How to Create a Culture of Sales Success

Have you ever wondered why some companies struggle just to get by while others flourish?

One of my clients, Phil, was promoted to Managing Director of a medium size law firm in South Florida a little more than a year ago. His firm was heavily into representing condominium associations and real estate transactional work. Phil was the only “business law guy” (his description) in the firm so it was a bit of a shock to the team when the management committee selected him to become the top dog.

To make matters worse, the firm was decimated by the loss of several senior partners when two former shareholders basically raided the firm and took the “top talent” with them.

Two members of the five-member management committee were also calling it quits – one went to work for a client and the other thought he could do better on his own. The firm seemed destined to be absorbed by another, larger law firm. Phil’s partners agreed to give him a year to turn the place around or they would also bail out.

Phil earned this promotion just over a year ago, and his task was clear: Shift the focus of the firm from a real estate shop to a business-focused firm as quickly as possible.

Phil was left with a core team of associates who had little business transaction experience and a few paralegals who had worked exclusively on real estate management and transaction issues.

Fourteen months later, Phil’s firm has doubled its billings. At a recent gathering of my clients, I asked him to give a presentation to the group and talk about how he did it.

Here are his Million-Dollar secrets:

Cultivate potential. Phil said that he thought the main problem with his firm was that the associates were unmotivated. They had been losing for so long that they felt like losers and generally exerted minimal effort. Phil’s first goal was to foster a sense of value and purpose among his colleagues. He offered incentives for reaching and exceeding monthly billing quotas. He met with each employee regularly to give positive feedback on business development techniques that were working. Phil’s positive attitude extended beyond him and influenced everyone who worked for him. Billing and new matter origination began to climb.

Build a team. One of the incentives for exceeding the monthly billing quota was an evening out at the bar, with an open tab, which Phil would cover. He strongly encouraged all associates to attend, and almost all of them did. Spending time in a relaxed setting with each other helped develop a sense of community and common purpose, and being recognized for their work motivated each individual member of the firm to excel. Revenue continued to increase along with moral.

“Wow” our clients. Phil says that it’s his mission to make sure every client will recommend the firm to others. He stops at nothing to make sure their needs are met, and, not surprisingly, he has gotten tremendous positive feedback from them and enjoyed the referrals they have sent his way. Phil does his best to get along with everybody and understand his unique concerns. Making a connection with the client, tuning in to his needs, and making sure he is wowed is Phil’s absolute top priority, he says. His motivation is derived from a desire to provide excellent value and service. Many clients remark that they have never heard that from a law firm.

Constantly improve. Phil expects a lot of himself, his associates, and his firm. He never stops working on ideas to improve what’s already great. From client service to presentation to administration, Phil works hard to stay on top of the game. He keeps his associates busy with their regular caseloads as well as business development projects. He is open to their suggestions for improvement, and implements many of these ideas. He is never satisfied merely to skate by. He is firmly committed to excellence, and he’s determined to do the best he can.

Emphasize value. Phil is a happy person and a positive thinker. When interacting with clients, he places primary focus on the value of the casework and service the company provides. He demonstrates his readiness to provide outstanding service and makes the client feel secure in his investment in the firm. He shares compelling facts about the firm’s success with the team, demonstrating his pride in working where he does. In the presentation he gave to our client group, he emphasized what a fantastic job his team was doing. Though he had been the catalyst for turning them around, he gave the credit for the hard work and upward billing trends to them. Of course, this reveals a personal security and confidence that is magnetic to everyone.

A little over a year ago Phil was left with a core team of associates who had little business transaction experience and a few paralegals who had worked exclusively on real estate management and transaction issues. His aggressive style and his attitude helped turn around a firm that had been lagging for years.

Phil says he can summarize his success in building a culture of sales success with the following statement: Whatever you do, do it well. If you don’t love what you do and you are not rewarded by your work, look elsewhere. Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s by performing half-heartedly. Follow your passion, and find work in which you can make a difference.

Even if you’re not a lawyer, you can follow these lessons and create a similar culture in your company. If you do, your sales success will turn into firm profit success – and that is something everyone supports.

Here are three additional resources to support your company’s transition into a culture of sales success.

How To Increase Sales With More Frequent Communication

You don’t communicate with your clients enough. This podcast will help you make the decision (and take action) in communicating more frequently.

You Are Mismanaging Your Time and It Is Hurting Sales

You can unbury yourself from the paper mountain on top of you.   Start by making difficult choices.

Don’t Tolerate Jerks As Clients

This is your permission to get rid of those clients you cannot stand. Take me up on this offer and you will be happier and healthier.