Sales Orientation or Client Orientation?

You may think your firm is client-centred? Yet it’s possible that your clients don’t agree. How can that be?

Modern buyers are totally empowered. Blogs ruthlessly declare who we can trust. Business buyers are no different. Information empowers them.

Internet shopping now provides the benchmark for client service. You can’t see these businesses, and you can’t touch them, and they only get one shot at not letting you down. Yet – some of them have become truly great.

The upshot is that exemplary and unconditional service is now the new normal. Law firms can’t expect to be quarantined from this.

So firms that think they are client-centred by bombarding people with emails, sales seminars, and taking everyone to lunch, are often missing the point. Yes – this stuff has its place, but it isn’t the main game.

You simply have to deliver on expectations. If you don’t keep clients informed, don’t front up on problems in a timely way, and then produce major surprises in a final bill, you will cop a belting. And so you should.

Client-centred is about far more than schmoozing someone at lunch.

It’s about showing sufficient care and respect to keep them informed and to give the bad news with equal candour and courage as the good news. That’s the difference from being just sales-centred. Not surprisingly, bad news conveyed sincerely can actually generate trust, whereas bad news not conveyed at all usually destroys trust and in worst cases, signifies betrayal.

We never fail to be amazed at how comprehensively dumb some firms are in this area. They keep behaving like salesmen yet keep being dismayed by how few long term clients they have.

So think about how your firm treats its clients. You might not be nearly as client-centred as you think.


Published: Queensland Law Society – Proctor, November 2014 (p. 53)


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