The Management Side of Sales Pursuits
By Adam Stock
In an increasingly competitive legal services market, where clients are less loyal to their law firms and law firms
are competing for business, there is a growing need for law firms to be systematic and disciplined in their
approach to business development. Marketing departments are increasingly retooling themselves with client
service, business development and sales functions. Attorneys, marketing and sales staff need to work
increasingly closely as a team taking on non-traditional roles to ensure continuity in pursuit of business from first
contact through the pitching and closing of business.
When we established our sales function at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, a 600- attorney law firm with 19 offices around
the world, we implemented our own intranet-based application to help us manage our sales pursuits. Like many
firms, we had previously tracked our pursuits informally through spreadsheets, e-mails and word processing
documents and we did not have a fully functioning CRM system. This article shares some of the lessons learned
from implementing and using our system.
Our goals were to: 1) provide a systematic tracking of our pursuits; 2) provide a seamless way for attorneys and
marketing and business development staff to work collaboratively on client pursuits; 3) leverage our best business
development practices across the firm; and 4) provide reporting functions so firm practice group and office
managers could understand the sales pipelines for their areas of responsibility. As we have implemented our
system, we continue to improve it as our processes evolve.
Some of the unique challenges of systematizing business development in law firms are: 1) law is a relationship
business that requires the lawyer to be the primary "sales" person rather than a professional salesperson; 2) that
there are rarely lawyers dedicated to business development — virtually all lawyers must both bill work as well as
develop business — which leads to many discontinuities in pursuits; and 3) there is not an established and
defined role for business professionals in the business development process. We sought to build systems that
addressed these challenges.
Unified view and openness. Our first goal was to establish a single place where staff and attorneys could look to
see the current status of a client pursuit (see figure 1, below). We had found that different offices and practices
had been approaching the same clients at the same time. By providing a single view to our pursuits, we have
eliminated this po-tentially embarrassing situation and have increased collaboration.
By sharing information more broadly and placing all of our pursuits on our intranet, we require a higher level of
trust in members of our firm. The benefits are that we work more collaboratively and we can more easily share
best practices. By being able to see what others are doing, attorneys are able to organize their efforts more
effectively and more quickly.
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