Call us today on 0407 018 109 for a no obligation discussion - what do you have to lose?

How well do you know your AAA clients? (June 2012)

It is always a good idea to seek more work from existing clients rather keep trying to get more new clients.  With more firms marketing in a more sophisticated way, many firms desperately look to protect their AAA clients and, where they can, develop new revenue streams from them.  Their success depends largely on:

  1. How well they know their clients, and
  2. How quickly they can anticipate and respond to changing situations their clients confront.

Many professionals know they need to keep in touch in order to keep their firm at the forefront of a client’s mind. They also know they need to maintain contact in order to understand the changes currently occurring in their clients’ organisations.

This is relationship marketing at its finest.

When you look at really successful professionals they seem to have an ability that sets them apart from the rest. It’s the questions they ask and the way they ask them. They phrase their questions carefully to ensure the answers they receive are useful and lead to information-rich discussions on issues where they can help.
Questioning also really requires us to listen to the answers and listening skills are something we often find difficult to apply consistently. It’s not just about hearing the words; it’s about responding appropriately with the next question.

Asking the right question gives a huge advantage in showing that we are astute and, most important of all, interested. These professionals think of questions as an entitlement to move towards what matters for a client.

Asking the “where are you now” questions

This is a simple way to start and helps get the discussion going. This also helps to gather background information and understand the context of the discussion.  It also helps if you know some basic details about the person in advance. Here are some basic ‘where are you now’ questions:

In addition, you should be mindful how to ask these questions because ‘interrogating’ the client up front to find out all the information they need will stop the discussion dead in its tracks. 

Asking “what’s the matter” questions

These questions further explore the client’s concerns, worries or opportunities. For example:

These questions build the client’s interest in the lawyer because the answers require more thought and are the questions demonstrate his credibility as an adviser.

Asking “what would happen if” questions

These questions get the client thinking through what they need to do about the situation. For example:

As well as thinking about what problems or opportunities this client has, consider the impact from their perspective so that a path of persuasive questioning can be worked out.

Asking the “what results do you want” questions

These questions get the client to think about what solutions and benefits they will get by solving these current problems or capitalising on the opportunities? Examples include:

The answers may be very helpful in identifying ways in which you can assist them.

It pays to get personal

It’s important not to limit your interest to the client’s business. Enquire about how this client is doing personally. Chances are they support your firm and it’s important that you demonstrate that you value the relationship between the lawyers and the client.

Ask if you can help

One of the easiest ways to change the focus of the conversation onto your lawyer and how he can help this client is to ask “Would it be valuable for me to tell you about how we can help with (that issue)?”

This way gives the client the chance to give the ‘green’ or ‘red’ light to your colleague to proceed and tell them. If your lawyer gets ‘green’, they will know that they are on the right road and this client is interested. On the other hand, if they get the ‘red light’ and the client declines their offer, they’ve been given some fantastic feedback that something has gone wrong somewhere in the questioning.

Maybe they jumped the gun and are trying to present their solution before they’ve identified the right issues. Maybe the client doesn’t see the situation as the lawyer sees it. Maybe the client wants to seek help elsewhere. Whatever the reason, this is the chance to clarify their understanding of the client’s views and explore an alternative way forward. This could be by:

Put yourself in the clients shoes

As lawyers we are often the ones doing the talking and not listening – really listening. Let’s give some respect to the client and understand his situation and what is important to him.

The professional that impresses and gains respect is the one that asks intelligent questions; asks his opinion; finds out what is on his mind and engages him in a discussion of equals – the outcome of which may be suggestions as to how they may help. It’s not difficult – just show an intelligent interest in him and his business and demonstrate that you can make a contribution. The client will be willing to listen to what you have to say.

We rarely understand a situation without asking questions and at the right time, questions can really demonstrate our credibility. They can reassure our clients (and potential clients) that we have their interests at heart and are keen to support them in their endeavours. With your competitors moving in on your AAA clients this can help to protect what you have and differentiate you from the competition.