are related to communicating to a judge or jury, persuading a skeptical public audience, or testing to find just the right oral and visual message for a particular audience. What do I call this job? Well, the title of this post is big clue. This job is sales. 

A lot of people conjure up images of gregarious backslapping fraternity types when they think of salespeople. If you're doing it well, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sales is simply helping people solve problems. It's pretty easy when they know they have a problem, but it is certainly much harder when they have yet to perceive the problem, when you want to help them prevent a problem, or even when they have no idea that the solutions you know about exist.

In 20 years I've talked to tens of thousands of people in a sales context. I think I do sales well, and the lessons I've learned selling litigation consulting services can be applied to any professional services sale including selling as a lawyer.

Here are the top 10 tips I have for any salesperson engaging in professional services sales or pretty much sales of any type.

10. Create accountability systems. Great sales people want to be held accountable for their metrics (i.e. calls, meetings, etc.) and their results. Bad sales people hide and obfuscate. If you want to be great, get yourself a coach, a mentor or a group that you will report to weekly. Simply by talking through your metrics with someone else on a regular basis you'll become much more effective.

9. Act like your prospects. People generally like themselves. They also usually like people like themselves. If you want to be liked and respected by your prospect, behave like them. While I believe in NLP principles related to mirroring and matching techniques, I'm not being that granular. If your prospect is an introvert, be one when you're with them. If they like to go out for drinks, join them in that atmosphere. Go where the prospects are, and act like the prospects do.

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8. Tenacity is the best and most overlooked sales strategy. One study found that most sales people have given up after the fifth attempt to reach someone. However most deals are usually arrived at after at least eight contacts and attempts to get a deal done. As one blogger put it, 90% of salespeople have given up before 80% of sales are made. Very often, to be good at sales, all you have to do is stick with it. If you generally only try to reach someone a few times, you're almost guaranteed to fail as a salesperson.

7. "No's" are good news. It's probably going to take nine no's for every yes you hear in sales. Rather than seeing a "no" as an affront to your self-esteem, be grateful. You just got through one of the nine preventing you from getting to that next "yes."

6. Your existing clients have more business than you think they do. While A2L has worked with pretty much every major law firm in the country, there are really only a handful of firms where I believe we have more than 25% of the firm's annual litigation consulting spend. I've been at this 20 years, and I still have this problem. All of my serious competitors like DecisionQuest, FTI and TrialGraphix, are in the same boat. You can always dig deeper, and it is always easier, faster and cheaper to sell to current clients than it is to find new ones. Treat your current clients more like prospects and less like assets, and you'll uncover gold.

5. No one sales method works for the long-term. At A2L, our sales teams and I use a combination of four methods to generate sales. First, we do great work at A2L so we get repeat business and referrals. In professional services, results are gold, and without them, no amount of sales can help you. Second, we use this blog (here's a free subscription) to share valuable information with the kinds of people we hope to work with (5,000 subscribe already). People call us every day as a result of having read an article about jury consulting, litigation graphics, trial technology, or our visual persuasion services. Third, using a product called LawProspector, we use warm calling methods to reach out to people we know are likely to need litigation consulting services soon. Fourth, we use classic one-to-one relationship selling to build relationships for the long-term. These four methods work together like a symphony.

4. What gets measured gets done. Sorry for the cliché, but it's true. If you're not tracking every bit of sales activity you do, you shouldn't bother trying to sell, because you're just doing it wrong. You must use a CRM. Without metric tracking and accountability in some form, most people will just bounce from conversation to conversation without converting a meaningful number of deals. It feels like sales, but it's really just endless flirting.

3. You're going to sell your way no matter what, so don't try to sell like somebody else. A friend of mine who is a partner to major law firm is a very effective sales guy. He's worked at it, and he is rightfully proud of his accomplishments. He uses a sales coach, and he shared with me something that his coach told him. My friend didn't like big networking events (I can empathize), and he didn't like cold calling people. However, he knew he liked having dinner parties. So instead of uncomfortable selling methods, he has regular dinner parties with people who are prospects and people who are clients. It works for him, and his method is entirely consistent with the message I am advocating.

2. Sales is helping people. I said it earlier, but there's a lot of baggage around the word "sales." It is unwarranted. Sales is simply helping people you care about be relieved of or avoid pain. Who doesn't like to do that? Remember that the next time your confidence is down. Start helping someone.

1. C + M = $ales.  You'll make a certain number of contacts (i.e. calls, emails, handshakes) from which will you earn a certain number of meetings. From those meetings you get a certain amount of business. Anyone who tells you sales is something more than that is trying to sell you something. If you don't have enough sales, you're not going to enough meetings. If you're not getting enough meetings, you're not making enough contacts. You're probably going to need to make at least 25 contacts to generate a meeting (very cold calls can be more like 90:1). If you know your average transaction and you know your sales goal in dollars, you know exactly how many calls you need to make and how many meetings you will need to set up. Required Calls Per Week = (((Annual $ales goal / average transaction) / (10% meeting close rate)) * 25 calls to get a meeting) /48 weeks (because nobody sells 52 weeks a year).

I love hearing from other salespeople, particularly those in law firms, litigation support and other professional services. Drop me a note, and tell me what tips I missed.

Other articles related to sales, pricing methods and customer service at A2L Consulting's site:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Jury Consultants, Pricing, Customer Service, Business Development

10 Things Litigation Consultants Do That WOW Litigators

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 @ 04:38 PM

 

litigation consultants wow factor best top ratedby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As CEO of a litigation consulting firm offering litigation graphics consulting services, jury consulting services and trial technology support services, I hear the word "wow" quite often from A2L's clients, and I know our talented competitor firms hear the same. Usually, when I hear it, someone has wildly exceeded a client's expectations, one of our people came through in a pinch or someone on our team went without sleep for even longer than the litigator.

Whatever the reason for the "wow," I'm thrilled to hear it since it means we've truly delighted a customer. I've written about my passion for good customer service in the past in Litigators, You Deserve Ritz-Carlton-Level Service and 15 Tips for Great Customer Service from the Restaurant Industry. I believe great customer is just a minimum standard in the litigation consulting industry, and at our firm, we are really striving for delight.

Here are 10 situations where litigation consultants like A2L Consulting and other firms like ours often hear the word, "wow."

  1. Wow, you came in at or under budget: One of well-known competitors has struggled recently, and I think one of the biggest reasons was their constant lowballing on estimates. For them, it seemed every major case was estimated at $25K but the invoice always ended up closer to $250K. At A2L and at other great firms, we do a great job of setting expectations accurately. We often hear a "wow" around budget especially since we so often use fixed fee pricing and other alternative fee arrangements to delight customers. See 12 Alternative Fee Arrangements We Use and You Could Too.
     
  2. Wow, our jury behaved just like the mock jury: It is an amazing experience to watch a group of jurors arrive at a nearly identical outcome to those in a mock jury. While we often emphasize that a mock trial should be used primarily support voir dire, for practice and for hearing how mock jurors reason through your case during deliberations as opposed to a predictive tool, it is still fascinating to see a jury behave quite similarly to a mock jury. See Mock Trials: Do They Work? Are They Valuable?.

  3. Wow, the jury loved that demonstrative: When A2L started almost 20 years ago, we were exclusively a litigation graphics firm. We've since become known as one of the best in the jury consulting and trial technology spaces too. Still, after all these years, we have worked on more litigation graphics projects than any other type of project and probably more than most any other firm. Not surprisingly, we often hear about how a demonstrative we developed resonated with a jury. The litigators often seem surprised, but honestly, we're not. It's just what we do. See 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  4. Wow, you found a way to show that: It is fairly common that I hear this "wow" comment. A trial team, made up of brilliant lawyers, has been working on a case for years. They've struggled to find a way to persuasively describe a particular point, technology or set of facts. Through our creative process, our litigation consultants find just the right rhetorical technique or demonstrative exhibit that conveys a complex point efficiently and persuasively. See Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices and Information Design and Litigation Graphics.

  5. Wow, you stayed right there with us: Usually when we hear this "wow" it means we were sleep deprived. More specifically, it is typically one of our trial technicians who was the most sleep deprived. These amazing consultants help make last minute changes to the trial presentation, prepare deposition clips and evidence for display and handle the running of the electronic show at trial that makes a lawyer look like a star or a flop. Often they stay awake for days at a time leading up to trial. See What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost? and 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians.
     
  6. Wow, I didn't know people did what you do: We have been litigation consultants for 20 years, but the industry is still quite young. While most litigators understand there are people who do demonstratives, jury and trial work, few understand that litigation consultants can be active coaches to litigators, can support theme and story development and do much more to help a litigator prepare a case. See Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators and 11 Small Projects You Probably Don't Think Litigation Consultants Do and 11 Things Your Colleagues Pay Litigation Consultants to Do.
     
  7. Wow, our judge praised your work on the record: This happens at least once a year, and my favorite clients take the time to send me the transcript. One judge in the Court of Federal Claims said, "These animations are fabulous. I have to commend the plaintiff . . . it's really fantastic." Another District Court Judge asked if our trial technician could help oppossing counsel get their presentation to work.
     
  8. Wow, you actually helped me improve as a litigator: This is really my favorite "wow" compliment although I rarely hear it. It takes someone with a lot of humility to believe it and then to say it, but some do, and it's amazing. We really do care about helping our clients win, and we hope to leave them a little better prepared for the next case as a result of having worked with our litigation consultants at A2L.
     
  9. Wow, you should have seen oppossing counsel when . . . : This is a wide category of wow. Sometimes we hear this because our trial tech was so much better than the other side's trial tech. Sometimes we hear this because our litigation graphics were so much better than the opposition. Regardless, we're quite competitive at A2L, and we live and breathe our cases. We love winning, but we often love defeating our opponent more. Many of our favorite customers feel exactly the same way.

  10. Wow, sorry, I don't have any suggestions for how you can improve: I'm big on post-trial debriefs. I wrote an article titled 9 Questions to Ask in Your Litigation Postmortem or Debrief that I think summarizes my feelings around this topic pretty well. Bottom line though, I love when a client answers my oft asked question, "on a scale of 1-10, how likely would you be to recommend A2L to a colleague?" with a "10." I'm happy to say I hear that answer quite often.
     
litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Preparation, Customer Service

9 Questions to Ask in Your Litigation Postmortem or Debrief

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 @ 04:20 PM


litigation postmortem trial debriefby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

After almost all of our medium and large engagements, I do something that is probably the single most important thing I do as CEO: I take A2L's clients to lunch.

It's not the lunch that counts, although it is appreciated. It’s the discussion that matters. I consider this discussion to be a great opportunity for a debrief or postmortem.

Since the trusted-adviser relationship of litigation consultant to litigator is similar to that of litigator to in-house counsel, I think this practice is one most lawyers can use too.

Of course, this approach is not unique to the legal industry. The debrief or postmortem has been used in the movie industry for decades. It’s frequently used in government settings and is often used by the military. As a Green Beret friend of mine says, after a mission it’s important to ask, “What almost got us killed today?”

I have done these debriefings more than 100 times in the past two decades, and I learn something new every single time. It’s a simple exercise but not an easy one. To help make it a bit easier, I always bring another member of my team and we hold ourselves to one critical standard that makes this lunch work well: we never get even a bit defensive. This lack of defensiveness puts our clients at ease.

Here are the questions I usually ask, in this order.

  1. Why I engage in this exercise: This is not a question I ask them. Rather, it is something I tell them, and I think it is essential to set the stage. I do these lunches in order to improve my company’s delivery and service and to ensure that we are giving our clients what they need and that we are adapting to their needs rather than the other way around.
     
  2. Have you worked with folks like us before?: In many cases, I will be meeting the client for the first time, and I like to understand how familiar with litigation consultants they are. It also helps set a baseline. If you were asking this of your client, you might want to know how other law firms would tackle the client’s problem.
     
  3. What did we do well?: I find that if we do not discuss the positive first, the negative is too hard to say, or it is too hard to say positive things after diving into the negative.
     
  4. What can we do better?: They don't usually believe I am serious about this. So I use some of the information they have shared about competitors to ask, “Did we do it better than XYZ?”  “There is always something that can be improved; what is that one thing here?”

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  5. Did we find the right balance of giving advice and taking direction? This is a very sensitive area in our line of work. We have written about it many times (see Working in Parallel vs. Series with Trial Presentation Consultants). However, for a successful engagement, we need to get this right.
     
  6. If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Most of the time I hear, "just keep doing what you are doing." But sometimes, I get some real nuggets of wisdom from people who want us to be getting better and better for both of our sakes.
     
  7. What is the best way for us to say in touch? We have a large number of ways that we stay in touch with clients, from our blog to social media. I am always trying to match our ability to stay in touch to the customer's style. Some say "sign me up for the blog," while others say take me to lunch once a year or so, and I am happy to do either.
     
  8. Net Promoter Score. Like many of my peers, we use some variation of the Net Promoter scoring system to measure how our clients are feeling about us. Specifically, we ask: "How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague on a scale of 1-10?"
     
  9. Anyone you think I should meet? If your clients replies to you with a Net Promoter score of 7-10, you can ask for referrals, otherwise I think you have some work to do.

Wonder if this approach works and is appreciated by clients? I had one of my favorite clients reply to the Net Promoter Score question with a "5" which he then raised to a "7" because in his words, we took the time to have this conversation with him and no one else ever had.

 

Articles related to good customer service in litigation and the business of litigation on A2L Consulting's site: 

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Tags: Litigation Management, Leadership, Marketing, Customer Service

15 Tips for Great Customer Service from the Restaurant Industry

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 @ 05:25 PM


customer service lessons from waitress waiters servers for litigation supportby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I have a CEO friend who says she won't hire someone who’s never had experience working in a restaurant. And she’s not in the restaurant business. She just thinks that one of the best places one can get trained in customer service is waiting tables in some form.

And whoever you are – outside counsel, litigation support staff, consultant, or in-house counsel – client service is an essential. How do you develop that skill?

I've always felt that you can learn as much going to great restaurants about customer service as you can in the Ritz Carlton's hospitality training. Great waitstaff know how to make the experience work.

Here are fifteen tips for providing great service that I learned from the restaurant business.

  1. Set expectations. Most disputes arise from differences in expectations. This is especially true in customer service. Helping people understand what to expect and when to expect it is critical. If you're going to share the draft brief, the client needs to know that it is a draft. If you're going to share trial exhibits in draft form with the client they need to understand the difference between the draft and final from your perspective.
     
  2. Anticipate needs. Just as you would want your server to bring you a cup with a lid for a toddler, offer your client things you know they are going to need. If they are presenting at trial, make sure they have a remote clicker. If they are using printed trial boards, make sure they have an easel.
     
  3. Don’t be clingy. I recently had a waiter who would not leave our table but just kept asking questions while I was engaged in an important business discussion. Knowing when to back off is just as important as knowing when to lean in.
     
  4. Check in from time to time. Asking how things are going is one of the simplest things waitstaff can do. We do the same in our engagements. Asking how things are going from the client perspective is one of the easiest things any of us can do.
     
  5. At the end, ask how things went. Many restaurants use comment cards to collect evaluations from diners. Most restaurants also ask how things went. You should do the in your business. Perhaps it is not a comment card and is instead a follow up lunch.

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  6. Tell me about the specials. In litigation there may not be special offers, but you may have some tricks up your sleeve that you can share. We often share ways to save money or get the work done most efficiently.
     
  7. Stay in touch. We work hard to stay in touch with clients and reach out to new potential clients. There are many ways of doing this, but every client is unique.  Find the way that your client likes to maintain contact if at all, and try to customize that experience for your client.
     
  8. Dress well and look good. We like it when our server is put together and clients like it when you are too. Look the part.
     
  9. Ensure that all your systems are working, whether client-facing or not. Most people in our industry are impatient. Few of us have tolerance for technology letdowns. Make sure your technology functions and everything works when you're near the client.
     
  10. Be up front with the client. If there's a delay in the kitchen, the waitstaff should tell the customer. The best thing to do is to explain the problem in detail and ask if there’s anything you can do to make things right for the client. In the restaurant world it might be a free drink or appetizer. Find the equivalent in your business and offer it generously. If you don't have an equivalent offer, create one or simply provide free professional time as your fall back.
     
  11. Make sure other customers are not getting in the way of great customer service. It actually bothers me when a lawyer tells me they're busy or can’t get to something because they're servicing another client. You wouldn't want to hear that from your waitstaff anymore than you want to hear from your lawyer. Insulate your clients from knowledge of other clients. Make them feel like they're the only one.
     
  12. Please take notes. I'm impressed when waitstaff try to remember an order of more than a person or two, but I am also completely stressed out that they are going to forget. So, it's just not fun for me. Writing things down in our business is just polite even if you can remember what someone is telling you.
     
  13. Status me. I like to know how things are going, and I find our clients like to know the same. If my order is coming right up, please tell me.
     
  14. Do I have the right utencils? If you serve me pie without at least a fork, I'm not going to be happy. If we send a draft PowerPoint trial presentation to our client in a version they don't have, they rightly get annoyed too. We ask first or we develop for an older version of PowerPoint.
     
  15. Say "thank you." It it such an easy thing to do, and it goes a long way. Write notes. Buy lunch. No matter what, always find a way to say it.
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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technology, Pricing, Customer Service, Trial Boards

Litigators, You Deserve Ritz-Carlton-Level Service

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, May 7, 2013 @ 08:00 AM


ritz carlton customer service litigation support a2l consultingby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Some companies have justifiably built a reputation for extraordinary customer service. Ritz-Carlton is one of them, but not everyone has had the opportunity to test that reputation in real life. As it happens, I recently put Ritz-Carlton to the test while I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Maui, Hawaii. It’s a lovely place, and my wife and I chose the Club Level for our stay.

But as can happen even at a Ritz-Carlton, some things went wrong. Actually, a lot of things went wrong. The club level was unexpectedly bought out by an unnamed VIP, and when my wife and I checked in for what was supposed to be our first real vacation without our triplets since our honeymoon in 2006, the front desk staff let us know that we would not be receiving the five meals per day and adult beverages associated with a Ritz-Carlton club level stay.

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Well, I am a Ritz-Carlton vet, and I knew what this meant. I didn't need to switch into lawyer mode. On the contrary, I knew that I just needed to give them the room to make things right. And that is exactly what they did.

We were upgraded (big time), we received free meals, free drinks, discounts on what was already paid for, and, most importantly, the personalized touch of the managers, who worked diligently to make things right.

Vacation for me is a time of reflection, and I could not help but reflect on how Ritz-Carlton has systematized this level of service and indeed made it the focus of its culture. And this made me ask: As my own firm’s founder and CEO, how well would A2L Consulting live up to Ritz-Carlton standards?

Here are several of the Ritz-Carlton's principles of service, a subset of their Gold Standards, that I think are especially relevant for litigators, trial teams and a litigation consulting firm like ours. Can everyone in my company say these things as well? I hope they can.

  • I build strong relationships and create guests for life.
  • I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  • I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  • I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  • I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
  • I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company's confidential information and assets.

As a litigator or litigation support professional, imagine if every one of your outside support firms exhibited only these six principles (translated for our industry of course) in every engagement. How good would that feel?  I know I would love it if I could get this level of performance from vendors that we rely on - but all too often it's hard, right?

Well, I'm definitively declaring that any customer of A2L can expect to receive litigation consulting services, whether jury/trial consulting, litigation graphics or courtroom technical support, that are consistent with these Ritz-Carlton values. I think we get it right most of the time, and when something goes awry, we work hard to make it right - as quickly as we can. And I ask, why wouldn't you expect that from a litigation consulting firm?

Remember, you probably know what Ritz-Carlton-level service looks like, right?  Well so do I, and it's what I ask our social scientists, litigators, information designers and trial techs to provide.
 

Other articles and resources on A2L Consulting's site that you may find helpful:

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Tags: Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Support, Articles, Customer Service

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Authors

KenLopez resized 152

Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


tony-klapper-headshot-500x500.jpg 

Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@a2lc.com.


dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting







Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D., Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

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