By Steve Fretzin
In the past, sales professionals were often classified as either hunters, actively pursuing new business, or farmers, focused on nurturing and retaining existing clients. While these traditional roles still hold value, today's legal landscape calls for a redefined paradigm to help attorneys effectively grow their law practices. By combining both hunter and farmer activities, lawyers can ensure a thriving practice. Let's explore these approaches and select strategies for a successful year ahead.
The new definition for a hunter is an attorney who actively pursues business development. This means you’re putting yourself out there by strategically attending networking groups, meeting with clients to get more work, developing new strategic partners and other such activities. The new classification for a farmer is a lawyer who prefers to hang back and produce content, including blogging, article writing, podcasting and social media posting.
While you might ask, “Steve, shouldn’t I be doing both hunter and farmer activities?” My response would be that, of course, it’s best to do both. However, for many busy attorneys I’d rather have you doing something productive rather than nothing at all. Here are three hunter and three farmer activities to select from in order to ensure that 2023 ends up better than 2022. My suggestion is to pick one to three of these and really focus on making them happen by scheduling time (like an appointment with yourself) to ensure they get done.
Hunter activity #1: Join a networking group to develop new business. Meeting new people and developing relationships is the cornerstone of a hunter’s mentality. Be sure to find groups, associations, boards and clubs where you can meet potential clients or new strategic referral sources. This might sound obvious, but most attorneys aren’t doing this.
Hunter activity #2: Develop a master list of all your contacts and rate them A, B or C, and then schedule time (coffee, beers, lunch or a game) with your A’s and B’s. These are the people you’ve already invested time with, including clients, other lawyers, friends and even family. It’s time to see how you can help them and they can help you. An easy email to shoot out might read, “Hey Karen, I’d love to get together with you soon and catch up. I’d enjoy learning how I can add value for you in your law practice and share what’s new with me. When’s a good time to meet up?” Always offer to help first, as that’s what networking is all about.
Hunter activity #3: Look inward at your firm for cross-marketing opportunities. You partner’s already have the clients and they’ve never brought you in to work with them. Develop those deep internal relationships with your partners so they know what you do and how you would add value to their clients. Be sure to ask for some origination credit if you’re helping bring in business proactively. After all, it also helps them to increase their bandwidth. If you’re a solo, this can be done just as well with your existing strategic partners.
Farmer activity #1: One of the easiest ways to begin farming for new originations is to get active on social media. The cost and time needed to get started here are negligible. If you’re a big fan of the movie Shawshank Redemption, you know the line, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” That’s how I feel about social media and LinkedIn in particular. In case you were wondering, if you’re not active on LinkedIn, you’re the one dying. FYI, there’s a killer tutorial on LinkedIn best practices on my YouTube channel if you look me up by name.
Farmer activity #2: Writing and publishing articles is another farming activity that will pay off over time if you’re consistent in your efforts. The best part of article writing is the ability to repurpose the content for your monthly newsletter, email blast, social media and posting on your website/blog. I’ve even done an audio version of my article from last month to broaden the content even further. I’m writing this article on a Saturday morning, when clients aren’t available to meet, so it’s perfect.
Farmer activity #3: It’s never been easier than now to create video content. You used to have to hire a videographer, schedule a day off to film and then it would take weeks to get anything finished. Today, you can develop amazing content on Zoom or with your smart phone. Just write down 5-10 things that you solve every day and create 30-second to two-minute clips on your subject matter. As long as the sound and visual are clean, people will watch and listen to you. Like with #2 above, this content can be repurposed in a variety of ways.
Now that we’ve redefined the hunter-farmer paradigm, you need to decide which you are, or a combination of the two. My feeling, as a born hunter, is that you should try to do both the hunting and the farming to ensure you get that book of business built right away. While your almighty billable hours might be steady today, tomorrow is another thing. Smart lawyers plan, execute and follow through on their biz-dev efforts to ensure the best outcomes each year. If you want to BE THAT LAWYER, start hunting and/or farming today.
About the Author
Driven, focused, and passionate about helping lawyers to reach their full potential, Steve Fretzin is regarded as the premier coach, skills trainer, and keynote speaker on business development for lawyers.
Over the past 18 years, Steve Fretzin has devoted his career to helping lawyers master the art of business development to achieve their business goals and the peace of mind that comes with developing a successful law practice. In addition to writing four books on legal marketing and business development, Steve has a highly-rated podcast called, "BE THAT LAWYER."
When not busy helping ambitious attorneys to grow their law practices, Steve enjoys fishing with his son, playing many racquet sports, and traveling with his wife.