The sales funnel is dead, long live the value champions!


A rather interesting post was made to the Harvard Business Review website overnight (Australian time) highlighting why marketing personnel could no longer entirely rely on the sales funnel (“Marketing can no longer rely on the funnel“).

This article sums up well a view I have had for some time: law firms who are marketing along the traditional sales funnel line of (i) awareness, (ii) consideration, and (iii) purchase, are not only behind the 8-ball, but are in danger of going the same way as the dinosaurs unless they change their ways quickly.

As the HBR post points out, the buying process today is fundamentally different to what it was 20 or so years ago. In today’s age, not only do buyers go online to check pricing, with a click of a button they can source a word of mouth recommendation from someone they trust – be it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other social media outlet.

It has been a long-held view of mine that this not only applies to B2C transactions, but equally to B2B industries as well. And I would most certainly include law in that (which is probably in the P2P space these days, but I’ll leave that for another post). For those who doubt this, consider the growth of online comparison websites in the past few years (see “Full-blown legal comparison websites move closer – are you ready?” on the Legal Futures website).

So what are the alternatives?

Well, as the HBR post points out, one alternative that is growing in popularity is McKinsey‘s “Customer Decision Journey“. I have to say though that while I much prefer McKinsey’s Customer Decision Journey over the traditional sales funnel for the marketing of lawyers, to my mind they both make the process of marketing lawyers much more difficult that it needs to really be.

So here we go: if we accept the application of the Pareto principle as fact in law firms – and there seems to be little doubt this is the case – then, in all but in the very rarest of cases, the marketing of lawyers should be a fairly simple task:

“supply evidence that the lawyer is providing ongoing value to the client and its business.”

and in order to achieve this, your firm needs a ‘Value Champion’ .

In order to be your firm’s Value Champion, you need to be able to communicate the value proposition of your firm and its lawyers. Which means, at minimum, you need to be able to state:

  • the specific market your firm acts in
  • the specific offering your firm has
  • your firm’s overall expertise and the expertise of each of its lawyers
  • the manner in which you service your clients
  • how attentive to your clients’ needs your lawyers are
  • how reliable your lawyers are
  • how accessible your lawyers are

Additional skills the Value Champion is likely to need in today’s market would include a thorough understanding of how matters are costed (and by this I mean not just an understanding of what alternative fee arrangements are, but how did we get to the figure we are quoting you?!).

In short, your Value Champion needs to be able to get you past the “Why you?” threshold – i.e.: why should I hire you/your law firm? – and you need to be doing it while standing on the top of a burning building! 

And if they cannot do that, you’re probably best going back to the awareness – consideration – purchase approach.


About rws_01

I am a Business Development and Marketing professional with over 15 years’ experience working with leading professional services firms in Asia and Australia. All views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.
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