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The Dog Didn’t Eat Your Homework

June 3rd, 2013 / - filed under Client Relationships

I sat in on a meeting recently with a professional services firm and its new client.  To say I was floored by the firm’s abject lack of preparation would be a serious understatement.  Most of what was covered in that two hour meeting was available on the client’s website. An hour or two of basic preparation would have cut through a whole lot of clutter.  Better still, meaningful preparation would have enabled the firm to add real value and ask relevant questions, paving the way for creativity, hunger and agency.  Instead, it was a big fat waste of time.  Good thing I’m not the client; I would have fired the firm on the spot.

If you walk into a meeting with new clients or prospects and don’t know about their business—including its challenges and opportunities, historical legal needs, relevant regulatory and commercial developments—you don’t deserve to call them clients.  Earn their favor and their trust from the outset. Those early meetings set the stage for what will hopefully be long and mutually beneficial relationships.  So put on your Sunday best in form and substance.

Research can be overwhelming, we know that.  In fact, a core part of our business is preparing competitive intelligence briefings to support client development.  Our briefings are tailor-made and meaty, so they’re not a viable option for many law firms.  But you don’t need an elephantine research budget to do your homework.  For public company targets, their annual reports and quarterly filings can take you pretty far.  Simple news searches will provide a wealth of information.  Check out litigation histories and dockets on Lexis or Westlaw.  Know your meeting attendees’ bios inside and out.  Just make sure you do your homework. The dog didn’t eat it—the dog can’t do a Google search.  But your competitors can.