The Four Steps Behind Every Sale
The framework I developed about how to sell software to law firms and legal departments, and why many go to market teams struggle with the legal vertical
I’ve always been fascinated by the topic of persuasion. I mean, even as a law student, I knew I’d be a litigator—not because I had a passion for writing briefs or doing legal research—but because I knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer. When I left law, I gravitated to the most persuasion-related function out there: sales. And there I continued my journey in trying to really understand how you can use words, ideas, and stories to convince other people to do things.
I spent five years selling software to lawyers.1 It was a fantastic education, especially since I believe lawyers are probably one of the hardest groups of people to convince to do anything, let alone purchase five or six figures in software subscriptions. Because it was so hard, I was forced to develop some first principles about selling to lawyers, and sales in general. Today, I’m no longer a salesman, but I’ve moved to a different part of the sales funnel. Which, despite being part of the “community” function, is a big part of my job.
Last week, I attended an in-person community dinner hosted by my company. I mean, it’s not the first time I’ve ever done an in person event as part of a legal tech company. I used to do it all the time. But it’s been over two years since I’ve done something like this, and I think now—with the benefit of context from doing sales & marketing 100% online due to the pandemic—I’ve developed some insights and understanding about how to persuade lawyers at scale.
None of these insights are ground breaking by the way. But I think the trouble with most legal tech companies (and lawyers interested in business development) is that they have no framework for understanding how persuasion works at scale. Why do we hear success stories from both shameless “salesy” reps and quiet, introspective reps?2 How do you decide if you have a marketing problem, a sales problem, or both? What exactly does it mean to be great at “closing clients?”
I’ve been thinking through these themes for years now. Today I’ll share a high level overview of what I believe to be the different parts of the sales process. (I’ll use the word “sales” here, but there are useful themes that can be applied to persuasion when you’re not engaged in selling commercially, like political campaigning.) When we see sales in action, we are often confusing multiple different stages of the process, which is why many companies make big investments into business development that never seem to pay off.