Can Lawyers Learn to Sell?

Can Lawyers Learn to Sell?

One of our large, global law firm clients has been tracking the results of our small-group consultative sales training of their attorneys. We’ve trained about 50 attorneys in eight cities. The study is controlled for gender and experience.

For the full 2013 year, the gap in billings for lawyers trained in our approach, called FOCIS®, and for comparable attorneys firm-wide not trained in FOCIS was 12 percent.

For originating new work with new clients the gap was even higher-20 percent. The firm attributes these significant differences directly to our consultative sales training and is considering opening up FOCIS® to more of its attorneys.

Key Point #1: We train attorneys in consultative selling, not marketing, and there is a difference. Marketing is important because it increases credibility and visibility, but it rarely brings in revenue directly. For our 25 client firms, building better consultative selling skills and a customized sales process for their attorneys enhances their marketing efforts-in other words, it improves the ROI on their marketing.

Key Point #2: Both selling and marketing are necessary for a complete business development process. Many firms have taken the first step by investing in marketing, but few have completed the process by investing in consultative sales training. Those that have are building a powerful competitive advantage.

Effective for individual attorneys and firms of any size, FOCIS® teaches the behaviors of the very best business developers-the 20 percent who consistently bring in 80 percent of the business.

So, lawyers can indeed learn to sell–and to do it well. Why don’t more attorneys go after more business more aggressively? That’s a story for another time.


Scott Pemberton is a senior consultant at Productive Strategies, Inc., a marketing and management consulting firm specializing in consultative sales training, lead generation and appointment setting, and marketing and marketing communications.  Scott can be reached at 847-446-0008 Extension 3 and at


Leave A Comment