Creating recurring inbound leads is a skill. Master this skill and you will control your career and opportunities — and make rain.
Rainmakers all have their favorite strategies and tactics. I want to focus on three you can learn and adopt now. These are:
1. Serial Needs = Serial Leads
Rainmakers are skilled in finding and attracting clients with ongoing higher-value needs. They know developing clients with a continuing lead flow generates substantially more business than those with episodic needs.
Strong relationships with these marquee clients is a primary reason why Kirkland and Ropes & Gray are so successful in Private Equity — one of the ultimate client groups with serial needs.
These clients aren’t always the largest — any size company can have ongoing needs — the trick is to focus on the continuing nature of the work. You likely have a few of these clients in your current client base.
You can also research the velocity of new litigation, M&A, and regulatory issue at each client. Industry spending patterns also give you insight. Financial Services are the top legal spenders with ongoing needs — followed by big Pharma, Tech, Telecom Health Care, and Food.
2. Never Fill the Silence
Every high-quality business development meeting has a moment of silence. You just got through sharing an idea or approach and your client may have debated some of the points. And then comes the silence.
It is not the awkward staring at you from across the table silence — it’s the client thinking through the discussion silence. There is nothing awkward about it. Rainmakers have trained themselves to resist the urge to fill the silence. You want your client to process your ideas in real time. It shows they are engaged and have learned something.
Filling the silence stops client processing in its tracks and cuts off their engagement. Most clients will continue the dialogue after they have finished processing — or you can read the non-verbal cues to know when to ask the all-important question: What do you think?
3. Always There — Even When They Are Not
Rich, meaningful voice communication — during and in between matters — are the unsung heroes of making yourself feel present to your clients. One deep conversation creates a connection lasting from months to years. These conversations also give license to engage in informal email communications — including check-ins, sharing news, offering thoughts on new developments, and maybe a few personal items.
Your presence in a client’s life is core to developing a stream of business from a single client. The attorneys who are client-life adjacent to clients get the RFPs. The attorneys with presence get the phone calls and queries for help — and don’t go out for bid.
Rainmakers will tell you a smaller number of clients where you are deeply present end up generating a flow of inbound leads from client referrals — almost as good as a client with serial needs.
You can adopt these tactics tomorrow. Select one client. Uncover the clients with more ongoing needs than others through client feedback, disclosures buried in the selected proxy statement, using 3rd party research services to measure client litigation caseloads, and searches of legal and trade publications.
Practice deep conversation skills with peers or a coach. You can also read about the art of the phone conversation here.
Firms can apply these strategies, especially targeting clients with ongoing needs — by practice and office — to help the firm drive growth and help create more rainmakers.