A quote commonly ascribed to Mark Twain says: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Attending law firm marketing conferences reminds me of that quote. Those who do not bill time and who do not face clients and prospective clients talk ad nauseum about client-provider dynamics, value, and about lawyers’ deficiencies in interpersonal skills, business acumen and project management. In this, the premier football week of the year, I’d like to observe that marketing and business development people who do not go to the point of service, or the point of sale, are akin to sideline reporters, who know the rules and who observe and comment, but don’t really understand the game.

Heading into 2013, I challenge those in the field of law firm sales and marketing to insert themselves into the client-facing lineup, so that we can develop a true understanding of the game. This, I believe, will better inform our commentary and almost certainly make us a bit more forgiving of those who have been on the field all along – the lawyers.

As part of this exercise, it’s time for us to stop just talking about value, and start adding it. I’ve been thinking of specific ways that sales and marketers can take responsibility for adding value, and hopefully in the days ahead, I’ll share some of these ideas. Here is the first one. Connect the dots. In-house lawyers, like every employee at a commercial enterprise, are expected to focus on revenue and profit. These in-house counsel improve their corporate standing and job security when they land, or significantly help to land, new customers, or when their actions shore up relations with existing customers. Those who are in the law firm sales and marketing business have a good handle on , and perhaps relationships with , executives at the law firm’s other clients and prospective clients. With just a little thought, it would be easy for any of us with a sales and/or marketing role to identify potential leads for our in-house counsel friends, and to connect the dots, helping them get credit for new sales and customer up-sells. At very little incremental cost to the law firm, business developers can add tremendous and tangible value for our clients… in a way that truly shows up on in-house counsel’s scoreboard.

If you have ideas of ways that law firm sales and marketing people can add value at the point of sale or service, please add a comment to this blog post.

Next up: helping in-house counsel manage their reputations