I’m often amazed at how little strategic thinking lawyers give to new client selection. It is one of the reasons I created the Client Worthiness Index, and is also why I’m sharing my New Client Strategy Plan (.pdf).
The New Client Strategy Plan is a worksheet that I’ve been using in law firm retreats for a few months. It is loosely based on the wonderful Business Model Generation Canvas, and is designed to get lawyers ask client-focused questions of themselves and their peers before signing (or even targeting) a new client.
It is divided into nine areas, each which asks a series of client-focused questions. The areas (and supplemental questions) are:
Who will do their work?
- What is the work and who will do it?
- What support do they need to get it done?
- Will they need additional lawyers or staff?
What else can we do for them?
- What other opportunities are there for new work?
- Are there additional legal services they may need?
- Who else in the firm should meet with them?
Where do they need us?
- Are we in a location that serves them well?
- Should we be located elsewhere?
What technology do they demand?
What must we get better at?
- What legal and non-legal skills must we improve?
- How will we learn those skills?
- How might we measure our improvement?
How do they pay for it?
- Do they want to be billed by the hour?
- Can we price our services differently?
- How would they design our pricing?
Who are their key decision makers?
- Who must we convince to hire us?
- How will we find them?
- What do they want to know about us?
Why won’t they hire us?
- What are the roadblocks to hiring us?
- Who will be our key competitors?
- What should we worry most about?
What must we change?
- What things in our firm must we change?
- Will our firm structure support their needs?
- Does our compensation plan reward the behaviors that serve them best?
If there are additional (or better) questions you think I should be asking, let me know.
And the next time you’re strategizing about serving a new client, print out a New Client Strategy Plan (.pdf) and fill it out. Even better, complete one with your best, existing client in mind. You might be shocked to find you don’t have all the answers you thought you did.