3 Big Issues Facing Law Firms and Ways to Overcome Them

In addition to doing all the hard work it takes to be a lawyer, people have outrageous expectations of what a lawyer does today. They have to be great communicators. Lawyers need to be experts in the law — very probably in more than one type — with diverse peer groups to pass off specialty requests. They need to be available at the drop of a hat and instantly provide counsel when it’s most needed.

Those challenges are enough, but the new lawyer has to also exceed in items probably not in the average law firm’s wheelhouse.conferenceroom_medium

Your clients want your firm to be a fast food restaurant — easy access, price and billing.

According to the BusinessofLawBlog, clients want to be in the driver’s seat. They want upfront pricing with information about what they get for that consulting. It’s almost as if they expect a menu of options with a price tag attached to each one. They expect it to be clear and understandable without even talking to you, too.

With new websites like Legalzoom and self-service legal advice around everything from starting a business to creating a will, you may need to think creatively about how you compete. Estimated pricing based on your billable hours usually helps. But some law firms and lawyers are considering value-based pricing instead of hourly. This has factored in how much time you think it’ll take to complete work and what your billable hours is ahead of time. There are definitely pros and cons and you and your law firm should weigh which one is right for you and your organization.

Technology

Many big law firms have IT employees devoted to keeping up with servers and systems as well as manage the risk around them. Smaller companies rely on outsourcing and may not be as equipped to handle technology.

And yet in this digital age, not only do you have to understand much of how to store documents, but also how to pick audio conferencing services. That’s a wide variance! If you bill by the hour,  selecting an audio conferencing vendor is easy as there aren’t that many options. Flat-fee, value-based pricing structures enable more variety.

Probably like how you recommend other law firms or companies for related guidance, think about the companies you want to work with who can provide expertise and counsel when you need them.

Marketing

Although there was never the Perry Mason word-of-mouth marketing in law, competition wasn’t as cut-throat back then as it is today. Differentiating your law firm, other than by specialty, is hard. (And sometimes even by specialty can be a challenge.) How do you explain to your clients that you are better at customer service than a competitor, which is why you charge more? Or how do you provide your firm’s combined expertise so they understand the years of law behind your partners? What if you or your firm is new, how do you provide information about what kind of counsel you provide people.

Enter the traditional marketer who’s looking at your value proposition and ways you stand out, figuring out your core audience, and determining the best ways to sell to them. Again, if you’re not from a megalaw company, you may be wearing a marketing hat, too.

Webinars and webcasts are easy ways to provide advice to potential clients, especially related to your expertise. For example, if you’re firm specializes in intellectual property, providing a high-level overview about the dos and don’ts could lead to the type of clients you want.

Hang in there

Being a lawyer is hard and getting harder daily. But with expertise and counsel available to you, you’ll overcome some of the bigger challenges you face even if you’re not biglaw. And if you are, you can still embrace agility to compete with newer firms.

Put the Me in Meetings to Save Time and Money

When each of us go to meetings these days, we rarely discuss what we’re looking for or what objective we’re trying to meet. But take any training and the first thing they’ll address after where the bathrooms are — your objectives.

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According to Industry Week 30% of managers said their meetings were unproductive. That’s a high number of dissatisfied people. Especially when you consider that — on average — we spend 26 business days meeting.

Don’t waste your time or others

Your time costs the company money. It’s okay to treat it as important as well as the time of other employees. If you don’t need to be there or have questions, you should ask.

How to Fix Your Scrum MeetingsSo how do you bow out of a meeting without being a jerk? It depends. For open cultures who value honesty and integrity, you can tell someone what you’re looking for. You know they’ll answer honestly and at that point you can ditch the meeting if it’s not helpful. For less open cultures, respond to the organizer and verify you’ll get what you need. Maybe a question like, “I’m hoping we’ll cover ____. Do you think you’ll have time?”

Can it be solved by an email or quick phone call?

We love meetings, but sometimes another communication tool is better. A quick phone call, email or even chat — otherwise known as Instant Message (IM) — may get you the information you need without disrupting the meeting’s agenda.

Monologue or dialogue

Do you need to ask questions? Share information yourself? Or do you need just a status update? That determines whether the meeting host can provide an update or whether you need a two-way conversation — dialogue.

Most meetings are a dialog — two-way or more engagement among attendees and host. Consider whether you need to fully collaborate and whether you have the right tools. Do you need to share your document real-time? Do you need to share your screen?

Stop multitasking

If you need to be at the meeting, give the presenter your undivided attention. If you can’t because of other deadlines or tasks, rethink whether you’re needed.

The data is in — multitasking doesn’t work; it reduces attention to the tasks being performed. CNN indicates that research shows driving while talking or listening can reduce your driving skill by 37%. In fact, the report that only 2% of the population are super multitaskers — people who are effective of doing more than one thing at once.

Need other ideas for improving meetings?

You may hate meetings, but at ReadyTalk we have a passion in making sure your meeting goes off without a hitch.

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‘How to Launch a Product’ Blog Series: Arm Your Sales Team

Once the Messaging Strategy Document (MSD) has been finalized.  It time to start creating tools that will assist sales in selling the product or service.  

Types of Sales Enablement Tools

There are two types of sales enablement tools – internal and external.   Internal tools are documents that get created for sales that they do not share outside the company.  External tools are created to share with prospects, partners, customers and others outside of the company.  Not every launch has every single component listed below, but rather you work with the key stakeholders to determine what this launch will need.

Internal sales enablement tools:

  • Personas
    • You may have user and buyer personas.  User personas are created usually to get a better understanding and get into the shoes of the person that will be using your technology or product.  You want to understand what a day in their life looks like, what technologies do they use, how would they use your technology, what are their pain points, etc.  Buyer personas may or may not be the same as your user persona.   Buyer personas are the people that are buying your product or service.  Creating these personas help you develop messaging and positioning so you know exactly how to talk to the various segments.
  • Use cases
    • Use cases are how the personas use the product or service. It’s the set of actions between the system and the user for a particular environment.   
  • Training content
    • You will want to understand who will be trained so you can develop the appropriate training content.  This will include all customer-facing employees usually – sales, account management, and customer care.  I generally include an overview, target audience, their pain points, messaging, how it stacks up against the competition and what sales tools were created that sales can use.
  • FAQs
    • Work with Product Management to come up with a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  For internal FAQs, you may include all the questions that sales, account management or customer care might have and the answers.
  • Playbook
    • A playbook is basically everything included in training, but in a handout.  It might also include sales cycle, buying titles, sales scenarios and scripts.
  • Scripts
    • If you have a product that can be demo’d, include a script that tells sales step-by-step instructions to do the demo, what the key benefits are and data points to prove out the benefits.  Example: Here’s our new video product, it’s ridiculously simple and allows everyone to feel engaged whether they are in the room or not.  Did you know 60% of remote employees do not feel engaged.

Team - Stocksy_txp72c288a83O4000_Medium_174805External sales enablement tools:

  • Data sheet or brochure
    • This can be printed or digital and describes the product or service, what the key benefits are and include information about how to contact sales.
  • Web page
    • Add a page to the website that provides an overview of the product or service, some key benefits with a call to action.
  • Customer communication
    • This can be done in-app if you have that built in  to the product or use a 3rd party engagement software.   In-app notifications would notify the user of new features.  If you do not have the ability to do that in-app, you can update product release notes and send an email communication to customers.
  • Prospect communication
    • If there is a relevant group of prospects, you can send an email to let them know that you now have a product/feature that they were requesting or include them based on title or other criteria.
  • Blog
    • Create a blog post noting what problem this new product or feature solves.
  • Presentation
    • Create a presentation for sales and account management to use
  • Product feature video
    • You can create a promotional video to highlight the product or even a tour of how the product works.
  • Webinars
    • Webinars are great for lead gen.  Put one together around what pain point your product solves and get customers to participate and tell how they use your product.
  • Public Relations
    • PR helps you get the word out. Draft a press release and try to get a customer quote to include.  
  • Social media
    • Use your social media outlets to let people know about your new product.

Using an integrated marketing approach, enables you to tell your story through a lot of different media and marketing channels.

Next up, how to create internal awareness for your new product or service.

Bring Your Child to Your Remote Office

April 28 is Bring Your Child to Work Day. You don’t work in a traditional office. Maybe you’re in sales — constantly on-the-go living by your mobile device — or you work from home where you telecommute. Your kids have talked about how their friends get to see what their mom or dad do for a living, traveling into their parent’s office.

Why not take your child to your remote office?

Just because you’re working remote doesn’t mean your child can’t join you, gaining valuable information from you about working. In fact, it’s important to spend time helping the next generation of workers by providing insight and guidance into how work is done. It prepares your child for what they do after high school or college.

Discuss Policies

If you report into a traditional office, talk with your manager about remote working opportunities for your child even for a half-day, following what HR is introducing for children in the office. Be prepared to discuss how your child will help and what work may be impacted for the day. Also discuss how your company benefits. After all, maybe your child can assist with productivity.

Be mindful of HR limitations. For example, your human resources department usually has provisions about how old the child coming to work is — typically over nine years old. Make sure you know that information before approaching your manager.

Mimic What’s Happening in the Office

Get the agenda for the day.

A typical Bring Your Child to Work Day includes a brief introduction to the company, including what makes it special. Even if your kiddo isn’t in the office, he or she can still participate. Many video conferencing solutions enable people to meet and see each other. And as it’s part of the everyday working world, it’s a great example of technology used in an office setting. After all, chances are older kiddos video-chat with friends and smaller ones video-chat with family members like grandparents.

After the introduction to the company, children break off to usually follow their parents around the office. Don’t forget to explain your title and what you do everyday. Many times, kids — who have no context about jobs — don’t know what a job means.

Let your child sit next to you and discuss what’s happening as you do it. Introduce your child in meetings and let them speak up. If you’re using video conferencing throughout the day, invite your child in.

Give Your Child Tasks Where He Can Shine

There are always exciting and mundane things to do. Invite your child into both and think about what he can do by himself.

It’s not all fun and games at work, so ask your child to do the boring stuff, too. Have some rows to sort in Excel? Need information filled out and repeated? Need a few things filed? These are tasks that require concentration and stamina; most likely you should limit them to about an hour at a time. Just ensure your child knows what to do and be ready to answer questions.

Also bring them into the stuff you like. Do you have a brainstorm meeting with your co-workers? Ask them to attend and even contribute ideas. If you don’t have something creative, think about the more exciting parts of your job. Do you have anything to share? Maybe your child gets to name a server or help plan a work party.

You know your child well! Figure out what parts of your job your child will like. You got a math whiz at home, give them equations to do that fit into your role. Your child a writer? How about asking them to do some writing, even a status report they interview you for?

Talk and Listen

At the end of the day, talk with your child about what happened. Encourage your kiddo to ask questions and discuss. It might be fun to hear what your child thought you did and how that changed. It also might be interesting to hear what your child liked … and didn’t like.

Ensure Teachers are Involved

Sometimes teachers have work plans that include Bring Your Child to Work Day — a report due or a presentation to make. See what you can do to incorporate that into the day or see how you can help. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could help make the report or presentation extremely visual.

Future of Work

There’s no better way to encourage the future of work — with telecommuting — than being a remote worker with your child. In fact, data shows that more than half of all workers will be telecommuting by 2020.

Doing your part, showing your child how to work, even on-the-go or while you’re working from home, helps him or her enter the workforce.

Get more remote working best practices

3 Times You Need to Schedule a Meeting

Let’s face it — communicating is hard work. It’s difficult to figure out when you need a meeting and when you don’t. The “I survived another meeting that should have been an email” meme took the internet by storm, and it’s no surprise why it went viral: everyone can relate to it. The negative connotation surrounding meetings is because people often schedule unnecessary meetings that result in wasting valuable time. Meetings don’t deserve such a bad rep and can be a valuable asset when organized for the right reasons.

Below are three situations when a meeting is necessary and an email will not suffice:

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When a decision needs to be made quickly

When a deadline is quickly approaching and you require action fast, a meeting is often the most efficient way to get the answers you need. If you are working with someone who is extremely busy or non-responsive via email, a meeting is an easy solution to help them carve out time to provide the feedback or approval necessary for you to meet your deadline. Similarly, if there are outstanding decisions to be made and multiple players who require buy-in, a meeting is the quickest way to reach a mutual conclusion; opinions will be lost and frustrations will rise on an email string with multiple people trying to reach a joint decision.

When the topic is emotionally charged

It’s tough to navigate conflict in the workplace. Email provides a lot of room for interpretation and trying to hash something out through back and back-and-forth written communication will likely extenuate the issue and postpone a resolution. Sometimes even a phone call is enough.

Our good friend, Tim Metz, Founder of Saent, follows a simple rule to determine when something can be said in writing or should to be dealt with in person (or over the phone): when in doubt, talk. “Usually your gut will tell you whether something is not appropriate in writing and a feeling of doubt is a pretty good indication it probably isn’t right,” said Metz. Schedule a meeting and tackle the issue head-on–it will save time and reduce tension.

When you need to collaborate or brainstorm

Oliver Wendell Holmes said “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up,” and successful brainstorming sessions occur in a collaborative environment. Tim Metz agrees. “While you can discuss an idea asynchronously in a Google Doc or Slack, nothing beats getting in a room together with a whiteboard,” said Tim Metz, Founder of Saent. “Sketching out a mind-map around a topic is an excellent way to tap into everyone’s knowledge, feed off each other’s creativity and gain great new insights.” A tip for making a brainstorming meeting more productive? Require that attendees come to the meeting ready to share a few ideas prepared in advance. If you are unsure if scheduling a brainstorming session is the right move, Renee Cullinan, CoFounder of Stop Meeting Like This, shared with us the four instances when collaborative brainstorming makes sense:

  1. When multiple and diverse perspectives yield better ideas
  2. There’s a high degree of interdependence in the organization
  3. The outputs are genuinely needed and will be used
  4. The outputs require cross-functional execution.

How about you?

Are there any other instances where you think a meeting cannot be replaced by other types of communication?