There are hundreds of reasons not to call your client—and at least 5 reasons you should. The opportunities to help clients during the final months of the year are 10 times greater than at the beginning. As the corporate world draws to its annual close, the race to complete both the expected and unexpected hits overdrive.
Your extra brain power, a touch of empathy, and especially a set of smart arms and legs, go a long way to adding more value than at any other time. Here are 5 ways to do it:
1. Help expedite the deluge of management requests arriving now through year end
2. Pinpoint what your client is going to start on in the new year
3. Learn how the legal budget approval went (or is going)
4. Clean up year-end issues—including your bills
5. Set the right tone for the upcoming year
Every client receives almost unending year-end requests from management
Top management are looking at the end of the year. They are figuring out the 4th quarter and want to get it right. This means top management want certain estimates—especially for litigation budgets and exposure. They want select documents signed and completed. (Fortunately, some agreements will be pushed into next year.) They also want to confirm the final legal spending estimate for the year. You can help clients plan, prioritize, and streamline—maybe offer an associate to help.
Pinpoint what your client is going to start on in the new year
Your client has a plan and priorities. Ask about them now while you can get out ahead and offer help. Ask your client how they plan to start the new year; what resources they have and need; or if they see any obstacles in their path. Offer suggestions on prioritizing and streamlining, a billable associate, or a secondment to get their priorities started in an expedient manner.
Learn how the corporate legal budget approval went (or is going)
Some corporate legal budgets for next year are already approved. Ask your clients what the budget looks like and how it is different from last year. Probe as to how it will impact priorities and resources. Are they receiving more or less? Start mapping out a clear plan to provide resources and to help execute the plan. Make suggestions on how to make up any shortfall—maybe it’s time for an alternative fee?
Check to see if your client has the resources to meet their top priorities for next year. Helping clients leverage their budgets is like giving them free money—the more they can stretch their budgets, the better they look.
Year-end clean up
Every client requires year-end wrap up. This could include filings, internal memos, management updates, preparing top management for reporting and disclosures, and a host of other needs. Ask about these now, while there is still time for you to help your client avoid a fire drill.
Establish the right tone for the upcoming year
Clients want to get things done. They can accomplish more for the entire year by starting with a burst of energy. You can provide the fuel propelling their meaningful and important goals early on. Clients tell us such acts as helping to fill open positions, providing due diligence checklists for newly M&A minded clients, developing a risk assessment tool for litigation-heavy or compliance-minded clients are especially helpful. You can kick off the new year with an important CLE tailored for your client—and let the other law firms serving them wonder how to match it.
Clients expect your year-end call for collections. This stages the opportunity to surprise and delight them by asking how you can help, which has the effect of getting you paid much faster—one of the underrecognized benefits of a strong client relationship which these calls are proven to build.