7 Things About Sales They Didn’t Teach You in Law School

 By Jessica Shpall Rosen | Greenwald Doherty

To build and maintain your law practice, you need to be effective at sales.

But they don’t teach sales in law school.

Here’s a list of the top seven things lawyers should know about sales, drawing on my experience selling employment law services to business owners, general counsel and executives.

  1. Sales Is a Mind Game 
    People think of “sell” as a four-letter word. But selling is really sharing your skills with the world.

    It’s about getting someone to buy into your idea and come along.

    Once you recognize this, you must find a way to get yourself in the right mindset before a pitch meeting.

    Keep a list of wins with you and read it before the meeting.

    Or perhaps create a mental persona who embodies you at your best: name her and invoke her as you go into the meeting. 

  2. Do Your Homework
    Research the business or department you'll be working with. Look up the people you'll be meeting on the company website or social media.
    More importantly, try to figure out what they believe and what they care about. Think through who are the users and who are the decisionmakers, and address their respective concerns.

    Sometimes a prospective client calls unexpectedly, and you don’t have time to prepare. 

    Don't panic!

    You can always move to tip number 3:

  3.  Ask Thoughtful Questions
    Such as:

    - What keeps you up at night? (better than "What are your pain points")

    - What keeps you busy these days? (better than asking personal questions)

    - Where is the business headed in the next six months?

    - Tell me how you got involved with/started this business.

  4. Make the Prospect Feel Good!
    It’s easy to harp on risk.  It’s everywhere!  And it sells!

    Lawyers who talk about creative solutions will resonate more deeply with clients. Get to know the client. Make them feel like you’re going to take excellent care of them.

    When you talk about your practice, focus on the reassurance you can provide. Focus on the big picture of how your services fit into their business goals.

    In the context of my employment law practice, whenever I’m talking to a new client about a potential or looming litigation, I emphasize the peace of mind my firm will bring: we want to help them to move past the litigation, so they can focus on their business. And, once they engage us, we keep our eyes on that goal.

  5. Be Ready with Examples
    By reviewing your wins (see number 1), you'll have examples at the ready of ways you've helped other clients.

    Also, be prepared to cite specific clients you’ve served in their industry, the number of clients you’ve worked with and how similar matters have played out,

  6. Ask a Catch-all Question
    Such as: Is there anything else you think I should know?
    You'd be surprised how many gems come from asking this.

  7.  Follow-up on the Sales Meeting
    It is ALL in the follow-up

    - Have a plan and cadence for follow-up

    - When you follow-up, find a way to show more value: for example, send a recent article you wrote or read.

    Keep following-up.

    One of my best engagements was sparked by the brief Happy New Year email I sent to touch-base, months after the sales process stalled.

BONUS: Create a Playbook and Build a Team

Sales is highly repetitive and can be a time suck, particularly for practicing lawyers. So, create a playbook with a timeline and delegate any aspects you don’t need to personally touch. 

Create customized email templates and follow-ups that are personalized whenever possible. By creating a playbook, you’ll be able to leverage your time to focus on high value activities. If you don’t delegate the work, schedule a time for follow-up activities each week.

With a little practice and thoughtfulness, you’ll find (and delight) those you seek to serve.*


Jessica Shpall Rosen untangles workplace legal issues for companies. She’s a partner at Greenwald Doherty LLP, an employment law boutique firm with an innovative and business-forward approach to legal services. Leveraging her success growing her practice during the pandemic, Jessica also facilitates cohort-based courses for professionals who want to learn virtual rainmaking with a community of peers. You can join the next 60-minute cohort, on September 14, here.  You can also reach her at [email protected].

*Special thanks to WOL member Ivy Slater and my law partner Joel Greenwald, who reinforced what I needed to know about sales (but didn’t learn in law school).

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