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The Analysis Behind the Transactions: "Why People Buy"

Why Do People Buy?

There are almost 2 million attorneys in the United States. Why would someone choose you to represent them? There are the obvious reasons:

If you look closely, those are reasons that make you the only choice. What about a world where there are many choices? How do you separate yourself from the others?

People Buy from People

People will choose you to represent their interests because they decide to do so within three minutes of meeting you. The subconscious decision will be made, and the reasons to continue to deal with you will be justified at every juncture. Here are some things to remember.

People buy or deal with individuals similar to themselves in:

Some sales guides instruct you to emulate the client across from you to encourage them to identify with you. Some of these suggestions may or may not work. Overall, the client has to identify with you in order to build trust.

Building Trust

Some of the obvious issues in building trust are those we grew up with. Honesty, straightforwardness, and integrity are character traits others use to judge us. If you lose that or if the perception is that you are too far off the median line in your judgments (which in business equates to dollars and cents), the client becomes nervous. That is one reason why clients have multiple law firms representing them and do not give all their work exclusively to one firm. There is especially a concern if a "house of cards" crumbles (i.e., merges with another firm, is sold, or dissolves). The client is selfish in his or her motives. They will protect their business under all circumstances, and rightly so.

Getting the Business Is Easier than Keeping It

I always chuckled when attorneys would boast to me about representing one major builder or another, claiming exclusivity in that relationship. Another firm would claim the same prestige. The truth is that the business was widely scattered among the market share. Certainly, one firm may have had an area of expertise another firm did not. The problem is that most everyone thought they were in an exclusive relationship. The business reality is that a corporate entity is not going to put all its eggs in one basket.

As a legal provider, the problem with providing the legal service to a client is that if it is a reputable client, every other firm is after that business as well. It is difficult not to be looking over your shoulder and protecting that business. Even if you provided an exclusive relationship, someone is always after your piece of the pie. What are some of the things you can do to keep or build a larger portion of the business for yourself?

People Buy from Those Who Can Advance Their Position

Although this might seem obvious, your client may not be an owner. He or she may be a person making the decision for the company. When this occurs, you must be aware of the dangers within that situation.

In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, safety is a human primary need. You do not progress on to the next need until that first one has been satisfied. I am here to tell you that people will not choose you if you do not make them feel secure. They are always worried about losing their job. Yes, being fired is the number-one concern of that corporate-executive or not. If they think you will fail, you will not be engaged as a service provider.

This is not to say errors or slips will never occur. They do in any relationship. Make a judgment of the person. This is important to your performance and future with this company. Do they overreact? Do they make emotional decisions? Are they erratic? These are important to recognize if you are to survive the relationship-much less provide legal skill.

Try to enjoy the practice of law and engaging clients in a professional relationship. Be yourself. If a client is unbearably difficult, it may warrant sharing the account with another attorney. We have all dealt with these individuals who are exhausting. There is nothing wrong with passing along the "hot potato." We will discuss this again later.

Why Clients Do or Do Not Return to a Service Provider

"People don't go away mad. They just go away." Believe in those words! They are the wisdom behind a client's motivation or lack of motivation to continue to do business with you or your firm.

Can you get and please each client? No. Get over that immediately. But believe that you can get a large percentage of clients to do business with you. There will always be fallout and clients who do business with other firms. Learn that you do not have to accept that. You can continue and develop relationships over many years.

I frequently tell a story of a client (who was not yet a client) that I remained in contact with for five years. Finally, one day he left me a voicemail asking for an appointment to meet-he would commit all of his business to me. Do we have five years to build a book of business and develop an individual franchise? Of course not. Believe it or not, business development is an ongoing process of developing relationships. Here are some misconceptions:

What Keeps Clients Loyal?

Why would a client be loyal to one firm? What would keep those billables moving along each month?

Why Are Clients Disloyal?

A key to understanding business development is thoroughly understanding human behavior. A trait that is common to high-achievers is that they take all losses personally and assign failure to themselves. However, keep in mind that people are all different. You may or may not have a true understanding of why a person chooses not to do business with you. Believe it or not, some of the following will be the underlying impetus for not doing business with you or your firm:

The key is not to get 100 percent of the business in the world, but to get a larger percentage than you have now or than you thought you were capable of getting. The fundamental of business development is that there is a growth and maturation to becoming the best you can become. It should be fun and rewarding for you to exercise that power you have within you to develop yourself. It will shock you to know that you have so much strength beyond merely knowledge or subject matter. This will become a challenge that will frighten you at first and then become a game within your business life. The only limits are those you impose. You have to keep beating and challenging yourself to climb this mountain of success.