What Can a Business Consultant do for Professional Service Providers?


Aaron Hall: I’m Aaron Hall, business attorney in Minneapolis. I’m here today with Michael Cavitt of Cavitt Associates. Michael is a business consultant with a very interesting skills set. And Michael, I’d like to turn to you and ask—We’ve talked a little about sales professionals, business owners, fund raising professionals, those are all people in a sales role. Let’s look at professional service providers, attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, who are always selling, but also have that consulting and service providing role as well. How do you help them increase the amount of the clients and revenue for their practice?

Michael Cavitt: Thanks, Aaron. That’s a great question because frequently, people in those categories don’t have a dedicated sales force that’s out there developing prospects, developing opportunities for proposals. So as independent professionals, even if you’re in an office like yours, you still have to have your own system in place. Now, a strong office will create systems for each of the professionals and then help them maintain it. If not, then they need to be sitting down, and this is how I can help them to evaluate what they’re doing now, if anything, because there’s a lot of “if anything” out there. People have said to me, “Well why are you doing this? You’re a intuit problem solver. You help people solve problems and take advantage of opportunities. Why focus on follow-up?” I am really bad at follow-up. And that’s—I like to say in my workshops, that it is the same reason so many people go into psychiatry and psychology, they want to solve their problems. When I was looking at a focus I could bring to my practice, it was, “You know I don’t do a very good job with this. Maybe I can figure out how to help myself, and help other people.”

Aaron Hall: Michael, a lot of professionals got into the profession because they love the profession, not sales, not client development. Let’s take a scenario of a reluctant rainmaker. In other words, an attorney, in this hypothetical, who does not like to sell. They love the law, they love helping clients. Where do we start?

Michael Cavitt: Okay. We start by, “What are you doing now?” And nothing is an okay place. Then we talk about the markets, and the breakdown within those markets. Are you going to be a litigator? Are you going to be handling civil matters? Are you going to be a business attorney? Are you going to be in a state—

Aaron Hall: So here in this scenario, let’s try a business litigator. So in other words, they are not having an ongoing relationship with somebody over the life of their business. It is every few years a business owner gets into a significant bind, a big legal problem comes up, and they need a fighter. And they want—This attorney wants to be the call at that point.

Michael Cavitt: Okay. I think it was in the 80’s, we were introduced to this concept TOMA, T-O-M-A, Top Of Mind Awareness. And that’s the whole idea behind having an effective follow-up system, is that when that call needs to be made, you think, “Okay. I need to call Aaron.” Again it’s looking at the market you want to focus on, in this case business litigation. And when you need somebody who is a prospect, so you’re saying, if this person had a problem, this is the situation that I would like to work with. This is the kind of professional, or could be business owner, that I want to work with. How can you then—So then the question and the dialogue becomes, how can you stay in touch with them on a regular basis so when they receive your email, they receive a video, they receive a paper document from you, they go, “Oh wow. Here’s something from Aaron. I wonder what he’s talking about this month, this quarter.”

Aaron Hall: How do you do that, when the topic you may be helping with is not relevant to the business owner who you’re connecting with right now, but may be relevant 3 years down the road when they encounter that problem?

Michael Cavitt: I’ve had enough discussions over the years with business attorneys to know that all business owners are either getting ready to get into trouble or trying to get out of trouble. It—Well maybe not all.

Aaron Hall: Trying to avoid it. If they’re not avoiding it on a routine basis, they’re getting into it.

Michael Cavitt: Exactly. And so to me, when I start thinking about that, I start thinking about the educational components, a little, quick, bits of information. Have you, in the last quarter, created some intellectual property that needs protection? Have you—Have you—And to be able to drop those little messages in a short email, or a blog post, or a post card even, so that they’re seeing things coming in. And it does two things, I think. One is it keeps you top of mind. So when an issue flares up that they didn’t see coming, they’ve got somebody on the top of mind to call. And the other one is that it encourages getting in touch with you about issues before they flare up. Intellectual property is one that I’m dealing with myself right now, trying to figure out how many of the models that I’m creating do I need to protect. It’s so, how—