Regardless of your area of practice, you almost certainly spend a big chunk of your time persuading someone to do something. In addition to persuading a decision-maker (a court or opposing party, perhaps), during the course of a day you probably attempt to persuade colleagues about a plan of action (or a destination for lunch), administrators about research, or other assistance, and so on. Great. Let’s assume that persuasion is among your top skills.
I’ve observed that the skill sometimes falls by the wayside, however, when it comes to business development. I recently talked with a client (a successful litigator) who told me how difficult he finds it to strike the right balance in talking with a prospective client. How much is too much, how little is too little, and what should the content be?
I read this article from 2015 that will help: How Doctors (or Anyone) Can Craft a More Persuasive Message. The article centers on the distinction between the message and the messenger, which is certainly critical, but it also offers three simple factors that you can use to form a more persuasive message.
- Expertise. Convey your expertise using “authority cues.” For a doctor, those cues might include a display of medical diplomas or the choice to wear a stethoscope. How does your office cue the perception that you are an authority in your field? What about your presence? Pay attention to both where you choose to have a conversation with a prospective client and how you present yourself.
- Trustworthiness. Generally speaking, you won’t be able to present an approach as a 100% ironclad certainty. The article suggests sequencing your message by sharing uncertainty just before delivering your strongest argument. How else might you convey that you’re trustworthy? For a potential client, think about the message you send when you’re on time for an appointment (or not), when you’re able to talk easily about your client’s business and/or legal situation (or not), and when you exhibit strong leadership presence (or not).
- Similarity. How can you signal that you and your prospective client are similar, without undermining your expertise? Language is important here: using legal terms of art with sophisticated legal consumers, for example, and more ordinary language with those less accustomed to addressing the legal issues at hand. You might also seek ways to demonstrate shared business values as well as other sources of common ground.
Read the article for insight on how you might communicate more persuasively. And where you have a choice in forming a team approach to a business pitch, consider especially the article’s question about who’s likely to be the most effective messenger.