Selling is hard, but so is buying. Buyers, like sellers, spend lots of time attending, vetting and managing sales cycles. Both sides kiss a lot of frogs before finding their Prince or Princess Charming buyer / vendor partner. Selling to legal is no different.
One of the best things to do is know your customer. You should do this:
- Before you identify a prospect
- After you’ve identified and approached a prospect
- Throughout the relationship (as individuals and their roles in a buying organisation may change over time, or become more or less relevant as you navigate the buyer’s sales cycle)
But first, let’s start at the beginning: what does the sales cycle for legaltech look like? Clue: it’s nothing special.
The (legaltech) sales cycle
Although the law is often regarded as “special”, the reality is that selling to legal organisations is no different. The same phases, perils and pitfalls apply. To keep this guide in context, the typical sales cycle when applied to legal looks something like this:
Use this to guide and build your process. Identify where in the sales cycle you are with a prospect and where you wish to be and how you get there. In a separate article, we will lift the lid on the buyer side processes to provide context as to why legal software sales (or any enterprise software sale) are typically slow.
Before you sell me, get to know me
We’re not all the same
Legal teams are not all the same. Yes, they all provide legal products and services to clients, whether internal and / or external, but this does not mean we have the same needs, wants, pressures and budgets.
The worst thing you can do is churn out a generic pitch, demo or presentation aimed at “legal stuff”. Instead, be targeted with your demo (learn how here) and avoid other common mistakes such as these.
Making the effort to understand the different types of legal teams and legal buyers and which your client is will go a long way to circumnavigating such issues.
Demonstrating knowledge of a legal buyer beyond them being “legal” goes a long way. It evidences a commitment to forging a partnership, rather than a quick buck.
And no, simply doing control + replace for our name and logo across a powerpoint slide deck doesn’t cut the mustard!
Size and Shape Matters
Whether a law firm or in-house team, try to find out the size of the team. Is it local, regional or global? How many lawyers are there? In which jurisdictions (i.e. countries) do they work? Where are their clients based? With which other teams do they interface, how, how often and in what ways?
This matters because it often informs many things about the product-market fit, e.g.
- Can your product be used in x, y, z languages?
- Security concerns, e.g. where is your data centre?
- The level of support expected, e.g. 24/7, multiple timezones etc?
- The importance of collaboration features
- The systems with which to integrate
- The number of users to support
and so on…
Types of legal teams
Legal teams have many flavours. The below table illustrates the major types (transactional, contentious, advisory, operational, support and knowledge):
To a greater or lesser extent, these major types often overlap and can be further subdivided. Note also that both law firms and in-house legal teams can comprise one, some or all of these types of teams.
Where does your client fit? This won’t always be easy. Legal teams often organise themselves differently even if the labels they choose for their teams and responsibilities sound similar.
The solution isn’t rocket science. Google them, call them, take them for coffee and ask some basic questions to find out. Most buyers appreciate the effort to screen whether what you’re offering is a match for what they need.
Types of legal buyers
A common challenge for sellers is identifying who holds the cheque book. Unfortunately, legal buyer job titles are massively inconsistent.
At some organisations person X with title A might have all the buying power. At another organisation (even a direct competitor to the first) person Y with title A might have zero buying power.
That said, selling to legal will be a sale to a combination of stakeholders who need to weigh in and help decide whether it’s a buy or no buy. These individuals may include:
- Partners and Associates (law firms only)
- Practice / team heads
- Technology and Innovation teams
- Knowledge management teams
- Legal operations teams
- Compliance (sometimes, depending on the overlap with your product and these teams needs)
Be sure to understand not only the type of team, but also to which types of individuals you are selling and whether your product matches their persona and identified need. Selling to legal is about being targeted.
To help, we will follow-up this article with some user personas for the above types of individuals. This will help you understand to whom your selling and if they are the right fit.
The Holy Trinity
Whichever of the above individuals you’re targetting, you ideally want to find one or more persons that are authoritative in these three domains:
If you are very lucky, this will be a single person. More often, it’s 2 – 3 or more people. Finding this person or persons will make selling to legal organisations significantly easier.
Ensure as early as possible in the sales cycle you’ve identified the authoritative individual for each of (1) to (3).
Doing so will make the process quicker for everyone. You’ll have much better oversight of the dependencies and gating items between initial contact and signed software license, e.g. procurement, budgets, security etc.
Your job is to help the buyer join the dots regarding the product-market fit, but also the buyer to seller cycle fit. Some buyers will do this for you, but not always. Get ahead of this blocker – if you don’t know who these individuals are, ask and be upfront.
Legal buyers want partners not peddlers. Remember:
- Get to know the buyer: what type of organisation are they? What type of legal team are they? Who are the key stakeholders? Have you identified them all, if not, how can you find them and who can direct you to them?
- Of the individuals you encounter, ask questions and qualify if they are in general the type of organisation for which your products and services are a fit and, if so, whether they are the correct person to whom you should sell?
- If the answer to the two questions in (2) are “no”, keep searching before moving through to the next stage of the sales cycle. Don’t be afraid to ask your prospect to connect you with the correct person within their organisation, or perhaps another organisation if their organisation is not a fit.