200+ Professional Service Executives Have Attended Gro Pro 20/20

 

An Interview with CSO Insights

Barry Trailer
Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder

Sunny: Hello everyone. My name is Sunny McCall and I am Momentum’s Vice President of Content and Experience and Program Director of the upcoming Gro Pro 20/20 event. It is my great pleasure to be here today with Barry Trailer. Barry, welcome.

Barry: Hi Sunny. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Sunny: Thank you so much Barry. By way of background, Mr. Trailer is Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder of CSO Insights, a sales effectiveness research and benchmarking firm. In addition to more than 30 years of professional selling experience, Barry has also been president of Miller Heiman, a respected sales training firm, and Goldmine, a well-known CRM application. Barry has conducted seminars with hundreds of companies, including HP, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Hitachi. Mr. Trailer has also been a keynote speaker at dozens of sales events presenting Sales Mastery and is also a prolific writer.

So Barry, jumping in right here, I understand that in your current position, you are the Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder at CSO Insights, which is a division of MHI Global, specifically responsible for overseeing research into B2B sales effectiveness. Given your role and focus, I am curious to hear what the top two trends are that you’ve observed specific to sales effectiveness over the past few years, and then how these trends may or may not have evolved during that same time period.

Barry: Sure. Well, I think there are a number of trends that are worth at least mentioning, and two that we’ve been tracking for nearly a decade now that I will probably spend a little bit time talking about today. One of the ones is the implementation of higher levels of sales process from random basically everybody doing their own thing to informal to formal to dynamic which is not only focusing on process but also analytics and being much more tuned into collaboration. And we matrix that with 5 levels of relationship from the lowest level vendor to a preferred supplier, consultant, contributor and ultimately partner or today a popular term is trusted advisor.

And what we’ve seen over the years is as you have higher levels of process implementation and enjoy higher levels of relationships things get better. When we talk about things, the four metrics that we use to define the three performance levels are the percentage of reps meeting the quota, the percentage of annual revenue plan obtained, the outcome of forecast deals and overall rep turnover. And in terms of trends, what we saw is during and coming out of the great recession folks got really focused on process, really started to pay attention; because there weren’t as many opportunities, you needed to make most of every opportunity. And that carried on for a couple of years coming out of the recession; and then over the next couple of years we saw a relaxation, in our view, a complacency about those things and the numbers actually fell off again. In 2016, we’ve seen kind of a renewed focus. So, interesting to watch that overall and those are two really important areas that I think are worth talking about.

In addition to that, in terms of other trends, ramp-up time for reps – and I know we are talking about professional services here, so it maybe Biz Dev folks and it may be either principals or practitioners who are assigned some Biz Dev responsibility; I am going to use the term “rep” but I guess that the audience may not relate to that specifically – but getting folks up to speed has taken longer and longer and one of the reasons is – and this won’t be news to anybody – higher expectations, buyer expectations, higher competitive activity, the more complex sales, more buying influence involved in sales, more complex decision-making around projects. All of those things are making it a more complex protracted and competitive environment.

Sunny: Understood, thank you for that Barry. Now, taking your response there a step further, of those trends, were you surprised at all by what you observed and more importantly have you seen the professional services sector be responsive, if at all, to these trends.

Barry: Well, we were surprised when we saw the numbers fall off in 2013, 2014 and we actually wrote about what we really felt was complacency that had sort of raised its head again after the recession, rising sales [inaudible 00:05:07] and with the robust economy and everything coming roaring back we think the people leaned back rather than leaning in, with respect to implementing sales process. Beyond that I think professional services firms have been, I don’t know if – you know, I would want to go back and look at the numbers. I haven’t really revisited these in advance of this call, I will in advance of our time in New York, look at the levels of process implementation. But a couple of things, it seemed to me the training was an area that lagged when we last looked at this, and collaboration were two areas that seemed to be trailing. Beyond that, one of the areas in our sales best practices study that we are going to be releasing a week before the New York conference, we are seeing that world class firms have, are about two years ahead of all the other respondents in terms of adopting and leveraging social media. And my sense is that professional services are probably not leading the pack in that area. So those are a couple of things I probably flagged early on.

Sunny: Thank you Barry. And just one more turn of the screw now, building upon that response. Have you observed any specific commonalities among responses distinguishable by factors such as generation or industry? So in other words do older respondents provide one school of thought on sales effectiveness while younger clients offer differing feedback?

Barry: That’s an interesting question. We don’t track respondents by age. I mean they are certain, I guess, generalities you could make if you are looking at smokestack industries, traditional manufacturing, distribution firms that tend to have I think more established, more tenured sales reps; folks are a little more resistant to adopting technology versus many of the SaaS companies and a lot of the go-go high tech startups where you’ve got folks who are digitally native. I mean, you can make assumptions about the relative age distribution of those folks. But it’s interesting, I was in Orlando a couple of weeks ago speaking at IBM’s vision conference, which is about compensation and performance management, and one of the things that I raised at the session that I was speaking at is this whole notion of managing millennials and multi-generational teams, sales teams and I think in some ways that’s overwrought. I think there are things you need to pay attention to, but I also think that in terms of managing millennials what you are really managing is meaning. And that goes all the way back to the 60’s in Frederick Herzberg’s work on satisfiers and dissatisfiers, what really motivates folks, whether it’s hygienic or non-hygienic, quantitative versus qualitative, all of that stuff, it’s still very much in play. The thing that I’ve been saying to groups and you know I think it will be fun to be talking to with a group in New York is the technology is evolving like crazy, but our DNA really isn’t. It’s pretty well fixed. It’s not just fixed from one age group. I mean it’s pretty much fixed for all the age groups we are talking about. And there are five reasons that people will buy from you: No money, no need, no urgency, no desires, no trust; and that last one will kill more deals than the other four combined. And I think that’s especially true with respect to professional services.

And so the question now is how do you establish, maintain and elevate trust/creditability in increasingly high speed virtual remote environment. And I think that’s an important question, the one that I think will be fun to explore with the group. And the other thing is, I don’t think having meaning in your work is new to millennials. You know the old line about the 60’s: “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t there” well, that’s partially true. But I was there and we cared about meaning then; we cared about improving the world and changing the world and fighting the man and all that stuff. I think that what it really comes down to, and I am speaking to groups now about innovation and transformation is really, is the intersection of purpose and passion. And so I think that is where the meaning comes from. I don’t think people wake up one day feeling smart and say I am going to innovative today. I think it’s more kind of a dog with a bone that just you are so into something, you are so on it that you just can’t let go of it. I think that’s where the meaning comes from and that’s where the really good stuff comes from.

Sunny: Well, thank you for that Barry, and speaking of purpose and passion, at our upcoming Gro Pro Event in a few short weeks, we decided to take what we look at as a completely different approach to the event, dividing the content into chapters which we think will mirror the track of today’s CMOs, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officers, managing partners and other professional services leaders. Aside from the topic which you will be speaking on of course which we know everyone will have a very astute ear attuned for, I am curious to hear what sessions at the conference or maybe what part of the event or maybe all of the event you think would be most valuable for someone attending holding a similar role as yourself.

Barry: Well, I think that’s going to vary by individual and by their area of interest, in more particular areas that they feel that maybe they need to improve upon or bulk up on. The thing that I am interested in especially with this group when we get together is my background, you know a hundred years ago I was in engineering and became a registered civil engineer in California, and I know back then the kinds of things people would say you know I didn’t go to college and get license as an engineer or study engineering to become a salesman or a sales rep, and you know I don’t – back then you would call it feasibility or frontend work or marketing or Biz Dev, call it anything but sales – and I am interested in getting a sense of with this audience of how that’s changed and whether that’s changed and more particularly what bringing professional services and professional attitude to the area of sales might look like for these firms. So from that standpoint, maybe each of the chapters is going to have some of that, maybe none of the chapters. I know one that’s going to have that as a discussion topic.

Sunny: Well, Barry, thank you so very much. It’s been a pleasure chatting here with you today. Very much looking forward to you welcoming you at the conference and thanks again for spending some time with us. Looking forward to seeing you June 14 in New York.

Barry: Well thanks, I am really looking forward to it. I think there’s going to be a blast and I appreciate folks taking the time to listen to this and hopefully come up for the conference. Thanks for having me on Sunny.

An Interview with Catapult Growth Partners

Doug Johnson
Founder and Managing Director

 

BEN: Greetings! This is Ben Greenszweig; Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Momentum and I have the pleasure of speaking with Doug Johnson; the Founder and Managing Director of Catapult Growth Partners; Momentum co-partner on hosting Gro Pro 20/20, taking place June 14th in New York City, as well as my fellow co-chaired. Doug, how you doing today?

DOUG: You know Ben, generally well, thanks. Appreciate it.

BEN: Well as I’m sure many in our audience know; Gro Pro 20/20 is in 2nd year, although it’s root certainly deep with both Momentum and your organization; Catapult Growth Partners from the Growth pro-program you ran for many years and the firm think at that Momentum has ran for a few years prior. And this is not the 2nd year of our mashed up event. So for those aren’t familiar with it; why don’t you share your thoughts Doug on what do you think makes Grow for 2020 different than any other event on market for the CMO, CMBDO, managing partners and this real executive driving the professional service of industry?

DOUG: Yeah. You know Ben, it’s interesting. A lot of came about 5 or 6 years ago really more from the market observation and what my clients are asking for. It really awhile we sort of seeing a lot more interest across professional services back there for CMO and network with CMO from other professional service firm. I think what’s really different about this is most the other copy of this — of this nature only focus on a single vertical, for you have, you know, the law firm marketing organization which you have accounting and building. But this is the only one that I’m aware of that has successfully pulled together: law, accounting, consulting and financial services. To the build-tech executives can really kind of share notes to see what’s going on the other sectors and see they can learn from one another. And the other thing that’s really distinguish us is the mobility of CMOs and chief developers officers that changed over that prior 6 years where, you know people are moving across from one professional sector to another in bringing ideas and best practices and try to figure out how is that adapt to their new environment. So I think that be a consultant is really one of that main differentiator; the other thing is we’ve intentionally kept this as a reasonably small manageable event so that people can truly network with one another. And also really try to keep it a very senior level, sea-level and in deal some of the issues that some of the larger firms are wrestling with as well. So I think if you put those things together; that’s really the unique aspect of Gro Pro 20/20.

Certainly the convergence of the professionals’ services is one of the biggest key takeaways and you know there’s a lot of conversation about how law firms are rapidly changing their model. Certainly their approach is it not their mindset and I think you hit the nail in the head about further aligning all professional services under one umbrella and one event.

Speaking of alignment; there’s a scene that you hear often among seasoned marketing professionals such as as yourself from this concept of storytelling. It’s not so much about marketing; it’s about how do you tell your story the right way. That’s kind of the approach that, that you took this year for Grow For is a with respect to your content — there’s story that you want to tell and it seems to be divided into a, I believe four chapters this year. Each chapter of course covers a very basic principle but clearly the content is not basic. Chapter one is about maintaining the business you have. Chapter two is about mining for new business. Chapter three is evaluating, benchmarking and measuring success. And chapter four is the fast forward.

BEN: Can you give us some of the insights on why you crafted this approach and how practical it is?

DOUG: Yeah. You know it also goes back to that first point then about differentiation. I think we all been to a lot of conferences where the firm typically has keynotes speakers, and presenters, and panels. And nothing wrong that but what we felt was to those that are leading grow strategy and firm brand from some position in the market place and for those who are responsible for your — for driving growth to business development really most effective way of doing that is presenting from into calling [indiscernible 00:04:19]  fashion. You know it’s more and more CMO that talk to you talk about; you know how do you explain to a client — a potential client the capability of the firm. You can certainly lift those but far more effective to talk to a client about a couple of work you’ve done type of scenarios you’ve done for some more clients that comes in that industry. So really a story telling approach.

So we thought, let’s take that — that, that methodology and apply it to the conference. The other thing that I think that reason one that structure this way is the business really a conference form by, you know the CEO level executives? So we really like to hear the voice of the folks in the room that bring such depth and rich strength so that we learn far more from these practitioners that are dealing with the issues day to day. And we want to put a little structure right, you know in terms of what  are the real jobs functions and their roles and responsibilities of a tech market business development officers and you, you know articulate it. Those four chapters; they really what the job is all about, it’s keeping the business you have, you know driving revenue, evaluating yourself against the best practice and benchmarks. And then, the final chapter is the past four, I think we all realized we’re living in a time of change and innovation. And what is that means for our organization and our industry and how can we always be on the cutting edge and try to think about what’s coming next.

So that’s kind of how we want to be position and make it interesting and interactive in a dialogue as opposed to just a sort of standard approach to a conference.

BEN: Actually. Let’s take a quick moment and talk about that approach. This event is very interactive. Everyone that we invited in to parts it almost as if each team is requires co-working to come up with a solution. How did this event rank in terms of interactivity from other events that you seen, spoken and attended and of course and your more recent capacity as interim CMO and drinker bitter. You had your fair share of experience with events. So how did that level of interactivity compare?

DOUG: You know I think in a lot of ways of stint is a result of what kind of audience we’ve had, the folks we’ve had there and the fight with which we have made this almost a round table; it’s mostly the conference where the ideas we are really going to kind of hear from the audience. We want them engage in the process. We designed it around that idea to bring in best practice of case studies. And really come and get go to get people sort of, you know interchanging throughout the day. And You know I can tell you from the feedback we got last year — the common theme I’d heard from a lot of people was there’s a lot more interactive conference that I’ve been to; I learned more, I got more opportunity to share ideas and really network to those people around me. And so part of it was my design for a lot but I think the combination of five and top x with people who have there. And you’re so sure, you know sort of staying a day off that this is really designed to be interactive. We could one discuss in that.

BEN: Now, we’re very happy this year to have a, well we have some phenomenal speakers of course but I’m particularly very excited by one of our speaker in particular; Chris Surdak. Chris Surdak of course is the Chief Field Technologist, Data, Analytics, Governance and Compliance for HP. And he’s speaking on data crashed; separating the hype from reality. And it’s really more a manner of how the tidal wave of information is creating new opportunities and disrupting the existing model but Chris isn’t someone that’s just talk about it; he’s of course someone whose practice therein multiple capacities. He is — he went to law school, he’s got multiple degrees, you’ve seen him in Siemens, you’ve seen him from Dell, and of course you’ve seen him from Accentor and HP. What are you — what are your expectations for you to get from Chris on the big data session?

DOUG: Well you know, one of the other things that we’ve tried to do with Gro Pro 20/20 in being another a differentiator is to bring from follow leaders and some people in from other industry that are doing very intriguing industry things in trying to figure out how is that adapt to the professional services that if I’m doing some instinct things around the big data and technology field; you want to see all that pretty natural for that area but you know does it really works in the law firm, does it — does it apply to consulting firm? But Chris’ background is in consulting and also in technology so he understands both side of the equation. And I think — I think that the perspective that he brings is very interesting. One is that there’s so much buzz and hype around data — big data. I think a lot of, you see, he talks to me in terms of his presentation. One or three we’ve know with that title really means. And what is big data mean, what’s real, what’s hype? But I think the other things he really wants to sort of present you know; what is really happen there, where are the companies hearing data in ways that innovative and where are you actually seeing professional services firms to trying to apply that? And we got a couple of candies that I know of that are experimenting with projects around data analytics and big data analysis that we’re going to try to weave into that so that we — now we have the theoretical perspective and the perspective from the other industries but we want some — a leading edge practitioners within the professional services that we talk about. How did they actually take you from these theories in trying — trying to put them to work? So I think, you know one is it will be interesting, it will be inspirational being sort of, you know open our minds to what’s going on in other area but then really the team is to how, you know — so what? How did that relate back to my job if I’m CMO for a large law firm or I’m driving this [indiscernible 00:09:41] large consulting firm? Does it apply to other lesson that I can learn from this type of input?

BEN: And finally, this event is also different in that it has very specific criteria for registration. We certainly know that there usually dozen of requests from solution providers to get involved in network with this very elite room of senior professional services executives. But can you talk a little bit about the criteria for registration and the thinking behind it?

DOUG: Yeah. The criteria; we really want to, you know have folks that are to senior leader for the marketing and business development functions within the firm or you know the number two in their organization that are really responsible so kind of waking up every morning and thinking about; how do we grow the organization, how do we really affect change, what we do around the marketing business development organization. And we’ve been very successful sort of having those criteria. I think that’s one of the things that’s law firm be very successful and it allows us to become, you know event that more and more people are putting in their calendars that sort of the must attend event. In really sort of keeping that — that focus of that level; you know there’s a lot of other big conferences that’s out there that are more for, you know middle level folks and more about, you know blockings, tackling issues. This is really where folks that is at the CEO level or VP level which come together; really kind of learn from the best and brightest in really so share, you know cutting edge ideas. And so, we sort of expected that — that’s it before, you know we’re not trying to drive a conference for, you know hundreds and hundreds of people but, you know seventy, eighty of the right people really make a difference in terms of the way we’ve done that.

BEN: Couldn’t agree more Doug and it’s an absolute pleasure of speaking with you today. This and so much more I Gro Pro 20/20 on June 14th in New York, City. For more information of course, there’s a growpro2020.com. Doug, appreciate giving us of a few minutes of your time today. I for one, am very excited to see the phenomenal rooster of speakers and attendees continue to materialized and of course participate in the leading event for professional services executives come June. Thanks again from your time Doug.

DOUG: Absolutely. Thank you Ben.

 

 

 

An Interview with Miller Heiman Group

Frank Troppe
Consulting Partner

MillerHeimanGroup-Full-Color (2)


Sunny: Hello everyone, my name is Sunny McCall and I am Momentum’s Vice President of Content and Experience and Program Director of the upcoming GoPro 20/20 Event. It is my great pleasure to be here today with Frank Troppe, Consulting Partner with Miller Heiman Group. Frank welcome.

 

Frank: Thank you. Glad to be here Sunny.

 

Sunny: Thank you so much Frank, the pleasure is all mine. For our listeners by way of background, Frank is a lawyer who works with some of the largest professional services firms in the world, including one of the big four and two of the top five law firms. Frank is here today to discuss how business development is changing in the world of professional services. So Frank, going ahead and jumping right in there, I understand that in your current role, a key focus of your work is to guide time challenged clients interested in more effective opportunity creation and pipeline management. Could you share with our listeners today what that may look like for a client who is a law firm versus an accounting firm or other type of professional services firm?

 

Frank: Yeah, Sunny it’s funny, one of the only things that hasn’t changed is that our professionals are time-challenged. And what’s gotten I guess worse, from an individual perspective is that there’s been more and more demands placed on professionals and at the same time no relief on the time side. So, time challenge really means they want a straight line between activity and results. Lawyers, accountants, auditors can’t afford detours that are caused by either poor sales strategy or spotty execution. The market actually punishes firms and professionals for those kind of detours and we work with people who are I guess sick of squiggly line sales efforts. So there are similarities between the types of firms that you mentioned and also differences. So, you said law firms versus an accounting firm or versus an accounting firm or other type of professional services.

Let’s start with the similarities, and we see three really strong similarities. One, basically professionals want to feel like their efforts are paying off. They’ve been trained at least since professional schooling and licensing to not like failure, maybe since birth to have that hardwired into them. They don’t like failure and business development by definition involves win rates that are less than a 100%. So across the board in all firms the idea that we feel like our efforts are paying off on really important similarity and starting point.

The second thing we know that’s similar between firms is they have a really limited time in which to focus, because they are all operating in a seller-doer model. And what that looks like is, today I am working for a client and I am performing services directly for the client and at the same time I’ve got to find time to squeeze in a little bit of network and a little bit of client development, a little bit of a conversation about future pipeline opportunities and that’s not my full time job. So there’s limited time across the board, clients want to talk with the professionals in the firm, and so this is the second common challenge. Do I have 30 minutes a week to do that? Do I have 5 minutes on a day? Do I have two and a half hours? It’s not a 50-hour, 60-hour effort.

And then, third, finally from a firm perspective, it’s just so expensive to chase bad deals, and this would be the case in accounting law or strategy or other type of consulting firm. So, resource allocation is emerging as a real key strategic lever like where we point our resources. That’s what all the best and the fastest growing firms are doing well, addressing those similarities.

Now, I also promise there are a few differences. So you think like how is the law firm different from an accounting firm of other type, and let me just focus on law firms for a minute. One, law firms are further behind accounting strategy and consulting firms in terms of business development discipline. And one implication of this is that they are more likely to talk about what they do and less likely to uncover client outcomes, the pipeline, manage through pipeline, and frankly, client interactions to let the client speak more. And this is something that we’ve observed that if you think about a classic high performing sales organization or business development organization, they are pretty good at getting the client talking. And that’s not something that lawyers have been trained in, in terms of the business development discipline. And so we are trying to sort of flip the 80-20 rule and let the client speak 80% of the time. Law firms are starting to catch up on this but not where accounting strategy consulting firms are.

Second thing, law firms are much more individually oriented than team oriented, just a general statement. I know there’s exceptions to that. But when I work with busy lawyers, they are so focused on their own book, there’s an unusual thing in law firms about the portability of business where in other commercial enterprises, you can’t just walk away with the clients or business. That’s much more likely to happen in a law firm setting, and so they, tend to be like less trust, frankly and just much more of an individual orientation. We found from junior partners that they find this frustrating sometimes but they want to be introduced, they want to be able to take on new clients, pursue new clients, and they feel like well these are all off limits and I don’t really know what’s going on there, because maybe the senior partner isn’t giving them as much access or insight.

Couple of more big differences in law firms, much less likely to have fully evolved business development support teams. Some firms have made strides in this and we notice a huge difference in the creation of opportunities and the pipeline win rates, in those few firms, where BD support is not viewed as just like an administrative thing, hey do this proposal, but they are really working shoulder to shoulder, targeting, creating opportunities and helping all throughout the process. I guess, the last thing that we notice about law firms and successful firms, I mean, these are – historically they have a legacy and they are doing well, the profits for partner are high. But they are facing new challenges and they are not addressing those challenges yet in many cases by having a pipeline or any type of discipline around the pipeline. And we’ve seen where that’s been adopted, it’s a great way to drive growth in targeted areas of the firm. Implication of all this stuff, it means a law firm that looks like a collection of individuals, really smart people, but lacking a common language in platform and that’s one of the things that we really see changing as part of the BD landscape.

 

Sunny: Perfect, thank you so much for that Frank. It really provided some great foundation for us for the rest of our conversation here. Moving to that next question then and giving your current role and focus, I am curious to hear what the top two trends are that you’ve observed specific to sales effectiveness over the past few years, and how these trends may or may not evolved over the same time period.

 

Frank: Yeah, so, the top two – we really study business development trends religiously and we have a strong point of view, I guess, well perspective on what’s changing in the marketplace, and there are seven that we’ve identified but I will give you the top two in my perspective with some detail and then I will just maybe briefly mention another handful that people can think about a little bit more after the session. So, I think number one, and so the biggest trend that, in professional services has been the professionalization of the sales or business development function. And what that means is that instead of say 15-20 years ago, 10 years ago, where you had a collection of smart people working individually but no common approach to how to prepare for a meeting, no common approach for how to manage an opportunity to close. It was just like very good at reacting and listening for opportunities but pretty poor overall at having the coordinated firm-wide effort. And these are big sophisticated businesses there’s no way any of the commercial clients, the big commercial clients of a law firm would consider approaching business development that way. And I think that law firms now and certainly the big four in terms of accounting firms, the big three strategy firms have professionalized or evolving the professionalization of their sales function. So that’s going to… Look, even the word ‘sales’ wasn’t used five years ago and it’s begun to be used quite a bit more often. We now have chief business development officers instead of just the title of marketing containing everything. So that’s number one, professionalization

Number two is really a generational trend or change and so we are seeing being introduced to business development concepts much, much earlier. So what used to be limited to partners and directors is now being exposed to senior associates in law firms and accounting firms and for managers and senior managers and accounting firms. I think the reason for this has been that once somebody was deemed a partner and then they are told, okay, not now, go build your book, you’ve got the substantive expertise to be a great partner, go build your book, and they go like, well, how? And so introducing people to these ideas earlier, we are just seeing more and more of that. It’s almost an across the board phenomena.

And so I worked on one of these projects this week and I will tell you that the appetite and reception for this learning by more junior people has been very, very strong. And what that looks like is room is you’ve got people that are really leaning into the conversation and asking great questions. So, professionalization and introducing ideas earlier really they are two big moving pieces that we are seeing are affecting like cultural adoption of this idea in firms today. I will just briefly mention the other five, and I will use an acronym of TRACT, T-R-A-C-T just as a kind of an easy way to remember this.

So, one is technology, right, so there’s just so many things on technology that are changing the use of social media, the way that we leverage CRM and the way those things are linked to methodology and issues related to adoption, so technology a big one. R would be research, use of external benchmarks instead of kind of the internal navel gazing like what are our top three people doing in practice. That’s important. But, how about the other 300 people in the marketplace that you are competing with. What are they doing? So technology and research. The A would be alignment. Much stronger alignment emerging between sales and marketing, and what that looks like then is that the website starts to reflect what’s really happening in client conversations as opposed to our language and generic promises, okay. So, stronger alignment. The C would be client centricity, and I am just thinking of what actually happened a couple of years ago, and I won’t tell the whole story but, there’s a legacy attitude in some firms about the most important thing to talk about is the pedigree of our firm. And if you have a great firm, like the client knows that. And what the client really cares about is their problem, not how long your firm has been in business. Now, they trust you because of that, but the client centricity is really showing up and you can see it changing in the way that websites are starting to talk more about the client issues, and less about history of the firm. The final one, teamwork, and a big trend in professional services, what this looks like is greatly improved use of internal and external network. So on an individual pursuit, within the firm, more people getting involved, people like to sell in teams. That’s working better. And then also more teamwork with your external network. So, are you developing a support system outside of the firm that could help you drive business? So, those are kind of the big seven and of the two that have had the greatest impact in the firms that are growing the fastest, it’s been professionalization, the sales function and attention to generational interest.

 

Sunny: Perfect. Thank you Frank. Now, of those trends, were you surprised at all by what you observed and if so, why?

 

Frank: Yeah, there have been surprises in each and costly ones to ignore in the future, to be blunt about that. I will think about just maybe the two biggest trends and what might surprise people to hear that. So, number one, firms are sadly used to living in a sea of things okay. Their clients have gotten much more sophisticated and they are purchasing, they are starting to view even some of the highest level services in more commoditized fashion. And at the same time firms have not advanced beyond selling methods that were used 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 50 years ago. This really creates a dangerous goal and explains some of the pricing pressure that firms are experiencing. When we work with lawyers, they are often surprised to experience the power of differentiation that comes from the professionalized sales function. So they are like bogged.

So actually the way that I perform in a meeting becomes a differentiator. The way that we strategize around a pursuit is a differentiator. And when that happens, it’s a real confidence boost to the people involved in the process, because they are not relying just on the great work and the great pedigree that they get, but their process is working better. And our research has shown a significantly lift, over a 5 percentage point lift in win rate, and even bigger increases in quality pipeline growth through that kind of function. I am not surprised by that result but firms are really surprised.

I guess, the second surprise has been this enthusiasm by the next generation, much higher than I expected. So I kind of thought hey, these people would be more reluctant, under pressure, I don’t have that much like a partner does, and they’ve just gobbled it up. I think part of that is some of the advances in adult learning where we flip the classroom and really engage the audience more, has made the enthusiasm even greater. But when I have a group of 25 more junior lawyers or accountants in a room, it’s always a positive experience. Some good news and I think something that surprises the next generation is the gap between like hey I am a newcomer to business development, and versus being a senior partner, it doesn’t take 10 years to address that gap. Like it might – you might have a 10-year learning curve in your substantive practice area, but you can get good at business development in less than 10 years. And that’s kind of an energy boost and an exciting idea for some people who want to prove that they are good at something.

 

Sunny: Perfect, thanks Frank. Now, building upon that, could you share maybe two or three key lessons learned in your work with clients that at the conclusion of your work with them that they shared with you, “If I only knew this at the start.”

 

Frank: Yeah. Happy to do that. And it’s not just my clients. I mean, I am learning all the time. I am not just a lawyer but I am also a business developer and I am not just a professor of business development, but I carry a bag. So, I mean, I am building a book of business and these lessons learned, I mean, I am learning, I’ve learned new things this week, but couple of like big ones that when we finish an engagement or we finish a stage of an engagement, where the client says, ah man, I wish I had known this at the start, I wish I had believed this at the start… It’s different for each client but the single most common lesson is it pays to get started. Everyone says, I wish we had done this earlier. I’ve never had anyone say, oh I wish we’d waited a year to do this. Everybody says, I wish we had done this earlier.

Second lesson I think, and this is going to be kind of maybe like a harsh lesson okay. But there is a cottage industry around business development resources for professional services. And what I mean by that is there’s a lot of small companies. In a cottage industry, and very expensive cottages by the way, has not served firms well. In our practice we take a different approach. We adapt the proven practices from commercial enterprises and we have very large global scale, and so using this method, our clients are just significantly outperforming the lackluster performance of firms that are mom and popping it. Our clients win when they are up against peers who are cobbling together and frankly, kind of junk science from sales therapists, retired partners, and maybe other people whoever, haven’t ever sold a thing in their lives or coached a sales team. And there’s this surprise that like something that works so well in commercial enterprise could work for a firm. And I am not surprised by that. But often clients are surprised by that okay.

A couple of other things that just kind of jump out, like one thing – I wondered at the beginning like why can’t smart people just figure it out, why can’t they just figure out BD. And you can’t just train smart people or just turn them loose and say hey go for it. You have to have a strategy for reinforcement and professional development that goes beyond a single partner retreat or communication system. So, firms do best and they grow the fastest and they win more than their fair share when they are patient, but they don’t accept hey let’s do this when we have time or plug it in when we have time. And what that would look like historically if a firm was – oh it’s okay to take three months to write your plan, it’s okay to take six months to do nothing on your plan, it’s okay to take months, let’s do another rewrite, and take six months to track down people. Like you got to have a strategy for reinforcement that says upfront, that’s not acceptable. You are going to write down a plan, business development is basically about one thing: it’s about listening to the client and then coming back with what you’ve learned and fulfilling your commitments to the firm. And when you blow it off, like because I am busy, you are not honoring your commitment to your firm.

I guess, last one if I think about, you know I am working with a firm right now that has just significantly less per year – but beat all of its peer group every single year. And one of the reasons I think for that, the lesson learned would be they outline really specific measurable goals. They do it at the practice level, at the account level, at the opportunity level and without having like a culture shock they manage the firm like if it’s next. They manage the firm like the firm’s most successful clients manage their business. We are a team, we are trying to achieve these goals, we care about these goals, and good management for them starts with executive sponsorship, cultural adoption. And then like I said before, that very targeted reinforcement, I think one big change that’s coming out, I will make this prediction, is we are going to see firms adopt much more rigor around account reassignment. And many professional services firms of all categories today, so this isn’t done that frequently.

I helped one company achieve an 80% increase in sales over four years and mostly by this single idea. We replaced account ownership which is the common language, account ownership, we replaced that with account lendership, meaning I am giving you responsibility for this period of time, I want to see – and help you, but I need to see results, I need to see improvement in the quality of that relationship, the levels of service feedback that we are getting and frankly revenue growth and profitability. That concept is anathema to most professional services firms, but my crystal ball says that will change over the next three to five years. You just can’t afford in the long run to have highly valuable assets like major clients managed poorly and account reassignment is – something you could do in a very staged and comfortable way that gives people a shot at – it kind of reverses this idea that I can be a squatter. Like if you sit on an account for years with no progress, like give somebody else a chance. So that kind of – a lot of thoughts there but those are the major lessons that have resulted in higher revenue for professional and greater profits for partner.

 

Sunny: Perfect. And finally, Frank, I am pleased to state that a hallmark of our annual GoPro 20/20 Event, has been Miller Heiman Group’s participation each year traditionally, targeted towards the theme of best in class client development for professional services, the insights shared by you and your colleagues each year are most valuable as they are not only practical but also built on substantive research with the market. Could you share with our listeners today a preview of what they can expect to hear at this year’s event?

 

Frank: Yeah, I gave you the four corners of what I expect to hear and I’ve participated in these year after year and I’ve just listened and learned. And so one, I think you can expect total honesty around the challenges that firms face in business development today. Two, I think you are going to hear some specific ideas about how you can move up the industry ranking charts, whether that’s the Am Law 100 or the Accounting Today Top 100. Third, I think, we will hear about how firm clients intend to continue disrupting this space, the professional services sector, and what you can do about it. Just in the last four weeks, there have been important announcements in the news by Facebook and MetLife about their approach to diversity which is going to change the way that they work with firms. Just this morning, there was an article out quoting the top lawyer at Morgan Stanley about law department structure at large financial services institutions should be reevaluated and where the compliance function should be housed under the same move as the legal team. That’s an example of firm clients disrupting kind of the way that things just status quo. I think we are going to hear a lot about that.

And the thing I am most excited about kind of the fourth corner of this would be we are going to hear how one firm and perhaps the most competitive space, and so a super regional firm, is using the power of a professionalized sales approach, that first thing that I mentioned as a major trend, to basically do three things, how do we get access to more decision makers, how do we grow our pipeline and how do we increase our win rate. So there are so many other things we could share but I think we are probably maxed out for this conversation, but actually if there’s a specific BD issue that someone wants resolved before, during or after GoPro, I would invite them to contact you and I know you can maybe get that into the agenda this or the next session. So, I hope this has been helpful today for your listeners and I have just enjoyed sharing some of our experience, we continue to learn every day as well.

 

Sunny: Perfect. It’s been my pleasure to hear you and talk a bit with you here today, Frank, we are really looking forward to seeing you at our upcoming GoPro 20/20 Event taking place in New York City on June 22 and I just thank you so much for your time.

 

Frank: See you in New York.

An Interview with Lexis Nexis

Gil Wolchock
Director of Sales

Sunny: Hello everyone. My name is Sunny McCall and I am Momentum’s Vice President of Content and Experience and Program Director of the upcoming Gro Pro 20/20 event. It is my great pleasure to be here today with Gil Wolchock. Gil, welcome.

Gil: Hi Sunny, it’s great to be here.

Sunny: Thanks so much, Gil. By way of background, Mr. Wolchock is an established management executive with more than 20 years of proven experience in P&L, corporate turnaround and sales management areas. Currently Gil is director of sales for Lexis Nexis’ leading relationship client offering interaction. His experience spans across multiple industries within technology. He has served in various senior management positions. His strategic consulting background includes work with clients Coca-Cola, UPS, The United Way and Cox Communications.

Jumping right in here Gil, clearly you have a very interesting background having held sales and client-focused positions within diverse organizations including prior work in a general agency and a financial services institution. Now as the director of sales for interaction at Lexis Nexis, I am curious to learn how you believe each of your prior positions has equipped you for your current role?

Gil: Sure thanks Sunny, and diverse is a good term. So when I thought about that question, I’d say the biggest thing that I’ve learned is that change, like a lot of things, is inevitable. It’s also scary; but fortunately it’s usually good. And how good that is, is ultimately going to be determined largely on planning and leadership, both from a top-down and bottom-up inside an organization. And I’ve also learned one of the biggest things that will play a role is culture, and how culture plays in change and how it deals with stress inside an organization. And what I’ve found is interesting is I see that the legal marketing professional services space is very similar to the digital marketing space that I saw in the early 2000s. And when I tell people that they sometimes get a little shocked because digital marketing and advertising is fun and exciting and legal marketing might not be seen that way.

But where I see that confluence is back in the early 2000s, digital was on the forefront of creating an entire sea change and how marketing and advertising is done. Similar to the way the 50’s and 60’s saw television flip the dynamic of advertising; we saw the same thing in digital. And for me being on the cutting edge of that was exciting and rewarding, and I see a lot of the similar parallels and how marketing and business development teams are trying to create that same sea change in their organizations on legal, is very similar. So just like with digital, the proof will be in the pudding and that will come from strong data analytics and technology. So that’s been exciting to see.

I also thought about this question about what I kind of bring and I think the biggest value that my kind of background in being diverse brings is the level of experience and expertise in building sales and business development organizations that serve as the corporate world. One of the things I’ve also gotten to do is become certified in spin selling which is a consultative selling technique and that also lets me bring a unique skill set to not only my team but also to our clients when helping and working with them from a consultative nature in what I can do. One of my favorite things to do is to discuss an upgrade or have a discussion about what folks are looking at and kind of spinning those things back and taking a holistic, 360-view of things as opposed to just trying to talk about a specific software product.

Sunny: Perfect. Thank you so much for that Gil, and that actually gives us a nice segway to my next question which was, reflecting on your experience in your current role and then thinking also about some of your prior industry experience as well, what would you say two of the most surprising trends are that have been revealed to you, specific to sales strategy, within the professional services sector?

Gil: That’s a great question. I think the first thing that came to mind is I started looking at the professional services space and specific with legal, was just how much growth and opportunity there is from a business development and marketing standpoint. There’s such a strong appetite to figure things out when it comes to selling and I will put quotes around the word selling, especially in the professional services space, and however you want to define that word. But whether it’s from consultants offering different services to the amount of technology that you now have at your fingertips, how all of those things will be optimized and used by the firms is going to be very, very exciting to see; and how they mature and how they get the time and how they mature is kind of the first thing that surprised me from a trend standpoint.

The second one was a broad range of acceptance or adoption techniques when it comes to the business development side in this space. There’s so many different opportunities and different firms taking different ways to envision it and it’s an exciting spot to look at where the integration is strong between a marketing sales as well as a delivery mechanism per se in lawyers, where you’ve got a really strong cohesive unit. How amazing those results could be and how well you can replicate that learning across a firm, and then on the flip side you can also see where the time is not given for it to mature and kind of take hold that firms will tend cycle and spin. So how things are accepted and adopted have also been eye-opening for me.

Sunny: Perfect. Now in response to your prior answer Gil, could you describe how Lexis Nexis has thus been able to remain agile in responding to or meeting the demand triggered by that trend?

Gil: Sure. I think there are two things that we look at when we try to stay agile and work with our clients. The first one is people and trying to make sure that we align the right folks on our side, with the right teams on the client side. And one of the biggest things that we’ve done in the last year and a half to really focus on that is creating what we call the client success team. And that’s pairing two professionals on my side to essentially run the account side of the business. One of those is a client advisor who is very focused at a strategic level and is pretty much coming from either working inside the legal space or working inside the CRM space as an industry expert that can be there to help guide and work with a client to maximize their investment that they’ve already made in CRM. And the second side is having an account manager on the back end who’s there for the day to day that can help with surface level support. Obviously we have full 24-hour help support for our clients as well, but this is a great one-on-one relationship that our clients can have with our team.

And the second thing that goes along with people is tools and technology. And I think we have recognized the need to continue to innovate and not rest on our laurels. I think what we have seen in the last six months and what we will see over the next 12 months is a really nice innovation cycle to our interaction product, whether it’s in modules, IQ, or business edge which are there for helping with reporting and getting you the data that you need as the client. Also some really unique features around mobility and always constantly updating. We have also moved in this agile work environment to an agile development cycle, so that we are constantly updating so no longer do you have to wait annually for an update but essentially quarterly we are releasing new components to the software. 

Sunny: Perfect. Thank you for that Gil. Now shifting gears just slightly, there’s been some talk recently of the emergence of a new role there is a bit of a hybrid cross between marketing, BD and sales function, commonly referred to as the Chief Commercial, or even within some organizations, the Chief Client Officer. What are your thoughts on this new role and how it may or may not impact sales strategy within the professional services sector? 

Gil: Selfishly, I love it. I feel like, given my experiences, it fits perfectly for the world of selling and influencing inside the professional services sector today. I think it really allows for that level of office to take the understanding that business development truly fits inside the C-suite and belongs next to those other folks that run the business. With that said, I think the impact can be extremely terrific but I think it also has to be understanding that that person also does have, for lack of a better term, the juice that goes with that office. They have to be a leader, and have autonomy and control and be given the opportunity and time to do what they need to do from a business development standpoint. Selling and business development is very much both an art and a science, and that certainly takes time to be able to take hold inside an organization.

Sunny: Perfect. Thank you Gil. Speaking a little bit about this year’s upcoming event, we decided to take a completely different approach to the content, dividing it into chapters that we have crafted to mirror the track of today’s CMOs, CMBDOs, managing partners and other professional services leaders. Aside from the chapter in which you will be speaking of course, Gil, I am curious what sessions of the conference you think will be most valuable for someone attending the event holding a similar role to yourself.

Gil: So for me both selfishly and actually as a vendor, it’s really all of them. I am fairly new to the space within the last two years, so I spend a lot of my time listening and learning from my peers as well as our clients. So I am excited to get to participate, not only to speaker, but be able to be there and listen and learn. And one of my favorite selling clichés, if you will, is you have one mouth and two ears and you should use them in that proportion so I am looking at the day as my opportunity to, while I get to speak for half hour, I really want to have my ears open and be able to soak in all the great content as well.

Sunny: Perfect. Well, thank you so much Gil. We are certainly looking forward to hearing more from you at the event and I am sure that you will be able to obtain that value as an attendee as well. Thank you so much again for your time here today. We will look forward to hearing more from you in a few short weeks, June 14, at Gro Pro 20/20.

Gil: Yes, Thanks Sunny, looking forward to being there.

And Interview with Stinson Leonard Street

Jill Weber
Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer

Sunny: Hello everyone. My name is Sunny McCall and I’m Momentum’s Vice President of Content and Experience and Program Director of the upcoming Gro Pro 20/20 event. It is my great pleasure to be here today with Jill Weber. Jill, welcome.

Jill: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Sunny: Thank you, Jill. Jill currently directs marketing and business development initiatives for Stinson Leonard Street, which is a 500-attorney firm with 14 offices. Jill’s responsibilities include strategic planning, business development, training and coaching, lateral integration, client service, client interview, branding, media, social media and advertising. Jill is also actively involved in the Legal Marketing Association and currently sits as President-Elect of the association. Jill, we’ll just go ahead and jump right in here – I see that you come from a very strong background in marketing and communications. I imagine that in a law firm environment the role and responsibilities of a chief marketing and BD officer can often overlap, or even merge, into one role as is current with your position. Thinking a bit about you current role and background in legal and professional services space, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you think these two specialties complement each other to drive strategy within your firm.

Jill: Well that is a great question, and the key from my perspective is really to establish a mutual goal that aligns to the firm’s strategy and then you define how each functional discipline, both marketing and business development, support achievement of that goal. Just by way of example, if the marketing and business development department established a goal of growing revenue profitably, then the business development function of the team would help to achieve that goal by effectively supporting practice groups and attorneys in developing and implementing business plans that target clients, prospects and referral sources. Or another role of the business development team would be to support effective responses to RFPs that meet the needs and would help us to grow revenue profitably.

The marketing team would also help to achieve that goal by creating, for example, content marketing strategy that raises visibility and connects with those same clients, prospects and referral sources. We have seen with the advent of social media that we can actually connect the dots and see direct results from content marketing as well social media in delivering new clients to the firm. Another example would be to create an effective event strategy that would include pre- and post-event activities to maximize the opportunity to convert prospects to clients. So perhaps in a traditional marketing role many years ago, the marketing department function might have been simply to arrange the hotel and send out the right invitation and make sure everybody was in the room. Now, it would be a more strategic approach to targeting exactly who the right people are, where it is quality over quantity. It would also be making sure that the attorneys are prepped well in advance with biographies of all the attendees and know who knows whom and determine what the appropriate post-event follow-up would be.

Sunny: Jill, taking your response to the prior question one step further, how would you say the Chief Marketing and BD Officer’s role has evolved over the past five years, particularly within the law firm environment, and then any thoughts on how you think this role may further evolve in the years to come?

Jill: Yes, I’ve really seen the role become increasingly strategic, as our department can help drive top-line revenue. If you look over all of the administrative support that we provide to law firms, some of the financial and operations departments are very focused on setting the appropriate billing rates, improving realization, managing expenses to increase margins and therefore profitability. In addition, the rise of legal project management and pricing helps us to be more efficient on how we deliver those services. The role that marketing and business development can play, and particularly the Chief Development Officer, is to be strategically focused on sales. You really need both components, the astute financial management and the increased revenue, to achieve results.

I do wonder if eventually the Chief Business Development Officer may have more responsibility for true pipeline management. In a traditional company, a sales force usually has very targeted revenue goals and they look at specific clients to see how much that client has bought, how much might they buy in the future and they establish quotas for people in the sales force. While I’m not recommending that law firms be establishing quotas for partners per se, actually looking at some pipeline management around key clients, particularly institutional clients, or significant business generators, could be an evolution in the Chief Business Development Officer role in the years to come.

Sunny: Thank you, Jill. There has been some talk recently of the emergence of a new role that is a bit of a cross between Marketing, BD and Sales Functions. The role that I’m referring to is the Chief Commercial Officer. What are your thoughts on the creation of this new role and how it may or may not be different from roles like yours or others that currently exist within the professional services sector.

Jill: I think this role is really intriguing. I was doing a bit of research in preparing for this interview and as I saw some of the companies that have a Chief Commercial Officer and looking at what that job description is, it’s going even beyond Marketing, BD and Sales to include product development and customer experience management. Essentially, the Chief Commercial Officer is finding out what the clients need, how to improve that client service experience, and then making sure that the company is producing the right products to deliver on those client needs.

So how that role could be in a law firm would be significantly different than what marketing and business development are currently doing. It could involve advising the firm on developing new services or offerings – which could be technology platforms – or it could be a different way to deliver a service so that it is more cost effective. The delivery model might change for a highly commoditized practice, and many law firms are starting to do this, sometimes using more staff attorneys than partners in delivery of a particular service. But I think that this role would go beyond that into really defining how we best meet the client needs. As you see in many of the surveys, client service is increasingly important and it isn’t just “did we deliver something for the right price?” It is, “are you understanding my business, understanding my business objectives and truly being focused on me, even when you are not working on a matter for me?” I think that’s a really critical component that would be part of the Chief Commercial Officer role, to keep those clients front and center of the partners and firm leadership at all times.

Sunny: Jill, for this year’s Gro Pro event, we decided to take a completely different approach to the conference, dividing the content into chapters that mirror the track of today’s CMOs, CMBDOs, managing partners and other professional services leaders. Aside from the chapter in which you will be speaking of course, is there particular chapter segment that appeals most to you? And if so, why?

Jill: There are a couple of chapter segments that appeal me. One is the discussion that we just started around the role of the Chief Commercial Officer and the evolution of our function within law firms because it has certainly has changed dramatically over the past five to seven years. I am also especially interested in digital innovation and how we can learn from best practices from other professional services firms and even companies outside the professional services realm. We’re increasingly finding that clients and prospects are constantly evaluating our attorneys online and the attorneys aren’t aware of it. An attorney might say to me, “I’ve never gotten a client from LinkedIn.” But the truth is, many clients and prospects are looking at their LinkedIn profile before they decide to pick up the phone and if they don’t see the right keywords or the attorneys haven’t included those keywords, when someone is going to Google and typing in those keywords, that attorney isn’t coming up early in the search results, and that could impact their ability to build business in that space. How are people effectively using social media? One of the things we’ve found is that by using a couple of news aggregators to send out clients alerts to a broader audience, it’s really fascinating how certain subtopics draw more and more eyeballs. You can see that certain topics might get 200 or 300 or 400 readers in a very discrete industry segment whereas other articles that are broadly based may not even have a hundred readers. So all that digital information – big data – really gives us a lot of information. The key is how we harness it and use it to be most effective in communicating with clients and prospects.

Sunny: Jill, in our upcoming Gro Pro 20/20 event you will be delivering a case study presentation of your highly acclaimed Fast Forward program. Without giving too much away, can you share with our listeners today a brief snapshot of exactly what this program is and more importantly the level of results you’ve been able to see from its implementation?

Jill: Absolutely! Fast Forward is an integrated business development program that was designed to help younger partners, typically those who have been partners for 10 years or less, to accelerate revenue growth through a rigorous and systematic approach to business development. This program started at our firm over 12 years ago. We are now implementing our sixth two-year program. What this program does that’s different from others is that it selects partners to be included, it includes both an an individual business plan and a personal coach as well as a group component, bringing people together, both for accountability to their peer group but also assisting with cross-selling. In our inaugural program, many years ago, we had 20 attorneys in the program and they grew their practices $7.5 million over a two year period based on a $150,000 investment.

But that immediate success over two years to me is not the full story. The key is that 9 of those 20 partners have sustainable $1 million+ practices and several of them have gone on to become some of the biggest business generators in the firm. So what we see with this program is that it really addresses what I call the “Valley of Despair” that happens to new partners. When you’re a very successful senior associate and you become a partner, suddenly the work that was assigned to you goes away because you no longer have the title of associate and your partner peers are expecting you to generate your own business. We often see drop-offs in workload and fee receipts for young partners and they don’t know where to turn. What Fast Forward really does is put business development at the forefront, teaches them sustainable habits that will help them both build their own practice and help provide work to other associates, now that they are no longer an associate, for the years to come.

Sunny: Jill, thank you so much for spending some time here with me today. It’s been a pleasure and I am very much looking forward to hearing more from you at the conference.

Jill: Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with you. I am very much looking forward to the conference as well.

Interview with Lexis Nexis

Scott Wallingford
Vice President, Law Firm Practice Software Solutions
LexisNexis-horiz

Sunny: Hello everyone. My name is Sunny McCall and I am Momentum’s Vice President of Content and Experience and Program Director of the upcoming GroPro 20/20 Event. It is my great pleasure to be here today with Scott Wallingford, VP and GM, Law Firm Software Solutions and VP for Strategy at LexisNexis. Scott welcome.

 

Scott: Thank you Sunny. Great to be here.

 

Sunny: It’s our pleasure Scott, thanks so much. By way of background, Scott is a seasoned group-oriented executive with strong corporate and management consulting experience that has been developed across the US, Europe and Asia. Possessing a proven ability to improve profits through customer insight and segmentation, new business creation, cost restructuring and operational effectiveness, Scott has significant expertise in B2C and B2B ecommerce, software as a service and technology enabled service businesses.

Scott, let’s go ahead and just jump right in there. For an industry that likes to take its time to adopt new technologies, the professional services industry certainly seems poised to reap tremendous benefit from the current state of innovation and technology deployment. Where do you see the greatest lift for the legal industry with respect to technology?

 

Scott: You know, that’s a great question. Every firm I speak with that is very motivated on how do you grow your revenue, how do you expand your profits per partner, the biggest challenges, is it’s a very competitive space. Technology is part of an answer. It’s not the whole answer, if you will, but it’s been very encouraging to see firms that historically have been using excel files to manage their business development process, their marketing contacts, etc., that now realize there is a better and much more automated way to do things that brings that mobile-centric view. You can really tap into your CRM system and not just use it as a Rolodex but really harness the power of that to understand the contacts that you have at a firm that you are trying to build a relationship with. And not just the number of, ‘hey, do six people know people?’ but how strong are those relationships. And at my firm, do I have lots of people that know lots of people on the other side or is everything concentrated into one relationship? And the technology is really just there to kind of expose the truth, if you will, and then you can act on it. So the power of understanding your relationship strength, to then say, well, how do I go build stronger relationships with this key client, because if I don’t have lots of people on my side that know lots of people on their side, it’s going to be very difficult to win an RFP. And just when somebody throws an RFP over the wall, and we say ‘hey that’s a great client, I should go after it’, your odds are not really good in winning that business, and if you really do want to be their partner of choice for often very complicated counsel that they are looking for real solutions to real business problems, you need to build that trust in that relationship over time so they think of you when they are ready to buy the services, because as we all know professional services are bought, they are not sold. This is not TVs and things like that. This is a relationship, I am here to help you with your business in mind and how do we help you be more successful.

 

Sunny: Perfect. Thank you for that Scott, which actually is a nice segue into my next question, which is what is the single largest knowledge gap inside today’s law firm that you’ve observed and how could an existing or even a theoretical technological solution reduce or even eliminate it?

 

Scott: Yeah, this is the fun part, right. Technology moves so fast and I think you know I guess I am privileged to be working on what’s next on our software products, which is a lot of fun. The challenge I see is actually it’s a bit two-fold where you have people that want to grow but they grow the business, haven’t really applied the process discipline around it and think a software tool makes all the difference. When they do make the pieces line up and you have a strategy about where you are trying to go, that’s key. Then kind of what we have tried to do is make sure that the insight that you have in your CRM and sort of this relationship strength can be exposed to all the people in a sort of mobile first environment. It goes with them wherever they want to work, they don’t have to be in their office, since nobody is in their office these days. Everyone is on your iPad, your iPhone, what have you. You need access to this information on the go, how do we make it easier for you to access the true status of this client relationship that you are building, what’s next in the queue and also to have the system help automate the process. So it’s automatically telling you hey this was the next step in your effort to build the relationship. You need to call X clients, you need to send this piece of collateral, it’s time for this follow-up. So, it’s almost the system reminding you to do things as opposed to having a team full of people that are trying to go track everyone down and harass them. Nobody likes to be harassed in this environment, but it really helps tie sort of ‘hey here’s our goals with this client, here are the steps we put in place, and how can we all see the progress we are making’. I guess I find when you are very clear about which clients you want to build that relationship with, what’s your value proposition that you have to offer, and then you create the plan around how will we bring our team to bear on this opportunity. It’s very powerful as long as we execute and follow through. And when the world gets busy, it’s easy to drop the ball. And so part of the technology we’ve tried to build is how to make that system sort of automated if you will, where you can always see where you are and help everybody move things forward. It also gives you a chance to see if things are behind schedule, how do we recover rather than missing key deadlines or not building the relationship like you wanted.

 

Sunny: Perfect. Thank you so much Scott and speaking of execution and follow-through, they say that technology is only as good as the person using it. Given this, what are the two biggest challenges you see in adoption inside the legal industry of technology, and can you share a story of success on how that challenge was successfully overcome?

 

Scott: You bet! It’s a very common belief right that if I buy this software, everything that I wanted from my business development will be solved and I would love to tell you that that’s exactly how it all works since we do sell software. The reality is it has to fit into the broader firm strategy about do you have a sense of what you want to do and what your priorities are and how can the software kind of complement that to keep everything moving forward. I actually do see the technology adoption rates are improving. I guess in many industries you will see it goes slow for quite a long time and then the inflection point will hit. You will have some pretty rapid adoption but just putting in technology doesn’t matter if you can’t get it fully utilized by the broader teams. And not just housed with three business development people or a small business development team, but how do you even weave in the true practicers of professional services, lawyers, consultants, accountants etc.? We’ve actually had some really great success where for an Am Law 50 firm, they actually reach an 88% attorney adoption rate with some of our tools. That’s just a phenomenal rate; love to get it to a 100 but when you are already in the 80s, that’s pretty impressive. And really the key was having a very clear plan and it’s a bit of top-down management but also clear alignment of this is what we are after so we have the strategy, we have the process on how this works, we have the product, the software that will help do this and then we are tracking the metrics and putting the right incentives in place to make sure it all pulls together. Software alone won’t solve anything but software with the right mindset of where are we going, so we have a strategic focus, we know what our goals are and then we are tracking our progress against these. It really does make a big difference and what we have found is the firm that I mentioned with this 88% adoption rate, is growing faster than they had expected so they set out a goal of growing about X level. Their growth has actually exceeded plans because they are getting better coordinated, better info, having the right information to make the right decisions at the right time and able to build those relationships very consciously. And that has led to a lot of new business. It’s also led to a lot of retention of existing business so their loss rate, if you will, clients that walk out the door and go somewhere else is actually declined, as well. So it’s a really powerful story but it does take many pieces coming together.

 

Sunny: Perfect, thank you so much Scott. We are really looking forward to hearing more from you and your peers in the professional services industry at our upcoming GroPro 20/20 Event taking place on June 22 in New York City. Join us to hear more from Scott who will be leading a discussion on technology as a tool to enhance your commerce world and client delivery strategy. To gain more information on the event, I encourage you to visit gropro2020.com. Again, thank you so much for your time today Scott. Really looking forward to seeing you in a few short weeks.

 

Scott: Look forward to seeing you in New York.