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Developing a What’s Next Mindset
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Business Development Strategy

Developing a What’s Next Mindset

By Tea Hoffmann

Let’s face it, lawyers are competitive, hardworking multitaskers who are deadline driven. After all, to be successful with clients and move up the partnership track, these traits are almost essential. A lot of us create a daily to-do list and are thrilled by the simple act of crossing off a task or, conversely, stressed out when tasks remain at the end of the day. And many, including me, are so anxious to cross off tasks that they write a task on their to-do list after they complete it just so they can mark it off!

Slow Down: Thinking Through Next Steps Can Lead to More Business

This task-oriented mindset often precludes opportunities to think through possible next steps and follow-up strategies. For example, let’s assume you discover a client’s non-compete agreement, used in all 50 states, is not valid in one of the states for whatever reason. The obvious task is to let the client know and correct the agreement for the state where you know there is an issue. Alternatively, a lawyer with a “What’s Next” mindset will suggest a review of the current agreement against the standards in all 50 states to ensure compliance and avoid future issues. The client will appreciate the offer and proactive thinking whether or not they take you up on your suggestion.

Similarly, a What’s Next mindset can be a differentiator in your business development efforts. For example, many lawyers have a prospect list. When I ask how they have interacted with those prospects, many say they have done lunch or had a similar meeting with their targets. Few, however, have followed up in a way that is strategic.

They haven’t thought What’s Next.

A What’s Next Mindset Is Key to Business Relationships

Transforming prospects into clients requires this mindset. Typically it takes up to eight interactions, done over the course of six to 18 months, to convert a prospect to a client and only 20 percent of your prospects (in my opinion) will become clients. So, with every touch, you must think of the next step in furthering the relationship and customize the follow-up for each prospect.

So, How Do You Develop a What’s Next Mindset?

What's Next Mindset Post-It NoteHere are a few tips:

  • Never mark off a task or dismiss an opportunity without asking what’s next. I have my clients write “What’s Next?” on a Post-it and attach it to their computer monitor as a visual reminder.
  • Become a better listener. Note anything the prospect or client may say that is of interest or that might be a door to additional opportunity. Add this in their contact information so you can use it going forward.
  • Think more broadly. Your role is not to just complete a task for the client. Your role is to build a solid relationship over time with clients and prospects. Can you introduce them to someone you know who might use their product or service, or invite them to an event they would enjoy based on your conversations with them?
  • Execute your What’s Next strategy. Schedule and block off time to do next steps and follow-ups. These tasks are just as important as anything else on your calendar. Thinking about what’s next is important but the execution is critical.

What’s Next thinking and follow-through can accelerate your practice, lead to more meaningful interactions and help you convert more prospects.

So, what’s next?

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Tea Hoffmann Tea Hoffmann

Tea Hoffmann is managing principal at Law Strategy Corp., a consulting and coaching practice focused on helping lawyers and firms make the changes necessary to become more profitable, strategic and focused. LSC provides law firm training, coaching, retreat presentations and strategic planning. Tea is a former practicing lawyer who has served as a GC for a publicly traded company, a CBDO at an AmLaw 100 firm, and chief strategy officer at an AmLaw 200 firm. She is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. Tea also serves in the Tennessee Army National Guard where she is a major with over 20 years of service. Email Tea at teahoffmann@lawstrategycorp.com.

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