Law firms are in the business of service. In fact, serving client needs, while also finding more of those clients to serve, is the foundation of revenue growth, sustainability and profitability for firms of all sizes and practice areas. Yet, approaching the business side of law with that same service mindset can be seen as an unconventional view for law firms to take.
GrowthPlay, a professional services sales consulting firm, is working to change that. Deborah Knupp, the Managing Director of GrowthPlay, challenges law firms to elevate the act of selling to an act of service to generate revenue.
“Even the language of ‘how do I get more of your business’ reflects how the traditional sales approach is a takers game,” says Knupp. “When this traditional approach is upended by an ethos of sales as an act of service, pursuing revenue from the client or prospect perspective feels like a giver’s game. What if you could generate revenue and develop a value-creating reputation, while building relationships as you pursue revenue?”
Authentic Relationships Outside of the Firm
For 20 years, GrowthPlay has worked with law firms through training and coaching programs designed to address common issues related to selling, client management, leadership philosophy, general management and communication. Supported by research and field experience, they suggest firms embrace the following six pillars of excellence in the client experience:
About Deborah Knupp
Deb Knupp is a Managing Director for GrowthPlay – a consulting firm that inspires clients to achieve their growth potential through actionable research-backed strategies accelerate revenue, improve client loyalty and motivate talent around a shared vision of success. Additionally, Deb leads the The HX Collective, an initiative that has identified humanity-centered design as a next-level method to generate mutually abundant and positive outcomes for people and organizations.
- Authentic relationship investments through invitations, introductions and insight sharing to help clients flourish in their work and personal lives.
- Business intelligence gathering, sharing and collaborating to help clients flourish in their companies, differentiate themselves from competition and delight their customers.
- Proactive and predictive communication cadence to ensure alignment and manage client expectations.
- Surprise and delight through client appreciation efforts to express gratitude and honor.
- Exceptional client intake and client feedback programs to access the “voice of the client” for continuous improvement.
- Client-centric billing and fee care seeking to align cost with value and to ensure clients are never surprised by an invoice.
But building authentic relationships takes time — a resource that attorneys and legal professionals often lack. Time-sensitive client needs, billable hour expectations and a changing and evolving business development landscape can make it difficult for attorneys and legal management teams to be intentional about how and where they spend their time. Building relationships with clients can lead to revenue growth — but first it begins with law firm leadership prioritizing relationships with their own employees.
Authentic Relationships Within the Firm
Relationship building within firms became more difficult, but also increasingly more important, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a multitude of changes, but none more glaring than the change to daily firm operations as employees moved into remote and hybrid work environments. In Knupp’s ongoing work with clients during this time, she saw that professional leadership teams across a variety of industries were facing new challenges in striking the right balance between continued revenue growth and employee well-being.
“The pandemic created a real moment of sobriety for me around the profound themes of suffering and loss that were showing up everywhere,” Knupp says. “I then further started to recognize that leaders (most very well-meaning) from all around the world were attempting to design solutions to respond and repair these losses, yet were using old playbooks that are rooted in faulty mindsets and belief that what has worked well in the past will surely work well in the future. …Like a lot of people, I felt the overwhelming need to do something.”
In response, Knupp and her colleagues launched The HX Collective, a robust community of big thinkers and designers who are united in mission to elevate human flourishing. Knupp says to her, human flourishing means helping human beings become the best versions of themselves and experience the impact of their full potential through authentic relationships.
To reach that mission, The HX Collective has a two-part focus: 1) to curate tools, techniques and best practices to give humanity a seat at the table when engaging in experience-led initiatives for clients, employees and revenue; 2) to launch a research initiative to study trauma, resilience and recovery to prepare and equip organizations for the looming shadow pandemic and mental health crisis left behind by the pandemic.
This new endeavor prioritizes the relationships businesses have with their own employees by applying the HX (human experience) design principal to the employee experience. When firm leadership is mindful of the human side to employees, they are equipping, encouraging and engaging their employees to bring their whole selves to work and are providing as much focus on well-being as job performance.
To do that, Knupp says firms can ensure that law firm benefit plans have robust provisions for mental health; invest in employees as they pursue community service or social justice; and create a culture that knows how to communicate and respond to employees when there is personal crisis, suffering and grieving are all ways firms can focus on employee well-being.
When firms operate with a relationships first mindset, human flourishing — for clients, firm employees, and ultimately the firm itself — are set to take place.
For more from Deb, join us on Tuesday, October 26 for her SFP Huddle, Relationships to Revenue: How Authenticity and Generosity Accelerate Growth.
Community Manager, The Successful Firm Project
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