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Knowing how to sell, the new requirement for the lawyer to become a partner in a law firm

The crisis and an increasingly competitive market force lawyers to develop commercial skills to progress. Experts say that those who do not generate business will remain stagnant.

There was a time when lawyers would set up their small personal law firm, put a sign on the door and wait for clients to come in with their problems, and if they were happy, word of mouth worked reasonably well. If a good network of contacts was added to this, success was assured. But the times when lawyers could dedicate themselves to technical-legal matters have passed into history.
More and more indicators clearly show that in today's complex and competitive legal market, lawyers also have to have a commercial profile to succeed in the profession. «Word-of-mouth has given way to the implementation of commercial actions that make it possible to attract and retain customers. The lawyer must know how to sell, differentiate himself with his competitive advantage in the market and place the client at the center of his activity," says Paula Fernández-Ochoa, founding partner of +MoreThan Law.
The brutal economic crisis has accentuated this scenario. The pie has gotten smaller and there are not enough slices for everyone. According to Esade's study The Lawyer of the 21st Century, professional development courses currently include business generation in the firms' 100% as an essential requirement to be a partner. If you don't sell, you don't go up, it's that easy and that complicated, at the same time.
Eugenia Navarro, managing partner of Tama Projects, points out that "that does not mean that lawyers are not good technicians now, but they must also know how to sell." Lidia Zommer, managing partner of Mirada 360º, emphasizes this point: "You must first be a good lawyer, because selling is making the client trust that we can solve their legal pain."
Creating the sellerAlthough many professionals may have innate commercial skills, "the lawyer can become a salesman. It is a myth that you are only born with it. The problem is that the seller is assumed to have the ability to resist saying no, which makes him a tireless pursuer of his potential clients and, ultimately, annoying. Who wants to be a salesperson when the job is so thankless? Very few people with these premises and even fewer within the world of legal services want to sell. The salesman receives undeserved discredit as a profession in Spain," explains Navarro.
But there is a paradigm shift that forces us to understand that sales is part of the profession and, as experts point out, "it is not only something in large firms, but it is almost more important in small ones because their survival depends on it." ».
Fernández-Ochoa assures that "the lawyer must define a strategy and follow a plan for the sale, set objectives, specify the commercial actions (off and online) to be executed to achieve them, schedule them, set a budget, identify the channels and prepare the right sales message. Improvisation is useless. Sales is an art, yes, but it is also technical, a matter of method, and you can learn to develop it.
Navarro agrees on how important training is, and "that implies that firms must establish business development plans and help with marketing techniques that complement training plans."
Zommer assures that the sales process begins when "we analyze the buyer and identify their concerns, desires, needs and meeting points and continues with professional prestige on the topics in which we want to be perceived as experts."
Subsequently, «the positive attitude of the lawyer and the commitment he achieves with the client is essential for the sale. You must achieve a coherent and solid interaction between the three dimensions of being, feeling and reasoning so that your attitude transmits enthusiasm, achieving the professional assignment," says Fernández-Ochoa.

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