In this episode I discuss a disturbing pattern of behavior that I often see in the solo and small firm attorneys community and it’s always been there. A lot of us create standards for how we want other people to engage in the world, how we want other people to show up in our lives, how we want other people to behave in our businesses, yet we do not meet our own standards. I wanted to share with you some of my reflections on this topic because I know that the inability to see this pattern is keeping a lot of lawyers stuck where they are.
In this episode we discuss:
- The incompatibility between how you are showing up and what you are expecting from others.
- 5 categories of behavior that influence how we interact in our businesses.
- How an economic cost must be associated with value, for you to make that expenditure.
- How when you shift your pattern of behavior, it will influence your prospect to do the same.
- The need to take time off to recharge just as you encourage or require your employees to take their PTO.
- Making your marketing message about the prospect, not all about you, the lawyer.
- Identifying cognitive dissonance between your marketing message and your actual feelings about your business.
- How systems can make the difference between having a job and running a business.
- Guiding a prospect to the understanding that you are the valuable expert that can solve their problem.
Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hi everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:24] Hello, everyone, it is Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor, and this is a solo episode that I decided to record on the podcast to talk to you guys about something that I’m seeing out in the community. And by community, I’m talking about when I interface with other lawyers, especially solo and small firm attorneys, that I see as a disturbing pattern of behavior. And it’s always been there. But I think that sometimes you start to, when you pick up on things, you start to see more and more examples of it. And I wanted to share with you some reflections about this, because I know that this is a part of success mindset and that the inability to see this pattern is keeping a lot of lawyers stuck where they are. So it really is the idea of living up to your own standards. And I think that a lot of us create standards for how we want other people to engage in the world, how we want other people to show up in our lives, how we want other people to behave in our businesses, and we do not meet our own standards. We think that we do, because in the moment when we are requiring something of a person, we would ultimately be responsible for and probably do a very good job of that thing. So if you think about just your your legal work itself, if you are somebody who is very eloquent on your feet, you might want to require that of another person. And when you’re looking at your junior associate, you might think this person is not eloquent on his or her feet. That then tells me that they’re not living up to my standard.
Allison Williams: [00:02:04] But I want you to think about generally patterns of behavior and the fact that when we see a behavior in another person that really infuriates us, that it feels like it is something that is a betrayal or something that is infuriating because it defies us in some way and we feel triggered by that behavior. I want you to really ask yourself, is there a place where you are engaging in this behavior?
Allison Williams: [00:02:33] If not in the same scenario, then certainly in similar scenarios where you might actually be falling short of the standard that you have for someone else. Now, before you reject that notion, because I know lawyers, and I know myself in particular, I know I would be the first one to say that’s not true. I’m pissed off because somebody is not meeting my standards, not because I’m not meeting my standard. I want you to think about it in several contexts, and I’m going to give you some examples to put a frame around this that can help. But I want to just start off with the basic premise that you can’t live the Wal-Mart life and expect the Bergdorf Goodman existence, OK? Again, you can’t live the Wal-Mart life and expect the Bergdorf Goodman existence. So what we’re talking about here is an incompatibility between how you are showing up and what you are expecting from other people, because when you are having standards and requirements that transcend how you are being in the world, oftentimes what tends to happen is you attract people who are functionally where you are in your journey, even if they have less experience or they’re performing a different role.
Allison Williams: [00:03:48] But they will oftentimes see the world the same way that you do and function in the world the same way that you do. And that actually is what creates that level of continuity and comfort that you develop with a person, even if you don’t really know why. Right. And I’m sure we’ve all seen it where you interview several candidates and maybe you get it down to like the top two and one of them is just a little bit something more than the other. It’s not necessarily that they went to a better school or they have a better writing sample or they did a better job on your skills test. It might not even be that your team likes them more, but something about that person resonates with you. So one of the things I want to give you as a thought as we go into the discussion of today is to really ask yourself where you are compatible with a person and by compatible I’m not talking about relationship compatibility, but where you are in harmony with a person who is causing you some level of tension and friction, because it’s often when we see beneath the hood of that person that the thing that we are most annoyed by with that person are the things that we ultimately don’t do ourselves. OK, so I want to just again take you back to the analogy we started with the Wal-Mart versus Bergdorf Goodman. You can’t have something if you are not being that something. You can’t aspire to be exceptional if you are living in mediocrity and expecting other people around you to be exceptional because, like attracts like. OK, before you say opposites attract, opposites do attract in terms of having complementary levels of engagement.
Allison Williams: [00:05:33] But you’re not going to find someone who on a scale from one to ten is a 10. Being in harmony with someone who want to scale from one to ten is a two. People generally correlate and connect around their levels of comfort with each other, and that is often driven by how they’re similar, not how they’re different. OK, so five areas, again, that I’ve looked at recently and these really deal with the things that I coach lawyers around the most. So some of it is things that I’ve talked to lawyers about in my own community and our coaching community. Some of it is things that I just see kind of interacting when I’m on stage. Recently, I spoke at the Law Firm Growth Summit that was hosted by Moshe Amsel and I saw some of this patterning in terms of the people who were making statements in the chat, some of their, some of their thought processes about how things should be versus how they are. It raised the question, at least in my mind, from what I know of the people who were speaking as to whether or not there really is compatibility between the actions of the speaker and the behavior of the person they’re complaining about. OK, so we’re going to call these just our, our categories.
Allison Williams: [00:06:47] Ok, so in the category of money, category number one is money. OK, some of you might be in this category where you are pinching pennies, constantly aiming to negotiate down, to be constantly complaining about what things cost, that you’re paying your bills late and you’re coming up short on money. But yet you want your clients to pay their bills on time. You want your clients to see the value in what you offer. You want your clients to immediately make the payment of whatever the fee is. You want your clients to inherently know to come up with the money no matter what it takes because of how, how high a value you place upon your services. OK, and if you see that incompatibility, oftentimes it seems justified because if you are somebody who operates off of a tight budget or you’re somebody who highly prioritizes being thrifty or somebody who really prides themselves on negotiation. Right. It may very well be that what you have said is a positive thing. You’re not correlating with the behavior of your prospects because you believe your prospects are engaging in negative behavior. Maybe your prospects are questioning your value when they don’t pay your bill or maybe your prospects are paying your bill late saying they don’t have the money, but then you’re seeing them on social media posting about their vacations. Right?
Allison Williams: [00:08:21] You’re seeing an incompatibility between their behavior and their words. And I want you to ask yourself, are you doing anything that is an incompatibility between your words and your behavior? So are you somebody who says, wow, that’s really expensive, I couldn’t possibly pay that because you’re thinking about the cost, you’re not thinking about what you’re getting in exchange for the cost. You’re not thinking about when I make this investment of X dollars in exchange for X dollars, I’m going to get something that’s going to enhance my life greater than the amount of money I’m spending, because really that’s all that a buying decision is. And it’s it’s that way whether you are buying for your business or you’re buying for your personal life. Right. If I decide I want to go out and spend five thousand dollars on a handbag, that handbag is going to do something more for me than my five thousand dollars. Or if I decide I’m going to have a decadent meal out with my spouse, that two hundred dollar meal that my spouse and I share might be more valuable than the two hundred dollars I’m exchanging for it. Not because you can actually equate the two in terms of two hundred dollars is actually worth the steak, the potatoes, the wine, whatever, but because the exchange is the exchange of value.
Allison Williams: [00:09:45] So if I am valuing something at a high price and I’m willing to pay a high price for the thing that I’m going to receive in exchange for what I’m receiving is of greater value than what I’m going to ultimately give up in order to have the thing that I’m receiving. So if you think about it from that perspective and that all buying decisions have an element of exchanging value, that’s what you’re doing when you are trading your dollars for your new marketing activity or your personnel or the swag that you’re going to give out to your clients. Right. There’s an economic cost, but that economic cost is associated with the value and presumably the value of what you’re getting is greater to you than the cost of what you’re spending or else you wouldn’t make that expenditure. So when you look at your clients and your clients are saying, wow, I didn’t know that this was going to cost an extra seventeen hundred dollars for me to file this application with the court, or I think you did a great job in court, but I just don’t have it. Meaning they allowed their mind to stop looking for other ways to manifest the money in order to pay for whatever that thing is, whatever that service was that you either already provided or are going to provide in the future.
Allison Williams: [00:10:59] If it’s a sales conversation, your client is doing the same thing that you do when you say to whatever service provider that you are engaged with. I can’t afford. I don’t want to come up with. My mind is not going to look for the way to come up with whatever the economic value is. And there’s nothing inherently right or wrong with this. I don’t want this to be a judgment conversation, but I want you to start to see some of the same patterns of behavior that you’re engaged in that your clients are also engaged in. Because when you start to shift the way that you engage in the world, you start to find a way to engage with your prospects and your clients in a way that is meaningfully different and fundamentally different than the way that they engage with you now. Because, again, like attracts like. So if you’re putting out a signal of I only pay for things when the value that I’m going to get is something that I can legitimize in my mind as costing something very low to me. And I’ll have plenty of leftover money and I won’t have to think about what money I’m going to have to create to replace whatever I expense. You are engaging in a pattern of behavior that is going to resonate with the people that you attract.
Allison Williams: [00:12:17] And so when you start to raise your standard for how you deal with money, oftentimes you will find that your clients engage with you differently as well. But that’s part of the reason why you’re at Law Firm Mentor. When we start coaching lawyers on sales and sales conversations, not only do they find the way to communicate differently with prospects about the sales transaction, but they also start to change their own pattern of behavior around money because what they are asking of a person is incompatible with how they are showing up unless they choose to show up differently. Right. So if they decide I’m going to be that person who says if I need something that’s going to enhance my life and be a value to me, I am going to find a way to make that happen. The same way that when I speak with a prospect who may not immediately believe that they have the money, who may be afraid, who may be stopping himself, that person also needs guidance to be able to find the resources. And if I’m a person who finds the resources for what I need, I can inspire, require and assist a prospect to do the exact same thing. OK, so money is category number one now, category number two involve people because we have to deal with people in our law firms, be it our clients, our employees, our vendors.
Allison Williams: [00:13:38] So a lot of people have people issues in law firms. In fact, that’s one of the things that almost invariably comes up at every single business retreat we have throughout the year, even though we have a retreat later in the year that’s dedicated just to people. It’s called Thrive Tribe Tactics. But even aside from that retreat, people comes up at Systematize Your Law Business. People comes up at the Marketing For The Masters Retreat People, comes up for when we talk about Legal Sales for Attorneys and Non-Attorneys because people are how money flows. Right. Money flows through people. So you have to be able to inspire people to contact you through the marketing. You have to be able to communicate with people in order to get them to buy your service through the sales process. You have to be able to hire people and manage and lead them effectively in your company in order to have a well running business. So people are always going to be at the epicenter of business in a law firm business, even as we start to automate more and do more with artificial intelligence. So some of the people issues that come up, this is kind of the the big disconnect that I see when people talk about their people. If it’s OK, ask yourself, do you fit into this category?
Allison Williams: [00:14:50] You want a loyal, dedicated workforce. Full of people that love to come to work, who do their jobs effectively, who always give one hundred and ten percent, but yet you come to work and you complain about how busy you are, you complain about how exhausted you are. You complain about all the things that you have to do. You’re feeling overloaded, stressed, mentally fatigued with your work. And I want you to think about how when you are saying to your employees, either directly or essentially implicitly through the way that you engage with them, that you want them to be happy at work and you want them to be fulfilled at work and you want them to give that extra bits. They don’t give the extra because you don’t give the extra. And by the extra, I’m not talking about extra labor because almost invariably, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re somebody that either has workaholism in your blood or you’re somebody who either works more than you’d like to work or you’re working to such a degree that you are getting the work done. But it’s working a lot harder than you otherwise would like to. So this is not to castigate you that you’re not working enough. Most people don’t listen to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast don’t have that problem. But when I say you’re not doing enough, I’m talking about doing enough in terms of creating an environment for yourself where you are going to show up for work and enjoy the work the same way that you want your employees to show up for work and enjoy the work.
Allison Williams: [00:16:30] So I want you to think about the things that we inherently baked into the cultures of our businesses so that people will enjoy their workplaces. So we have things like paid time off. We afford people the right to be compensated even when they are physically not at work. Right, they receive a certain amount of days when they can be sick or they can be on vacation or they can just not give a shit and not want to be bothered and they can call in and not come to work. Right. We also have holidays whether we personally celebrate the holiday or not. We have those holidays that are on our schedule that we have for our employees under the under the premise of you shouldn’t be working every single day from sunup to sundown in order to receive your pittance. Right. We’re not in feudal times. Right. You want to have people be able to come to work and you want them to recharge themselves in order to be their best selves at work. So part of that recharging comes in the form of taking time off, and it’s not just physically recharging, it is also mentally, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually recharging. OK, turning off that battery that says I’m working all day, every day and I’m banging it out and shifting over into thinking and directing your energy toward other activities. And it doesn’t even have to be significant activity. Right. This can be I’m taking my time and energy and directing it toward, you know, laying around the beach, reading a book, Netflixing and chilling. Right? Whatever you want to do with your time is yours.
Allison Williams: [00:18:09] But if you’re spending your time away from work, you are recharging the batteries so that when you come back to your work, you’re a refreshed version of yourself. But how many of you expect and require of your team members? You say to them, either I’m going to give you this PTO and you’re going to use it or you’re going to lose it. Right? Use it or lose it is often an incentive that employers will put into the employment contract. And by contract, I don’t mean you actually have a physical contract. Some of you may. But I’m really talking about just kind of the rules of engagement at your workplace. You bake into your workplace the idea that people need to take time off because you recognize that not only do you need time off away from your business on the weekend, but you need some extended time off and you need time off built into the system of keeping yourself going in the business to be your best selves. Now, how are you expecting that of your employees when you’re showing up seven days a week, you’re skipping out on holidays, you’re skipping out on weekends, you’re skipping out on breakfast with your family, dinner with your family. You’re skipping out on major life events like birthdays, bar mitzvahs, weddings. You’re skipping out on life in order to be on all the time and slaving away as if that somehow makes you a better business owner. Or you’re building your empire or chasing the dream.
Allison Williams: [00:19:32] You create this idea of supremacy in yourself. Because you are doing so much more, but I want you to think about the idea that if you are creating that image and you are living up to that image of being the obsessed workaholic who never takes time off or a person who feels guilty about taking time off. So you actually take the time because your spouse requires it or your kids require it or your parents require it or whatever you have going on in your life, you take the time. But mentally in your head, there is a cognitive dissonance, a disconnect that says I’m not being a good business owner when I take this time. So now you are feeling guilty about it and you’re either resentful about being with your family and thinking about work or you’re resentful about being at work and thinking about your family. Right. So you’re not being authentically one hundred percent there. One hundred and ten percent. One hundred twenty percent there for your business. When you’re at your business, you’re not even at one hundred percent, maybe 50, maybe 60, maybe 70 percent. But you’re less than your best at your business because you are distracted, because you have not given yourself the rest that you require of your employees. And in that way there is a disconnect between what you are requiring of others and what you authorizing for yourself.
Allison Williams: [00:20:56] Ok, so that’s category number two, category number one with money category. Number two is people. And now we’re going to move on to category number three, which is marketing. OK, so the category of marketing is an interesting one, because there are a lot of different ways where people are requiring something of others that they are not living up to when the area of marketing comes up. OK, so I want you to think about this in a couple of different ways. I’m going to give you a couple of examples with marketing, because marketing is probably harder to see for most people than others. So I want you to ask yourself if this describes you. You want people to call your law firm knowing what you do. That you’re the best at what you do, how you handle issues, how you work with people, but you don’t say anywhere in any communication that would drive a person to call your office, those things that you want them to know about you. OK, again, you want people to call the office, you want them to know you’re the kick ass criminal defense lawyer of your county. You want them to know why you’re better than John Doe, criminal defense lawyer down the street.
Allison Williams: [00:22:15] You want them to get that you’re the one to help them. You want them to come in, enthused about the opportunity to work with you, to see you in a category of one. And yet when you are talking about your business, you talk about your business in this amoebic flaccid, uninterested, very bland sort of way. And that can be through having a website that says, hi, my name is lawyer and I practice law. Or it can be that you actually do say things about yourself, but there’s no energy behind it. There’s no live behind it. There’s no life behind it. So if I read your website, I’m reading the practice area, the physical location, the name, rank and serial number of you, like where you went to law school and how many degrees you have. Maybe you put something on there like you’re married with kids and a pet, but you’re not telling me anything about all of the things that you want me, as the consumer to intuitively know about you, such as that you are superior at this. That you have a way of doing this that is beneficial to me, that is better for me than anyone else that can do this work. So the messaging that you’re putting into the marketing falls far shy of what you’re expecting of the prospect to have a feeling about when they call your office. And you might not immediately be aware of that. In fact, you might, you might even resist that idea and think, well, wait a minute, now I tell people how great I am.
Allison Williams: [00:23:45] I tell people I’m a really good lawyer. I know my stuff. But saying I’m a really good lawyer and I know my stuff is about you. It’s not about your prospects. So how is it that you are expecting your prospect to know that you are the right choice for them when nothing that you say is about them. Everything that you say is about you. You went to law school here. You have a certain pedigree. You have been certified by X, Y, Z companies. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:24:16] So there’s, there’s a disconnect in the way that you’re talking about your business, because what you’re talking about does not inspire the person to know what is beneficial for them. And yet you’re expecting them to know that your company is beneficial for them when they call. You want the prospects to call, ready to buy and you haven’t done anything to get them there. All that you’ve done is stick up a website or be available for Google my business or had a relationship with someone else who says you’re great. But that still does not convince the other person of you. That might convince the other person to believe the person that referred them. Right. So personal referrals do have a great value. I’m certainly not saying they don’t. But you want to think about the idea that you are requiring people to have an intuitive and intellectual knowledge of you that you are not providing to them.
Allison Williams: [00:25:07] OK, that’s one area with marketing. Now the other area with marketing is an interesting one. And it really goes to the idea of empowering your clients. And this really goes with putting yourself out there. Like how much and how naturally are you marketing? Are you packaging yourself in a way that is sellable rather than authentically who you are? And we talk a lot about authenticity. And so I don’t want to really go down that rabbit hole. I know that there’s a lot of people that promote that as kind of the the new wave of how we market. But it’s more than just authenticity. It really is. I want you to ask yourself, are you somebody who does not speak your truth, live your power, promote your business, because you have some trepidation about being seen, being heard, being visible, being known by others. And intellectually, you may say that’s not, of course, the case. You would love to have everybody in your county know that you are the number one estate planning lawyer in the county. Right. So on a conscious level, you may very well debate or disagree with the idea that you’re putting yourself out there. But I want you to really ask yourself, like, are you talking about your business at every turn? If somebody says, you know, hi, my name is Dave, it’s really nice to meet you, what is your name?
Allison Williams: [00:26:33] If you don’t use that as an opening to say, my name is John Doe and I own the John Doe law firm because it intuitively flows from you that this is what you do and you want everyone to know about it, or when there’s an opportunity for you to get on the stage or get on a platform or get on a webinar or get in front of video. If there’s something that is calling at you as an opportunity for you to put yourself out there, I want you to ask, are you notwithstanding resisting those things or simply failing to seize the opportunity? Are you at the same time requiring your clients to put themselves out there and take risks in the case that you’re representing them in? And that could be with a contract negotiation, being vulnerable about something that is important to them as a means of driving a negotiation forward. It could be in litigation. You’re asking them to stand up for a principle that matters to them, even though they are afraid that the adverse party is going to retaliate or the adverse party is going to drop the litigation. Right. So you may be requiring something of a person that that says to them, you have to have the balls, pardon my French to be able to step into what we need to do in order to get the greatest result for you. But yet you are not living that life. You are not about that life. You are holding back when you talk about your business and you are not promoting your business in a way that says I stand for what I believe in at all times and I believe in my law firm.
Allison Williams: [00:28:15] Or perhaps you don’t believe in your law firm, in which case you should be asking yourself, what do I need to do in order to get to a place where I believe in my law firm and I can talk about it with that level of clarity and that level of confidence. OK, and for those of you that are in the category of not really feeling your law firm, like you think you’re a good lawyer, but what you have created in business does not reflect how good you are, what you do in the service. You are still being a service provider. You are still being an employee. You are not being a business owner. Right. And I want you to really think about that from the perspective of creation, because when we create things, if we’re not proud of what we created, there is going to be a level of cognitive dissonance between saying I created this thing over here and speaking about it to other people, because, of course, if you’re saying, hey, my business is great, and yet you’re in your mind saying, well, you know, it’s bedlam. When I come into the office, things are always running out of the office late. Clients are kind of crazy. I don’t enjoy them. I don’t like the work that we do. I don’t like how much money I’m making. If you have all of that negativity baked into your business, then of course, there’s going to be cognitive dissonance when you go try to promote it.
Allison Williams: [00:29:34] Right. So that’s another area where marketing, where you can have an inconsistency between who you are being, where you are creating a standard for other people, but you are not living up to that standard. OK, fifth pardon me. Fourth category is with regard to systems. Now, this is systems in anything in your business. OK, but it’s also a system of everything in your business. OK, so I want you to ask yourself if you fit into this category. You want a business that runs without you. You want to be able to go on vacation for as long as you want to go on vacation. Two weeks, three weeks, a month, two months. But you haven’t systematized your business, OK? You focus on chasing checks. You lean into systems regarding the law, so you meet your deadlines, you make sure that you comply with statutes of limitations. All those things that you are taught in your profession that you have to do. But you don’t have systems for finance. You don’t have systems for marketing, you don’t have systems for intake. You don’t have systems for consultations. And if you’re you’re not there to create, monitor and enforce your systems, they don’t happen. Right. It’s kind of a hodgepodge. Sometimes people do what they’re supposed to do, sometimes not. Sometimes people follow the system, sometimes not. Now, if that is the existence that you have created, I want you to ask yourself how many times you get pissed off when your client doesn’t return their discovery responses on time. Or how many times your adversary, you get annoyed with your adversary because he or she emails you instead of emailing your secretary’s inbox.
Allison Williams: [00:31:18] Right, so you want the consistency, the ease, the flow that comes with having things happen consistently according to a schedule, according to a process that everyone follows and it works like clockwork. But yet when you are looking at other people having that same standard, you know, in your heart of hearts, you haven’t done the work to get your life and your business to function this way. You feel a sense of internal strife about the idea that you want the court to start exactly at nine o’clock when you have a nine o’clock calendar call, but yet that same lack of system, lack of structure or lack of enforcement and compliance with the system that the court system is engaged in, you’ll complain about that all day, every day. But yet you don’t have a system for how many times you’re going to be out networking to generate leads. You don’t have a system for how many times you’re going to be having communications with your company to make sure that you are getting the right type of client to your, to your business based on the marketing message that they create for you. You don’t have a system for your bookkeeping or your system is a really shitty one, which is you spend your Saturdays every other month cranking out the credit card reconciliations. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:32:37] So it could very well be that you have an idea of what you want in terms of systems for other people, but you live in a state of bedlam or rather you don’t live in bedlam because you don’t look at it. You say, OK, I’ve got my legal systems dialed in. Right. I know. I know what my case workflow is going to look like. I know how many clients are going to be serviced by my office. I know what I’m going to charge those clients. All of that stuff I got good. All of that other stuff, all of that infrastructure stuff like when I am going to be generating leads and where I’m going to be generating leads and how are we going to pivot my marketing to address evolutions in the economy, evolutions in the way that people are consuming media now adapting to new platforms like Tick Tock or Clubhouse, like all of those things. You don’t have a system for those things. Right? Even though the lack of system in those things affects how your business functions, just as the lack of systems for the courthouse or the lack of compliance with that system is why judges will show up well after the calendar call started, or the reason why an adversary doesn’t return your phone call or doesn’t get back to you by email or emails your office to the wrong email address. Right. Because they’re not on a system either.
Allison Williams: [00:33:59] And when you get infuriated with how they’re not on a system for you, I want you to really ask yourself, how much do you actually live a life that is well orchestrated around the systems that are run by people other than you in your business? OK, because by the way, if you’re required for your systems to run in your business, you don’t have a business. You have a job. Your name is on the job. You might even be paid well for the job. But you have a job. A job requires you. A business generates for you, whether you are there or not. So when you have the systems mentality and you bake that into everything in your business, what you will find is that of course there will always be people that are in their own state of chaos. But you’ll have a way of dealing with that that is much more effective for who you are and you’re not going to be triggered by it to the same degree. Right. This is all about how we are thinking about other people relative to how we are behaving in the world. And what I see a lot of lawyers doing is that they’re hypercritical about how other people are showing up when they don’t want to take a look at themselves and say, why am I so frustrated by this other person not doing something? And where am I doing the same thing?
Allison Williams: [00:35:19] Because what you’ll find is that when you identify the similarities between your behavior and the behavior in others, that annoys you when you see that similarity and you’re able to re-pattern your own behavior, not only do you solve problems that you didn’t even know existed in your own behavior. You start to make your life easier. And of course, here at Law Firm Mentor, we’re always big proponents of having everything systematize because the more you systematize things, the easier it is to make money. The easier it is to have time. The easier it is to have people in your environment that you enjoy. But assuming for the moment that you’re on the journey to getting there, as you step up your behavior in that regard, other people take notice of the fact that you are consistently reliable to your word in the way of your system and they oftentimes will follow suit. It doesn’t mean that they immediately change, doesn’t mean that if they are a person that lives in chaos, they won’t anymore. But it does mean that the way that they interact with you is going to conform more to your system than it otherwise would if you allow yourself to have the chaos and then complain about their chaos.
Allison Williams: [00:36:29] All right, fifth and final category. So we have talked about the ways in which you may not be living up to your own standards with money, with people, with marketing and with systems. And now we’re going to talk about sales. OK, so I want you to ask yourself now, are you in this category? So you want people to come to your office and buy at the first consultation? They make an appointment, they pay the consultation fee, they show up for their appointments, they sign on the dotted line, they sign the retainer agreement, you get started the day that you meet them. That’s what you want, right? You want it to be a seamless, easy process whereby people are going to be automatically aware that you’re the one to help them and they’re going to make that final decision right then in there. But the story comes out of them that they don’t have the money. That they can’t get the money or it’s not important enough to them to ultimately have the money. And when that happens, what do you do?
Allison Williams: [00:37:37] Well, you buy the story. And then they don’t buy at the first appointment. It requires a series of follow ups, you end up chasing them to try to get them to buy. Now, how might you be showing up in the world that’s compatible with that pattern as opposed to showing up in a world that’s compatible with the pattern that you want because you want them to show up at the first appointment primed to have a real conversation about what their needs are, what their problem is, how their problem impacts them, and how ultimately, if they don’t solve that problem, there’s going to be a consequence that is not conscionable for their life and therefore they’re going to solve the problem.
Allison Williams: [00:38:19] So you want them to have that experience of your conversation with them where they reach the conclusion on their own without poking, prodding, harassing, convincing. None of that. Right. They just reached the conclusion that you are the one to help them because you asked very poignant questions that got them tapped into how significant their problem is and why they need to solve it now. That’s what you desire. But yet when you show up and have a conversation with other people about something that you may require, something that you may not have budgeted for for this year. Something that just, you realize you have a problem and you need to solve it. And you show up and what do you do? You shut down. You you won’t let the conversation flow naturally. You won’t let the person who’s asking you questions really evaluate and understand your problem. So you kind of give surface answers and you stay in the in the kind of intellectualism of your problem. So you have decided what the solution is going to be and you have decided what you’re going to pay for it. And then when the person is asking you questions that may demonstrate that your problem is much bigger than you initially came to believe, what happens? You either reject that idea because you want to be right. You want to hold firm to the idea that this is a small problem and it requires a small investment to resolve it.
Allison Williams: [00:39:43] Or if you allow that person to have the conversation with you, as soon as you hear the dollar amount, you get sticker shock and you’re like, oh, my God, I wasn’t expecting that. Let me now run and hide. Right. Just like your prospects do. OK? And so there’s a lot of us that when we are in a process of having a legal consultation, we don’t try to sell the client at all. We just kind of show up and we audition. We ask a couple of questions. What happened? Who are the players? What is the legal problem? What might I say is the legal solution? Then you kind of summarize some thoughts about the legal solution and you say, all right, now that I’ve told you what the answer is, that’ll be ten thousand dollars, please. And thank you. And the person hasn’t had any level of awareness based on that conversation as to why you are the person to help them, why your solution is valued and what you are charging, and why this is in their best interest to move forward. So when you encounter other people, if you’re not having that level of conversation with them, it could be because you’re just not having a good salesperson, or it could be because you are resistant to the idea of letting someone else guide you through a process. So you have it in your mind, well, I know my problem, so therefore I must know my solution.
Allison Williams: [00:41:01] But one of the things that I say to people often, and this is probably one of the most common lines that I have used in the course of selling coaching services and legal services. I tell people very candidly, you have the problem that you have. If you knew how to solve your problem, we wouldn’t be talking right now. Right. It isn’t that I’m superior to you. It’s that I’m in the business of solving this problem. And you came here because I’m in the business of solving this problem. You have a problem. And no matter how intelligent or capable or skilled that you are, you haven’t been able to solve this problem or else you wouldn’t be here talking to someone, asking to have them solve the problem. So to suggest that because you know, the problem you also have the solution is a little absurd. You don’t actually know the solution. You might think you know the solution. You might think that you know that this is a solution that requires X, Y and Z, or maybe you spoke to a friend or maybe you consulted Google or all the things that prospects will do when they’re searching for legal services. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:42:02] You may think that your problem is a one, two, three problem, but when you talk to an expert, what you learn is your problem is a one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve problem. And the person who is able to not just give you the solution or tell you what the solution is and why it costs so much more. But the person who helps you see that your problem is much bigger than you believe, is ultimately going to facilitate you recognizing that you need a much bigger solution than you ultimately came to believe when you walked through that door. OK, but it does take a willing participant to have that level of conversation. So I want you to ask yourself, would you be willing to have that level of conversation with the prospects? And when you are a prospect, when you go into a business, when it’s time for you to buy a house, when it’s time for you to buy a car, when it’s time for you to invest in your business, when you’re looking at something that is going to ultimately benefit you in some way but has a high ticket cost to it relative to what you’re used to spending, are you trying to micromanage yourself into an answer that fits what you want to define the problem as? Or are you letting an expert truly guide you to a solution that might be much bigger because your problem is much bigger than you have chosen to define it? OK.
Allison Williams: [00:43:21] And if you are somebody that tries to micromanage the solution and you are having that type of experience with your clients, when your clients, they may tell you, but many of them will tell you, a whole lot of people just don’t have the balls to say no. They say, I can’t afford it or I’ve got to check with my spouse or let me ask my mama or I’ll wait until tax day. They say whatever they have to say to get out of the discomfort of telling, you know no. So they just make up an excuse and hope that once you leave, great, you’ll pursue. I just don’t have to respond to your emails. I don’t have to answer your phone calls. I can just blow you off. I’ll just ghost the person. And so how many of you had that behavior as a part of your process to… How many of you ghost people when you don’t want to say no? And how many of you, when asked, why are you saying no, are going to be honest about that, rather than saying, you know, I just don’t have the money. Or I can’t find the money. Because a lot of times I think people recognize that if they say I don’t have the money or I don’t want to spend the money on this, that there is a response that could alter their thinking.
Allison Williams: [00:44:31] But their subconscious wants to keep them in the place that they are. And that, of course, subconscious processing and programing is a whole bigger topic or a whole different discussion. But I wanted to just kind of plant the seeds there, because with sales, oftentimes when we are not selling at the rate that we’d like to sell, it’s because we have someone on the other side who is clearly in need of our service. They clearly have a matter that our law firm can solve, but we are not staying and holding the frame of confidence that says this person has the ability to secure the money even if they don’t see it. And this person has the ability and has the need for our service, and it really is about how we can engage them in a way that gets them there. And that’s about serving them much more than about serving you, because you can always go get that same sale, that same dollar amount from someone else. Their problem is going to be their problem until someone helps them solve it.
Allison Williams: [00:45:26] Ok, and why would it not be you? All right. So this podcast has been dedicated to the topic of are you living up to your own standards? So if you saw even an inkling of yourself in any of those different categories, the category about money, the category about people, the category about marketing, about systems or about sales. If you have any of those behaviors and you are expecting something of other people, and that you are not living up to.
Allison Williams: [00:45:59] This is not about judging yourself. Right? Just being aware of it. And when you are aware of it, I want you to ask yourself, what is the result that I want from another person? And if I want a result from another person, am I being the person who lives, breathes, acts in a way that’s compatible with the behavior I want from others? In other words, am I the example that I want to demonstrate to a person who is going to now emulate that behavior back at me? Because one of the things that you’ll find is that when you raise your standards, others around you will follow course. All right. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Everyone have a wonderful day!
Allison Williams: [00:46:57] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guests and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement free Facebook group. There, you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours, and join the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firm and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms.
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00:24:16 Allison (32 Seconds)
So there’s a disconnect in the way that you’re talking about your business, because what you’re talking about does not inspire the person to know what is beneficial for them. And yet you’re expecting them to know that your company is beneficial for them when they call. You want the prospects to call, ready to buy and you haven’t done anything to get them there. All that you’ve done is stick up a website or be available for Google my business or had a relationship with someone else who says you’re great. But that still does not convince the other person of you.
00:28:15 Allison (50 Seconds)
Or perhaps you don’t believe in your law firm, in which case you should be asking yourself, what do I need to do in order to get to a place where I believe in my law firm and I can talk about it with that level of clarity and that level of confidence. OK, and for those of you that are in the category of not really feeling your law firm, like you think you’re a good lawyer, but what you have created in business does not reflect how good you are, what you do in the service. You are still being a service provider. You are still being an employee. You are not being a business owner. Right. And I want you to really think about that from the perspective of creation, because when we create things, if we’re not proud of what we created, there is going to be a level of cognitive dissonance between saying I created this thing over here and speaking about it to other people…