Business development expert Steve Fretzin takes a practical approach to helping lawyers find and grow business. He and host Christopher Anderson discuss Fretzin’s three-part plan for those looking to bring in business.
They also discuss how business development, sales, and marketing interconnect.
Anderson notes that business development isn’t just the realm of law firm owners. He and Fretzin discuss the lateral hiring market and how building a book of business can and should start early, even as a new lawyer is learning the ropes of practice.
Fretzin breaks down a business plan into three parts: covering goals, strategies, and tactics that help lawyers understand what they need to do every day.
Steve Fretzin is an expert in business development for lawyers and is president of Fretzin Inc.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Scorpion, Lawclerk, Alert Communications and LawYaw.
The Un-Billable Hour
Business Development Planning and Practicing
Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable.
Intro: Welcome to this edition of the unbillable hour. The law practice advisory podcast. This is where you’ll get the information you need from expert guest and host, Christopher Anderson. Here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher Anderson: Welcome to The Unbillable Hour. I am your host, Christopher Anderson.
Today’s episode is about business development. Now usually, I know I’ll say this, a show like this would be about marketing, more about sales, or something of that nature, maybe acquisition. But today, we’re going to learn about specifically, the term business development, and how it relates to those two things: marketing, sales or three things, acquisition.
The title of today’s show is, Business Development: Planning and Practicing. And my guest, we’re really fortunate today to have Steve Fretzin. He’s the owner of Fretzin Inc. It’s a company that helps attorneys specifically, to improve their business development game. But before we get started with Steve, it is time to do a little business of our own. I want to say thank you to the sponsors that make this show possible.
Alert communications. If any law firm is looking for call intake or retainer services available 24/7, 365, just call (866) 827-5568.
Scorpion is the leading provider of marketing solutions for the legal industry. With nearly 20 years of experience serving attorneys, Scorpion can help you grow your practice. Learn more at scorpionlegal.co.
Law Clerk where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Visit lawclerk.legal to learn how to increase your productivity and your profits by working with talented freelance lawyers. LAWYAW provides end-to-end document automation for solo, small, and mid-sized practices. Save time and avoid mistakes with documents that you draft over and over again. Learn more at lawyaw.com and that’s L-A-W-Y-A-W dot com.
Christopher Anderson:°And again, today’s episode of The Un-Billable Hour is Business Development: Planning and Practicing. And I am super pleased to introduce my guest Steve Fretzin. Steve is focused and passionate about helping attorneys to master the art of business development to achieve their business goals, and the peace of mind that comes with developing a successful law practice with his company, Fretzin Inc. So, Steve welcome to the show.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Christopher Anderson:°Oh, it is absolutely my pleasure. It’s great to have you on. So, as a sort of a tradition with The Unbillable Hour, my intros are terrible, and inadequate, so I’d like to ask you to kind of fill in the blanks. What’s your background that brought you to be helping attorneys with business development? And by the way, don’t bury the lead. We’re going to talk about what is business development in a second. But just what’s your background that led to this?
Steve Fretzin:°Sure. Sure, so my background has been in sales since I was 16 years old selling shoes at a store called Kinney’s.
Christopher Anderson:°Oh, I remember. Yeah.
Steve Fretzin:°Do you remember Kinney’s? If you’re under 35, you have no idea what that is. But for us old folks, right? And I always enjoyed working with people and so, I really learned and improved a lot of sales techniques and just was always successful in sales, and it led me to start my own consultancy coaching business in 2004 mainly working with entrepreneurs. So, I can tell you, I’m not an attorney nor did I think that I would ever work with attorneys. It was never a blip on my screen.
Christopher Anderson:°All right. So, that always leads me to the question, since the attorneys in the United States are a humongous market of only 1.2 million people, more than half of which are not in private practice, and less than half of them actually, in any role that would require business development, that’s a small market. Why did you choose to help attorneys with this?
Steve Fretzin:°Well, wait a second. Now that you mentioned all that, I’m having second thoughts. So, here’s what happened. The recession hit in 2008.
Steve Fretzin:°And I started working with some attorneys, and they absolutely fell in love with what I was teaching and what I call it is, sales-free selling, okay? And it’s all the things that I learned in sales that I hated, which was pitching, convincing, you know, trying to push a square peg in a round hole, and just really disliked it. So, I came up with processes, and systems that were non-salesy. It was all about relationships and being very consultative and empathizing with people, and it just really gelled well with the lawyers I was working with, and then, one turned into two, and then a law firm, and then another, and within even a short amount of time, a few years, it was about 80 percent of my total business was working with attorneys in law firms, and I was like, “Oh, my God, this is great.” You know, this is great. These are people that really appreciate what I’m teaching and why it works, and let’s keep it going.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. I love what you just said because I mean, as part of you know, I talk all around the country too, and on this show, we’ve had a lot of guests and when I work with attorneys like, that’s the thing is, what you just said about you know, salesy. I hate that word because it shouldn’t mean what people think it means, and what I love about what you said is, you said, “It’s not about convincing.” Because sales really aren’t about convincing. Done wrong it is, but it’s about educating, and about helping people to know whether they should do business with you.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. I mean, from my perspective, it’s all about two individuals. You know, talking having a conversation, and trying to understand if there’s a good fit to solve a problem together.
Steve Fretzin:°And if that’s the buyer and the lawyer and working through that, and again, a non-salesy way, and a way that makes everybody just comfortable, and you come to a conclusion, “Is this a good fit?” Yes, let’s move forward, and if it’s not, and we understand why it’s not a fit, then be okay with that too,
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. What I would say is like, if it is sales conversation, you learn it’s not a good fit, and the person ends up not engaging your firm. It should be such a conversation that they leave it willing to recommend your firm to others because of the way it went.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. You’re looking for long-term relationships and you’re looking for you know, referrals, right, at the end of the day. So, you know, you need to start off on the right foot, and if you don’t have a good process or a good methodology, you know, you’re just kind of out there winging it, or doing what you think is right, it might not be you know, doing as well as you think.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, indeed. All right. So, I led the top of the show saying, we’re going to talk about business development, and on your you know, your website and the stuff that you’ve written, I’ve read a lot of stuff, and you talk about really that what you do is, you help lawyers with business development. But I got to tell you, I think we really need to start the show here is, you know, I go into a lot of law firms, and I hear a lot of lawyers use those words business development, and there are at least three or four different definitions that people mean when they say it. Some people think it just means client development like, we’re getting new clients and client acquisition. Some people think it means actually partnerships, and strategic joint ventures, and that kind of stuff. When we’re talking about business development, you and I, and when you’re talking to your clients about business development, what do you mean? What does that term really mean?
Steve Fretzin:°Well, so there’s and what it means to me, and to my clients, and it’s and then there’s are the other five or six definitions that you mentioned. But I would encompass it into your personal efforts to find you know, and grow, find you know lock up, and continue to grow the business. So, whereas, marketing might be putting out messages, and marketing might be about the branding element of it, and I touch on those things because I think they’re all connected.
Steve Fretzin:°But it’s how do we develop a plan to go in and develop business and that could be everything from reaching out like attending networking events, or conferences, to meeting with prospective clients, and how you run that meeting, to how you cross-market with an existing client to identify more opportunities, or obtain introductions from an existing client to grow that out. They’re all encompassed under business development in sort of my definition.
Christopher Anderson:°Okay. So, would you say, just sorry so we can kind of get real clarity on this, would you say that marketing is a subset of business development, or is it like a Venn diagram where, there’s some overlap, but some separation?
Steve Fretzin:°I think it’s that. I think there’s some, like for example, I will work with my clients on improving their LinkedIn profile,
Steve Fretzin:°or how to post things. Well, that’s you know, marketing, but it is sometimes their efforts that do that, or them connecting with people on LinkedIn that’s more business development, and marketing is going to be more about the messaging. So, for example, I send out a newsletter, or I’m you know, publishing on social media, or I have a podcast. Those are more marketing channels that help reinforce the business development efforts that I’m undertaking.
Christopher Anderson:°Cool. Okay, so you know, some attorneys who you work with I’m sure have been in business a long time, some less. You know, when an attorney let’s say, we’re talking to somebody who’s listening right now has either decided to hang out a shingle as a young attorney, or has is leaving a larger firm, or something else, but as they’re getting started in a law firm business. When should an attorney start considering business development as an essential part of running their practice?
Steve Fretzin:°Well, we can go back to law school, and I could make a comment like you know, it’s important to develop relationships, and begin networking because the person sitting to your left to your right might be a general counsel, a referral source, something in the future, and so, you may want to start then. But if we’re talking about really diving into a full-blown business development effort, most of the attorneys that I talk to start somewhere in their third year, fourth year because I think the first two, or three years, it’s really about being a great lawyer learning, you know, the business learning, the practice, the specialty, and I don’t think you should ignore business development, but as far as a full-blown effort to grow a book of business, to become a partner, or to make money in a solo practice, so that you can pay for your family to live, those are the kinds of things that need to happen you know, fairly soon.
Christopher Anderson:°Right, and so, that actually you know, it’s funny I asked the question from the perspective of hanging out a shingle, but you very correctly brought me back to the fact that this isn’t just for law firm owners. This is something that associates coming up through a firm or you know, partners in a small firm, or an associate in a smaller firm, this is something for lawyers in every size practice to need to get their hands on to, and their mind around.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. I think it’s come up in the last 15 years as probably the second most important thing that a lawyer should be thinking about, and doing next to being a great lawyer because at the end of the day, if something goes down where your firm gets acquired or a recession hits, or something, if you don’t have your own book a business, if you don’t have your own clients, you’re susceptible to furloughs, you’re susceptible to being fired, or let go. And again, you know, when you have your own book of business, your own clients that you’ve developed, well that gives you the freedom, you know, to have a seat at the table, to take your book and be portable, it’s all those options exist. And so, it’s something that more attorneys need to think about now more than ever.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, and you know, you mentioned earlier in the show that you’re not a lawyer yourself, and so, I’ll just speak, I thought you probably know this, but you know, and I’ll admit, it’s been a little year since I’ve been in laws school, but the general sense in law school was sort of work hard, do great work for your clients, and the hits, or acquisition of new business will take care of itself. Well, it’s sort of, what I call the field of dreams theory of marketing. You know, if you build it, they will come. What have you seen change over the past decade or so, since you know, since the great recession, since you really got started getting involved with lawyers, how has how has the need for business development changed over that time?
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah I think it’s become really necessary because we’re in a time of information, we’re in a time of competition. There are other attorneys that are doing a lot of marketing, and a lot of business development, and if you’re either a part of that, and working aggressively, and hard to secure your future, or you’re left behind. And you know, every recruiter that I talk to when we speak about you know, how do we move an attorney from one place to another, it always comes down to and that’s a great thing. What’s their book of business? And if the book of business doesn’t exist, very difficult to place.
Steve Fretzin:°Unless again, there just happens to be some perfect opening at the perfect time which doesn’t always happen, but there’s been a definite shift in the last 10 or 15 years which again, is why I think I’m in this industry. I think if this had hit me 20, 30 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have decided to move into this area because it just wasn’t as Fretzin: ° necessary as it is today.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. Well, that makes that makes perfect sense. So, I am talking with Steve Fretzin. He’s the owner of Fretzin Inc. and in that company, and in his career, he helps lawyers get better at business development. We’re going to talk more about that here in a minute. When we come back from the break, we’ll do launch right into Steve, how to actually build a business development plan because we’ve been talking about the effort, nut you mentioned a couple times that one needs to have a plan. I want to dive into that after this word from our sponsors.
As the largest legal only call center in the U.S., Alert Communications helps law firms, and legal marketing agencies with new client intake. Alert captures and responds to all leads 24/7, 365 as an extension of your firm in both English and Spanish. Alert uses proven intake methods, customizing responses as needed, which earns the trust of clients and improves client retention. To find out how Alert can help your law office, call (866) 827-5568, or visit alertcommunications.com/ltn.
No one cites routine drafting as the reason they chose to become a lawyer, but that’s where a lot of time goes for solo practitioners and small firms. LAWYAW can help you transform your existing Word documents into reusable templates with no coding required. Save time and avoid errors with intuitive features like conditional logic, use a tool that empowers your experience and expertise. Learn more at lawyaw.com and that’s L-A-W-Y-A-W dot com.
Christopher Anderson:°And we’re back with Steve Fretzin. He’s the owner of Fretzin Inc. and he helps lawyers master business development skills, and now we’re to the point where I want to ask you because you mentioned it a couple of times, you said the word, plan and that really perked my ears up because one of the things I work with lawyers a lot about is building a business plan, and failure to plan is a plan to fail et cetera. So, when you when you think about a plan for business development, what do you counsel people to do? I mean, how do you get started on writing a plan?
Steve Fretzin:°Well, I think the first thing that we need to do is, really look at what are the strengths and weaknesses of that attorney, their firm, and then what kind of opportunities, and threats exist in the marketplace. So, most marketing people know of a SWOT Analysis.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. Yeah.
Steve Fretzin:°And that’s a very basic thing to do sort of at the beginning. But if we want to get into the blocking, and tackling of writing a plan, and what I try to tell people is, it doesn’t have to be a 50-page MBA plan. You know, you’re an individual lawyer, you want to go out and get business, and you want to do it in the least amount of time with the most amount of results. So, how do we do that? So, I break it into three parts, and it’s a lot like a story in the sense, that we start with sort of a theme, and then we break it down into smaller, and smaller chunks.
Steve Fretzin:°And eventually what happens is, it’s like a three- or four-page document that tells you, what to do every day, how to use other than billing hours, how do you spend your unbillable hours, right? There you go.
Christopher Anderson:°There’s the show. Yeah!
Steve Fretzin:°That’s the show, right? So, the first thing I would suggest is, what’s the objective? What as an attorney are you trying to accomplish in the next year, okay? And someone might say, “I want to go from originating 500,000 to originating two million.” And I’d say, “Well, wait a second.” All right, you know, unless you’ve got you know, a bunch of things lined up, we might have to look at bringing that number down to a reasonable level. So, can we get that from 500 to 750? Can we get that from 500 to a million? And based on all the information that individual might be sharing with me, we can decide you know where that should be.
Christopher Anderson:°Sure. So, that starts with the goal. I guess is what you’re saying.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah, the goal and the objective. Yeah.
Christopher Anderson:°And we’re going to loop from here to there.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be dollars. Some people push back and they go, “Well, wait a second. It’s not dollars.” I need this number of matters, or I need three clients, or whatever. And so, I don’t think it really matters how you want to rearrange the you know, the tools in the toolbox. I think you just want to come up with something that’s high, but manageable, high but achievable.
Christopher Anderson:°Sure. Okay, so first thing’s a goal. What’s the next thing?
Steve Fretzin:°The next thing and again this is so simple. It’s what are the difference, right? The no brain surgery here unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s what are the strategies that make the most sense for you to work towards? So, for example, a strategy might leverage my past and existing clients to obtain additional business, and quality introductions. So, the things that we’re looking for is, what’s the low hanging fruit? What’s the things that are maybe right in front of you that if you had a good angle, or if you had a way toto to go in, and develop that business, that it would be easier than for example, running around the country trying to attend conferences, or joining a hundred groups to try to meet new people, right? So, they’re things that are just easier than others, and we want to always focus on those.
Christopher Anderson:°Easier, and I mean, I think kind of inherent in what you just said easier, and less costly, both in time and money.
Steve Fretzin:°Absolutely. Absolutely. So, I’ll give you an example. I had a client who was and he’s an estate planner, and he does about a million dollars in that type of work, and he’s at a full-service firm, and we identified very quickly that he is not really cross-marketing all of his business clients into the firm, and meanwhile, he’s running around attending a bunch of networking groups, and events and I said, “Look, this has to stop. You running around, and meeting, you know strangers, and meeting you know, strategic partners that’s fine, but that’s not where the business is for you. If you had a good approach to go, and sit down with your clients, ask a number of questions and identify that in fact, they do need litigation, they do need banking help, they do need IP, and you have all of that. Then you can introduce your partners in, and sure enough, you’re going to get some origination on some work. By the way, you don’t even have to do.
Christopher Anderson:°Right. Right.
Steve Fretzin:°And you’re going to grow your book that way. So, we really want to focus on the strategies that we agree on that, it’s the lowest hanging fruit, or the easiest path to getting that business brought in, and those are going in, and don’t choose a hundred, or ten, pick two or three that really makes sense.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, and I love what you said about that because what I find working with folks too is like, a lot of them say, “Well, part of my marketing plan, or part of my business development plan is networking.” And I say, “No, no, no, that’s net socializing. That’s net drinking.” You know, let’s be honest, you can go to those things for fun, and sometimes they may be productive, but yeah, if you’re not doing the easy stuff first, the high ROI stuff first, then, you just have to admit what it is you’re doing at those functions.
Steve Fretzin:°Right. Right, and once you once you’ve established those efficient, effective means of growing your book of business, the last piece of this, and this is the one that’s a little more challenging are the tactics.
Steve Fretzin:°The tactical actionable things that you’re going to do to achieve the strategy, and that’s where the story comes in, and the easiest way to explain this to lawyers is, every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Steve Fretzin:°And if you miss one of those three things, and we all know this when we’re watching a movie, and our spouse comes in and says, “Oh, what’s going on here? What’s going on there?” And you know, it’s no good. You have to see the beginning to know what the middle is, or the middle to see what the end is. And so, when we’re writing tactics, I usually try to help them write tactics around planning, execution, and follow through. And so, a planning step might be creating a list of those clients, and rating them A, B, or C, and having a deadline associated with it. An execution step might be all right now, you’re actually emailing them, and getting meetings set up and you’ve already prepared listed questions, and follow-through might be, “Oh, yeah, they had suggested they were going to refer you to a friend of theirs that’s a high-level GC at a big corporation, but they haven’t followed through yet,” how do you stay on top of that to make sure that quality introduction actually happens? And so, you want to have a more detailed explanation on the tactics, and again, that might just be a you know, a page of bullet points.
Steve Fretzin:°And that’s the simplest version of how to write a plan that lawyers don’t push back on because anything more in depth than that, they’re not real thrilled about you know, spending hours and hours and hours doing this. If they can knock it out in an hour to two hours, they seem pretty pleased.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, and let me, and I just want to make sure I’ve got clarity on this. So, the first part was setting a goal, where do we want to go?
Christopher Anderson:°And then the second part sounded a lot like basically, what am I going to try to get there? What are the three, or four tactics that I’m going to use to get to that goal, and then break those down as you just said into the list, and deadlines, execution and follow-through.
Steve Fretzin:°Yep, that’s it.
Christopher Anderson:°Okay, and then so, is the third part of the plan the follow-through?
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. No, well the third part was the tactics. So, we had the objective, or goals, the strategies and the tactics, I kind of melded them together.
Christopher Anderson:°Got it.
Steve Fretzin:°That’s yeah, that’s really the tactics is where the rubber meets the road. That’s where a lawyer can look down at the piece of paper, and know exactly what he, or she needs to do today, tomorrow, this week, scheduling time, having lists in front of you, all the things that that need to happen to ensure that it moves forward versus it just being shelved, you know in a file cabinet and never looked at again.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. So, I mean, I’ve heard you say that business development really is, you have this plan, you build this plan, that’s great. So, as you said, “You know what to do.” Like you come in, you’ve got this thing to look at, and say, “Okay, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” But I’ve also heard you described it as a process” and I think that invites the comparison to a lack of process. So, what have you seen about effective process, and lack of process that people can learn from other people’s mistakes? You know, what stories can you talk about that?
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. I mean, it’s rampant. I mean, 90 percent of the attorneys that I come in contact with don’t have any real process that they’re following to secure business. They’re going in, they’re providing free consulting, they’re giving away their rate structure, they’re answering every question xxx that the buyer has.
Steve Fretzin:°And what consider that is, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.
Christopher Anderson:°It’s essentially, going into see a doctor, my arm is hurting, the doctor takes one look at me and says, “Well, we’ll just cut it off.” “I’m not really thrilled with that prescription, doc.” You know, so I think what I’m suggesting is that, I have a process, and this is a process that other people might be using in bits, and pieces. But it essentially, walks a buyer through a buying decision to see if there’s a fit. and along the way, builds a stronger relationship, a stronger connectivity, you’re going to understand that client at a level that you wouldn’t have before if you just went in, guns blazing with your solutions. And what happens is, it’s a lot like a therapist, and a patient. And if I go to see a therapist, and the therapist asks me a lot of questions, and I open up, and you know get you know get weepy. or whatever, I don’t think I’m going to want to see another therapist the next week. I think now I’m attached to this therapist because that I feel understood. And that’s really what buyers and clients want understanding.
Christopher Anderson:°I mean it just sounds like you described it as listening being a really, really, important part of this business development process.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah. It’s critical, and I don’t think people do enough justice to listening, and the importance of it in not only in in a business development scenario, but in a life scenario. You know, if I don’t listen to my wife, and I just talk over her, we’re not going to be happily married for you know, very long.
Steve Fretzin:°So, these are life skills that I don’t think are emphasized in law school. They’re not emphasized at the law firm level in most cases, and I think it’s a skill that needs to be honed. So, I role play with my clients just as an example, and we walk through these steps, and if they’re just you know falling into the trap of answering questions, and providing me free consulting, and I trap them. I’m pretty advanced, right? I’ve done this, and it’s not my first rodeo, and we stop, and we go, “Look, there’s a tipping point here, where you could have asked another question, you could have done a better job listening, you could have been empathetic.” We need to do this again. We need to rework this because you’re just trying to sell and solve and that’s not really what I’m trying to teach you.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, and in fact it sounds like, and you mean to me, what it sounds like is, you’re kind of saying that the lawyers have a you know, when they come to you before they go through the training, they seem to have a tendency to want to show off, like you know, “Let me show you what I know about how to solve a problem like yours.” Rather than listening to the depth of the problem.
Steve Fretzin:°And I think it’s not necessarily you know, anyone’s fault. I think it’s just the way that that you know, we haven’t we haven’t had any proper training. or coaching on this, and we’re all kind of built that way. You know, one-upmanship, and you’re at a dinner party, and you want to get your two cents in. I mean, we all feel that, but I think when you’re when you’re dealing with a prospective client, someone who’s going to be you know, possibly your client for the rest of your career if you play your cards right, you need to take a different approach, and if you aren’t either trained or coached for that, it’s tough, it’s tough to change those kinds of habits.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. So, again, you are like amazing. You’re providing me with the segues. We’re going to talk about habits. I want to talk about habits because we all know the one way to make something a habit is practice. And so, when we come back, I want to talk about how, like I’m pretty sure that this skillset for business development isn’t one and done. It’s something that we need to practice to make a habit, and we’ll talk about that right after we listen to our sponsors.
Now more than ever an effective marketing strategy is one of the most important things for your firm, Scorpion can help. With nearly 20 years of experience serving the legal industry, Scorpion has proven methods to help you get the high value cases you deserve. Join thousands of attorneys across the country who have turned to Scorpion for effective marketing, and technology solutions, for a better way to grow your practice, visit scorpionlegal.co.
Law Clerk where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Whether you need a research memo, or a complicated appellate brief, our network of freelance lawyers has every level of experience and expertise. The sign up is free, and there are no monthly fees. Only pay the flat fee price you set. Use rebate code: unbillable to get a $100 Amazon gift card when you complete your next project. Learn more at lawclerk.legal
Christopher Anderson:°All right we are back with Steve Fretzin who’s helping attorneys across the country up their business development game. And so, I wanted to talk to you Steve now about performance improvement. Once we learn about these things like I don’t think anybody after listening this show is going to be like, “Oh, I’ve seen the light now. I’m going to be perfect at business development.” How do we improve our skills as lawyers at this business development skillset?
Steve Fretzin:°Sure. So, the simplest thing I can advise is, to take some moments after you leave a networking one-on-one meeting, after you leave a meeting with a prospective client, and really debrief what just happened. What did you like about what happened, what did you not like about what happened, what question really hit home, and could you have taken that further or not? And it’s obviously harder to do that on your own than with a coach or with someone that sort of has in-depth you know, knowledge of this. But even on your own, you can always come up with something that you can improve if you just take a moment to do that. and I think the big switch for me is that, I always learn growing up that practice makes perfect.
Steve Fretzin:°Practice makes perfect, right? And that’s the key, and what I found is that that’s not true, and before anybody yells at me or pushes back, it was Lombardi, and I apologize to the non-sports people, but it relates so well. It’s not about practice making perfect, its perfect practice makes perfect.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, practicing something the wrong way is not going to help you very much.
Steve Fretzin:°But what I’m seeing are people going from meeting to meeting to meeting for years, and years and years and never reflecting back on if it’s working, it’s not working it, can be improved, that could be a shoddy infomercial, right? Where you go through a hundred features, and benefits that no one wants to hear.
Steve Fretzin:°Or it could be something where you’re pitching too soon, convincing someone of how great you are in your firm is, when you should have been asking questions, and been a better listener, and so, not identifying those things can be absolutely detrimental to growth, improvement, and of course, building a book, which is, the ultimate goal.
Christopher Anderson:°So obviously this is something you help people with, but what else can folks do? Are there are there resources out there that they can read, they can watch to start working on their business development skills?
Steve Fretzin:°Yes. So, much to absorb. I mean I’ve got three books, you know, personally I write an article for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin every month, podcasts, there’s videos, there’s so much information not just on business development, but legal business development.
Steve Fretzin:°That if you wanted to find that information, it exists on the web you just have to type in some magic words, and you’re going to be inundated with content that’s all super useful, and helpful. And so, for some people they’re going to need the accountability, and the and the structure of having a, advisor or coach. In other situations, if you’re a self-starter, or you feel like you can get enough out of tools online, or by going to Amazon, and purchasing some books, and things like that to give yourself a shot in the arm, it’s all available.
Christopher Anderson:°It’s a lot to wade through too though. I mean, it’s like my Facebook feed for instance, that’s all I get, that’s all I get is, pitches, pitches, pitches, on one or another aspect of this, not all of which are really valid.
Steve Fretzin:°Well, let me let me just add something, that if you have a friend, if someone is out there listening that has a friend, that has been super successful in business development, you need to talk with that friend because that friend might say, “Oh, you know, I hired this coach, or I have this book, or I have this or I always listen to this podcast, or whatever the case might be, talk with the successful lawyers that have done it, right? They’re the lawyer everyone’s talking about, and your friend with that person, or could become that you know, friend. So, that’s another way to get on the right track
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, absolutely, and that makes a lot of sense. Let me ask you because I didn’t really, I noted this at the beginning of the show, and I didn’t ask then, but I want to ask now. You mentioned one thing, it’s like, after you’ve done the work you know, what you need to be doing during your unbillable hour, and we laughed about it being the name of the show. But you know, I can almost feel people listening to the show right now thinking to themselves, “Yeah, sounds great, but I am balls to the wall, billing, billing, billing, billing.” I don’t have time for this, and I think, you know you and I both know that, that’s not true, but people have a hard time managing their time. So, do you have any recommendations for how people can work this practice, practice, practice, and perfect practice of getting better at business development into their very, very, busy schedule?
Steve Fretzin:°Sure, and listen, I’m not on my on my own with this. I’m taking in content from the smartest people in certain areas, and one of the individuals that changed my life, and I love to give this individual credit is a gentleman named David°Allen who wrote a book called, “Getting Things Done.” It’s got to be 15, 20 years old at this point, but I’m one of these people that is very naturally very disorganized. I mean, I had stacks of business cards, stacks of proposals mixed in with a brochure to Tahiti. I mean there was nothing that was organized with the way that I was running my business. I read the book, did as much as I could to try to not be a robot, but also get all of the great takeaways, and the way that he breaks it down it just, it all made sense, and so, I’m able to better delegate, I’m able to better make decisions about what I should be spending time in and not. And I think that that’s one thing that that’s one thing that you could do right away as a tool to get your time managed. If you can be a better manager of time, you’re going to be a better business developer because you’ll have time to actually do it, where now, you’re looking at your billable hours saying, “No way, Jose. I got to see my family at some point.”
Christopher Anderson:°Right. Right, and then, you got to carve the time, but you got a minute. I love that book as well. I think that’s a fantastic recommendation.
Steve Fretzin:°Yeah, and I’ll give you one more, and this I’ve done, yeah, I’ve done this with a ton of clients and it’s been just super eye-opening is, I actually work with my clients to track their day. In some cases, track their week, but I find that, if most people are having a similar day, and they actually track it in 15-minute increments, but you’re not tracking billable hours, you’re tracking all of the different activities, or actions that you’re taking. I uncovered things like, a lawyer who doing two hours of copying documents a day.
Christopher Anderson:°Oh, my gosh.
Steve Fretzin:°Okay? Why, didn’t want to teach the paralegals, didn’t want to just thought, I’ll just do this myself, I don’t want to bother anybody. Terrible, right? So, if you do the math on that, it actually works out to an extra week a month, that that individual gets back because he delegated that simple chore of making copies.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. That’s a firing offense in my firms.
Steve Fretzin:°I mean, but these are the kinds of things that I identify all the time.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah. Yeah.
Steve Fretzin:°Another one that that was crazy was an individual was not getting stuff done during the day, he’s going to bed at one o’clock in the morning, so he needs his eight hours, so he’s getting up at nine, he’s going to temple, and then after temple, he’s doing his day. Well, then yeah.
Christopher Anderson:°So, he’s getting started at 11.
Steve Fretzin:°You need to go to bed at 10.
Steve Fretzin:°And you’re still going to get your eight hours, now you can get up earlier go to temple, and now you’ve got an extra again, two hours a day that you’re going to be able to put into your business development, or billable hours and it’s just game changing. But sometimes, we just don’t see what we’re in. We can’t see through the tunnel of our you know, the vision of four eyes looking out, and that’s why you know, we need to identify these things.
Christopher Anderson:°That’s great, a great recommendation. And so, as we come close to wrapping and just have here one key takeaway that you’d love to give our listeners as to a way to get started to becoming better business developers.
Steve Fretzin:°I think it’s going to come back to the three Ps, that I already mentioned which is, you know, you need to have a plan, you need to start looking at identifying processes, that are better than what you’re currently doing, and winging it is not a process, right? That’s the opposite, right?
Steve Fretzin:°And then the last P obviously, performance improvement, you might be working on improving your process through reading a book, or working with a coach, or whatever, but at the end of the day, you know, you’re not going to be, “I have a process for playing golf” it doesn’t mean I’m a scratch golfer, right? So, we need to consider the performance improvement piece, and continue to improve our process until we feel like we really have it down, we’re seeing the results, we’re seeing, the time you know, get weighing down because we’re becoming more efficient.
Christopher Anderson:°Yeah, that makes total sense, and unfortunately, that also wraps up this edition of The Unbillable Hour. Thank you all for listening. Our guest today has been Steve Fretzin. He’s the founder and owner of Fretzin Inc, and he helps attorneys improve their performance in business development get really good at it. Steve, before we let you go, if people are intrigued by this, they want to learn more about how coaching fits in, and how to contact you on that. What’s a good way to reach you, or your company?
Steve Fretzin:°Absolutely. So, the best way is to go to my website it’s Fretzin.com. You can always just type my name in on Google. Also, you can reach me directly by phone at (847) 602-6911.
Christopher Anderson:°Fantastic, Steve. Thanks so much for being on the show.
Steve Fretzin:°Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Steve Fretzin:°My pleasure, and of course, this is Christopher Anderson, and I look forward to seeing you next month with another great guest, as we learn more about topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you.
Remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll speak again soon.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always consult a lawyer. Thanks for listening to The Unbillable Hour, the law practice advisory podcast. Join us again for the next edition, right here at Legal Talk Network.