Among the reasons partners were cut from the team at Wiley Rein, reports David Lat in Abovethelaw.com, was that they weren't bringing in new business.
My hunch is that it wasn't that they were arrogant and assumed selling was beneath them. More likely, they never learned the fundamentals of sales, especially closing. Perhaps, in the past, business had been dropped into their laps.
The mindset and techniques of selling are different from what it takes to perform well as a lawyer. Sure, both involve persuasion but the two contexts are very different.
In sales, the first step is listening. That should be signaled with an earnest look and note-taking. The objective is to identify what problem the prospects want solved.
That could be as simple as the emotional reassurance of having an expert to provide input on concerns associated with the legal operation of a business. Therefore, the solution would be a retainer relationship, with terms and conditions prospects find favorable. It's probably unwise to burden the sales process, at that point, with upselling or cross-selling.
Or, it could be complex. Prospects are being sued. Here, a number of solutions can be described, including counter-suing. Examples should be cited of similar situations partners have handled in the past and the positive outcomes.
That track record or "evidence" is mandatory in pitching. The game is to provide the most compelling reasons why you should be chosen versus the competition. And that demands brilliant staging in tone and content. At its core, selling is a theatrical performance. Each one is custom-made for specific clients. For a frightened prospect, the best presentation could be low-key, with extreme caring. Hold off showcasing one's mighty mind.
Not all of this is intuitive. And observing rainmakers go about their selling won't do the trick since a sales approach and execution have to be a seamless fit with each professional. Ideally, it shouldn't be experienced by prospects as "being sold to."
BigLaw might bring in-house a hands-on seminar for partners or outsource that training to a franchise such as Dale Carnegie. All that should be positioned by the law firm as developmental, not remedial.