Like inside counsel, I collaborate with other decision-makers inside the firm to buy stuff — stuff that will help us be more effective in generating awareness of the firm and in creating more and more-profitable sales. Every day, my inbox is filled with solicitations, ranging from technology, to information, training, advertising and more. Just like many outside lawyers approaching inside counsel, most of the vendors who want me to invest my time seem hidebound to tell me about their offerings without understanding the context of where we are, where we are going, and what we already have done. All of the offerings presented to me are in direct competition with the offerings of other vendors. Some of the offerings are in direct competition with internal competencies and tools. But we already have an array of outside vendors. We already have a deeply experienced sales force who can and do conduct training and coaching. We already have a sophisticated law firm website. We already have sales and marketing research tools and personnel. We already have great sales and marketing technology. We already have highly skilled external communications professionals and editorial relationships. Et cetera ad infinitum. Under these circumstances, making a change is, in the words of a pundit, “a view not worth the climb.”
As with outside lawyers approaching clients and potential clients, to make an impact with me, vendors need to demonstrate that they understand the specific challenges that my department faces. Because this firm is well down the marketing and sales pathway, our challenges are not the same as the challenges faced by other law firm marketing departments. The good news for those who can hold off on pushing product and work to understand the nuances of our world is that I am willing to invest the time to explain. If we can get past the pap, I’m willing to contemplate new ideas and solutions. In fact, my future depends on my ability to bring them into play.
As with inside counsel, I’ve got a day job, and I’m not universally available. it’s not going to be easy or quick to transform me into a buyer. But for vendors who honor my workload, invest in understanding our challenges and our buying processes, shape their offerings to meet our specific needs, and do so in a way that adds value that I can “sell” to management, we just may get something cookin’.
Just a hunch, but I’m guessing that a lot of inside counsel feel the same when it comes to outside law firms.