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Well Said

Converting Post-Speech Inquiries: The Follow-Up Email and Phone Call

By Mike O'Horo

How do you manage a post-speech chat with someone who chooses to tell you how the problem you spoke about affects their company, and convert it into a solid opportunity?

Last month in “Convert Post-Speech Inquires into Real Demand,” I showed you how to greet and interact with the group of people who approach you after a speech. Your goal being to have a few words with each of them, but graciously keep them moving. More importantly, you learned how to shift that conversation to a better time and venue where you could conduct a proper sales investigation.

So, How Do You Develop Those Opportunities?

So far, your public remarks motivated Steve to speak with you to explore possible solutions to that problem. He agreed to schedule a specific date and time to have that discussion.

However, Steve’s decision to approach you does not mean:

  • He’ll actually decide to take action to solve the problem.
  • He’ll invest enough money to make a meaningful difference.
  • He’ll be able to get others with a stake in the problem to reach agreement to take action.
  • If they do take action to solve the problem, that it will be anytime soon.
  • If they take action to solve the problem, that they’ll prefer your solution approach.
  • If they prefer your solution approach, that they’ll hire you to implement it.

That’s what the rest of your decision-facilitation process is for.

So, what does Steve’s invitation to meet mean? Only that he’s willing to discuss the company-specific version of the industry-specific problem you’ve associated yourself with.

The Call Request Email

Here’s your email to set up the conversation that Steve welcomed:

Subject: Met, chatted @ IBA conference re: employees moving to competitors

Hi, Steve:

We met at the IBA conference when you approached me after my presentation about how, in a hot space, key technical and sales people move between competitors, taking important knowledge with them. You said your company had experienced that already, that you’re concerned about what those who left took with them in their heads and how their new employers might use it to your detriment.

You thought it made sense for us to discuss this privately. When might be convenient?



P.S. There is good news and bad news on this front. The bad news is that there are more types of risks than generally recognized. The good news is that there are also more ways to protect the company than most people are aware of.

The Phone Call

And here’s your template for the actual phone conversation:

Jane: “Hi, Steve. When we chatted at the IBA Conference you thought it made sense for us to spend a little time exploring the risks associated with talent moving between competitors. Is that conversation still worthwhile?”

Steve: “Yes. Thanks for asking. You intrigued me when you said that incoming talent was just as much of a risk.”

Jane: “The risks associated with departing employees are pretty well understood. However, too few companies think about the risks associated with the employees they attract from competitors. The people you recruit bring as many risks with them as you face with those you lose.”

Steve: “What do you mean?”

Jane: “You said that you had lost and gained some people already. What kind of people have you lost, and how many?”

Steve: “Not so many. Only one sales guy, and one engineer, but both took some very specialized knowledge with them in their heads, and both went to the competitor.”

Jane: “What kind of ‘specialized knowledge’?”

Steve: “Well, the engineer was working on some new capability that we’re counting on to give us a big leg up on our competition. The sales guy has relationships with some of our most important channels. I’m assuming that’s why they were offered so much money to move.”

Jane: “I can see how losing key people would be really irritating, but how has it negatively impacted you, specifically?”

Steve will now describe the practical, observable, negative effects and impacts of the employees transferring to a competitor. And, now that you’ve defined the company-specific flavor of your industry-specific door-opener problem, you’re ready to learn if this problem has sufficient impact to require Steve to take action, accept risk and invest money. If it doesn’t, he won’t — and you’ll waste all your selling time.

Since you’ll charge Steve real money to solve the problem, you next need to help Steve define these negative impacts in dollar terms. That will make it easy for him to recognize the likely return on your legal fees. A simple process called “The Cost of Doing Nothing will reliably enable you to do just that.

Illustration ©

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Mike O’Horo Mike O'Horo

Known as “The Coach” throughout his long career, Mike O’Horo was a giant among his peers in legal marketing and business development. He trained more than 7,000 lawyers, simplifying powerful sales processes by which they generated $1.5 billion in new business. A serial innovator, earlier he developed RainmakerVT, a virtual BD training tool, and the sales training program ResultsPath. He wrote his column, “Well Said!,” on sales and business development truths for lawyers. Mike passed away in February 2022.

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