Ernst & Young has summed up exactly what law firms need to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive international legal marketplace: A better sales force. In a recently published article, they outline a “five-element framework based on the sales practices and strategies of the world’s leading organizations”.

The headlines are:

  1. Effective sales strategy and planning: Tailor your offer to each client
  2. Management:  It must be well-managed
  3. Process:  It must be robust
  4. People:  Recruit and retain the best sales talent
  5. Technology: Strong infrastructure boosts sales

The international context

“With businesses battling for market share in a globally competitive marketplace”, E&Y outlines “it is imperative for companies to seize any opportunity to outpace their competitors. Any tool that enables them to maximize revenues by improving their sales function cannot be ignored in today’s tough environment, where only the strongest survive.” 

Does your international law firm have a sales team?

Who in your organization is researching and identifying needle in the haystack opportunities day-to-day? Directing and managing the sales pipeline day-to-day? Articulating wholly individualized opportunities to your ideal prospective clients – online and offline – every day? Ensuring each and every opportunity is pursued and followed up on – each and every day? Closing new business on the basis of value to client — and commercially acceptable terms for your firm – ever day?  And everything in-between – every day?

Some international markets are booming – so your law firm revenue must be also. Right?

Many of the worlds regional and national markets are booming with double-digit growth. Some sectoral markets like energy are doing the same. Given those figures – no international law firm should be doing anything but growing top-line revenue right now. But in order to do it — the best possible salesforce available must be deployed. The focus of which is outbound business development: The identification, pursuit and close of new business.

Sounds simple. It’s not.

It requires rarefied talent to organize, manage and lead – day to day – an international law firm sales force. This specialty is as important as your most sophisticated practitioners are.  In this marketplace – they’re arguably the most important skill set and initiative a law firm could maintain.

Many experts are calling for legal sales divisions

Legal services sector consultants William Flannery JrColin CameronJayne NavarreMike O’Horo, Jim Bliwas, Stephen Fairley and Tim Corcoran – have argued passionately and persuasively for law firms to adopt sales divisions.  And legal services sector consultant Jordan Furlong has outlined: “The inevitable evolution of legal marketing is toward legal sales”.

Both need and solution identified

According to a recent study by legal services sector consultants Altman Weil, increasing revenue is the biggest challenge law firm leaders face over the next few years.  And since revenue is challenge #1 — law firms should be taking Ernst & Young’s advice and putting a legal sales force in place now.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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