Biz dev is a marathon.

A friend recently ran her first marathon. She didn’t know how it would feel to run 26 miles, and she was concerned about giving up partway through if she started to feel too tired. She even used a marker to write on the inside of her arm, “Your mind will give up before your body. Don’t stop.” She not only finished: she finished almost 15 minutes faster than she’d imagined she might.

Her tip? Don’t let the mind run the show when it’s tired, stressed, and worried. Make a commitment to action and keep going even when it gets hard.

That approach works for literal and metaphorical marathons. And that’s another reason why it matters so much that you have a business development plan with clear interim and ultimate goals: you’re less tempted to stop even when it gets hard if you can look to your interim goals to mark progress and focus on your ultimate goals to provide continues motivation. (Your ultimate goal refers not to originating and/or serving $X of business, but doing that so that you can make partner or pay cash for your kids’ college tuition or stay at the Four Seasons on your next vacation.)

Here’s the bottom line:

Don't stop when you are tired.Stop when you are done.

The power of quiet selling

Susan Cain launched a national conversation about introverts with her 2013 book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and that conversation continues three years later. Even the ABA Journal recently jumped into the introvert discussion with its January cover story Introverts in an Extrovert’s World: Most lawyers are introverted, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Several articles and book have addressed sales for introverts, most notably Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, which concluded that ambiverts (those who lie between introversion and extroversion) tend to be the strongest performers in sales. A quick Google search on “sales introvert” will turn up some 481,000 results. It’s a hot topic.

I recently ran across an article titled The Power of Quiet Selling that, although it’s primarily directed to introverts, offers tips that anyone engaged in business development should consider. For example:

  • Ask thoughtful questions that will help you (and your sales prospect) understand their priorities.
  • Educate instead of persuade: using a collaborative approach positions you as a trusted advisor.
  • Be patient—the relationships you build will generate even greater rewards down the road
The Power of Quiet Selling is worth your time, and if you apply the article’s recommendations (whether you’re an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert), you can expect to see business development benefits from your efforts.

My favorite biz dev book

I do a lot of reading about business development, and I share reviews of some of the best books with you. For this week’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Fleming Strategic, here’s a review of my all-time favorite business development book, which I first shared in 2010.

But first… Did you grab your complimentary copy of the e-book version of Legal Rainmaking Myths? If not, get it here—but hurry: the offer ends at midnight on January 16.

And now, on to the book review…

Selling the Invisible

by Harry Beckwith

“You can’t see them-so how do you sell them?

That’s the problem with services. . . .

This book begins with the core problem of service marketing: service quality.  It then suggests how to learn what you must improve, with examples of techniques that work.  It then moves to service marketing fundamentals: defining what business you really are in and what people really are buying, positioning your service, understanding prospects and buying behavior, and communicating.”

Selling the Invisible offers targeted suggestions for marketing your services, with plenty of anecdotes to illustrate its points.  Divided into eleven sections with multiple one- to three-page chapters in each section, Beckwith’s book gives bite-sized lessons on what clients and prospects (that is, potential clients) want, expect, and find persuasive.  A few notable tidbits:


  • Serve your clients as they want to be served.  Beckwith criticizes the lawyers who write a “really good brief” but fail to notice that the brief was “equally effective for the client $5,000 earlier” and that it “covers an issue that might have been avoided entirely through good lawyers.”  In other words: don’t get so caught up in technical merit that you overlook what the client sees.
  • Marketing starts with you and your employees.  “Review every step—from how your receptionist answers to the message on the bottom of your invoices—and ask what you could do differently to attract and keep more customers.  Every act is a marketing act.  Make every employee a marketing person.”  For example, notice how you (or your assistant or receptionist) answer the telephone: would you-the-caller want to talk with whoever answers your phone, or would you-the-caller have the impression that you were interrupting something more important?
  • Clients seek personality and relationships.  “Service businesses are about relationships.  Relationships are about feelings.  In good ones, the feelings are good; in bad ones, they are bad.  In service marketing and selling, the logical reasons that you should win the business—your competence, your excellence, your talent—just pay the entry fees.  Winning is a matter of feelings, and feelings are about personalities.”
  • Being Great vs. Being Good.  “People in professional services are especially prone to thinking that the better they get, the better their business will be.  The more the tax lawyer knows about the tax code . . . the more business will beat a path to [her] door[].”  Beckwith cites examples in law, medicine, and financial services to prove that clients place relationship, trust, good communication, and other non-technical proficiencies above technical skill.  (I would add the corollary that technical excellence is a prerequisite rather than a pure competitive advantage.)  Beckwith’s summary: “Prospects do not buy how good you are at what you do.  They buy how good you are at who you are.”  (But you still have to have the skills to deliver.)

Why should you read Selling the Invisible?

 If you consider yourself skilled at selling your services (and you have the business to back it up), review Selling the Invisible for reminders.  If you’re new to marketing your services, this book will serve as a foundational text for basic marketing principles.  You’ll also pick up terrific ideas for client service and for contributing to your team’s or organization’s business development efforts.

Selling the Invisible is an invaluable addition to a marketing library.  It’s quick to read; one could even read the bolded summary statements at the end of each chapter to get the gist of Beckwith’s ideas.  But, as you read, be sure to implement Beckwith’s bottom line in the chapter entitled Fallacy: Strategy is King, and “Do Anything” (preferably passionately) rather than creating and revising strategy endlessly.

Your anniversary gift (limited time!)

We made it through the holiday season! But there’s one more to celebrate, and it’s pretty special to me.

Fleming Strategic (originally known as Life at the Bar and then Lex Innova Consulting) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month! At the end of December 2005, I left my last full-time law firm position, and on January 30, 2006, I wrote my very first blog post, partly as a challenge for myself to see if I had anything to say. Ten years, three books, and hundreds and hundreds of blog posts later, I think the answer is yes.

I believe in celebrations, and so I’ll be celebrating Fleming Strategic’s tenth anniversary all month. This week, I have a special anniversary gift for you: a free electronic copy of my most recent book, Legal Rainmaking Myths: What You Think You Know About Business Development Could Kill Your Practice. Just click this link to find out more and claim your copy – and feel free to invite colleagues to get their own copy as well.  Just be sure to download your copy no later than January 16, 2016. In this case, good things will not come to those who wait!

In the meantime, here’s one of my earliest articles on networking skills. The blog isn’t pretty (because I “designed” it myself) and the links no longer work, but the information is still relevant. As an example, here are three tips on how to network well:

  • Be prepared to introduce yourself in 15-20 seconds. Without stumbling. This is usually called the “elevator speech.” Make it interesting. If it’s boring to say, it’s boring to hear.
  • Carry business cards and have them easily accessible…..
  • But don’t offer indiscriminately them at the beginning of a conversation! It’s far better to chat for a while, to know someone about the person, and then to ask for his or her business card. What if, horror of horrors, they don’t reciprocate and ask for yours? Not a problem. Send them one when you follow up after the event.

Lots has changed in the last ten years… But the basics of good networking have not.

See you next week with another fun (and still relevant) blast from the past.