Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Law Firm to B2B Sales Cycle Comparison

I went to a meeting of MENG this evening (see my previous post on why) and the presentation was incredibly interesting. The presenter was talking about how successful B2B product companies have completely separated the duties of lead development and prospecting away from the sales force. The presenter illustrated how no lead was turned over to the sales force until it had been verified as a valid, live, ready-to-buy prospect. What I hope to do is have the presenter post a guest article here to give you a deeper look at exactly what he had to teach.

Throughout the presentation I kept thinking though that successful law firms are already doing substantial pieces of what he was evangelizing. In my illustration from early 2005 I identified the three big picture processes that (for me) describe the professional services sales cycle. The part I believe he was describing was what we (legal marketers) call the business development process.

The best person I've ever known at this part of the cycle was Mark Prynn of Deloitte & Touche. Mark would work off of what marketing could provide in order to simmer it in the slow process of selling professional services. We could feed him leads (if he was not already developing them himself), and he would further qualify them, understand where they were or were not in a salable cycle, and create a relationship dependent on the level of buyer. Some where phone calls now and again. Others were visits, meals, etc. And some shot straight to the top of "hot now". Mark's job was to keep touching the prospect until they were ready to be sold... and then he brought in the sales team (the closers), which we all know in law firms, is the partner (the billing partner).

Gauging by what tonight's presenter revealed I believe law firms are definitely on the right path with the introduction of sales professionals in business development roles. I do think it is important for us to remember that the "sales force" is the partners. Not anyone that comes earlier in the process. Since what we sell (not the commodity) is relationships we need to be certain that our prospects bond with the product. Not the hope of a product.

My goal, get in touch with tonight's presenter and lure him into blogging what I saw so that you can see too.

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