The more I am around legal product and service providers, the more I think many of them have a lot to learn about lawyers and marketing. Too much jargon, too much BS, and too little understanding of what drives lawyers. I’m not a vendor, but I did practice law for a long time and have seen lots of pitches. So at the risk of perhaps stating the obvious (which some vendors still seem to need to hear), here are my top 10 tips for legaltech vendors:
1. Don’t talk jargon all the time. Remember that in most cases, the people making the final decision will be lawyers who may not grasp what you are saying. If you are selling to IT folks, make sure you give them the kind of ammo they need to sell your product or service to lawyers. Don’t leave it to the IT people to do. Remember KISS: keep it simple stupid!
2. Think about the proverbial easy button. Your product or service must be easy to use. Most lawyers bill by the hour. Time spent figuring out how to use something isn’t billable and is wasted money. Your product and service need to be demonstrably easy to use and intuitive. Want an example: look at the LitSoftware suite of products.
3. Articulate the problem your product or service is solving for the user. Make sure that it is really a problem and just not something you have dreamed up. Look for solutions that advance the customer’s real needs and concerns. As one of my partners put it: the problem is the problem. Diagnose your customer and user’s problem before you start spouting off solutions.
4. Differentiate your product or service. Why is your product or service different and better than others on the market? To differentiate, you will need to know what other products and services are out there. Identify who your competition is, study what they offer, and articulate how your offering is an improvement.
5. Talk to end users relentlessly. The biggest failures in legaltech happen when a product is too hard to use or doesn’t solve a user’s problem. You can’t know this without talking to users. Not IT people. The would-be users of the product. Much of the time, these users will be lawyers. Get to know them. Try to uncover their concerns and the pressures upon them. If you do, you can better come up with solutions and ideas that meet those needs. And that can get you business. Yes, it’s hard to get in front of lawyers but try to meet them where they are. There are lots of lawyer meetings and conferences that you can attend. Go and talk to the lawyers.
6. Be likable. Don’t be condescending to those you think are less knowledgeable than you. Yes, many lawyers are Luddites regarding technology, but they are the buyers of your product. Treat them with respect. Be presidential. If your product or service is rejected, be gracious and find out why. Being gracious in defeat may lead to another opportunity. Sour grapes will not get you anyplace. And believe me, the legal community is a small world: word gets around pretty quickly who is good to deal with and who isn’t.
7. In general, be interested in lawyer users. Learn and understand what lawyers do and how they function. What makes them tick? What keeps them up at night in general? Stay current on matters of interest to lawyers so you can have interesting and enlightening conversations. Establish your credibility by first being interested in your customer. Be interested in what interests them more than what interests you. If nothing else, being interested in what lawyers are doing will give you something to talk about with them. It will make your time together more enjoyable.
8. It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway since some vendors don’t seem to get it), offer a good product or service. Something that just works (not something that is just work).
9. Be authentic. Be yourself. If you don’t know something, say so. If something is beyond your expertise or knowledge, say so. But stay open to thinking about your customer’s problems and concerns, even when it’s not in your wheelhouse.
Lawyers are born skeptics. They hate BS sales pitches.
10. Know the business needs of your customers and market accordingly. As I have written here and here, the legal market is segmented. The business interests of small, medium, and large firms are entirely different. The needs and interests of firms powered by contingency fees differ quite from those who bill by the hour. Make sure you understand these differences so that your message resonates appropriately.
And one final point above all others. Remember, lawyers are born skeptics. They hate BS sales pitches. So sell softly.