Noticias de Despachos


Vida Colegial Comunidad Legal Sistema Judicial Internacional
Arbitraje Mediación TIC Abogados Jóvenes Entrevistas Colaboraciones/Opinión Reportajes Agenda BLOGS LP emprende


Selling know-how: Lawyers as Trusted Advisors

Por Dr. Josef G. Boeck, CEO Singhammer IT Consulting

Dr. Josef G. Boeck, CEO Singhammer IT ConsultingWinning and keeping clients is the substance of any business. The core is actively convincing a person interested of the value of one’s own product or service so that the person becomes a customer.

Let us have a look at that statement in general and from the point of view of the legal business in particular.

If we enter a supermarket and buy a package of washing powder without the help of a shop assistant, this is not the result of a selling process but the consequence of the marketing of either the supermarket or the brand building of the manufacturer of the washing powder. Hardly ever will we find a shop assistant whom we want to influence us what product to choose.

If we enter a shoe shop to buy a pair of business shoes after our graduation for the first time in our life we normally start asking peers where to go to get that type of shoe. With the recommendation of our peers we enter the shop, tell the shop assistant what we want and then start trying different models and discussing the pros and cons. At the end of the process, we decide for a pair that the shop assistant made us feel comfortable and well with. Often, we spend more money on the shoes than we originally planned - but we are convinced that it was a good choice. To a large degree we trusted the advice of the shop assistant who seemed to feel what suited us.

Lawyers offering their services to the free market basically have the same tool set as anyone else to find customers. The main difference to the buying and selling situations just mentioned is that a lawyer sells know-how and not a product. This gives selling a dimension that is worth looking at in some detail.

In a broad sense, a lawyer is a professional service provider for legal questions. The system that he or she is an expert in, is comparable to a doctor who is an expert in biology and psychology, an IT consultant who knows everything on the collaboration of different software moduls in an information system or a financial consultant who has an in-depth knowledge of the risks of different types of investment. All three expamples have in common that the difference in know-how between the professional and the client is normally huge. If the expert does his profession real honor, it is so immense that the client cannot easily assess the level of expertise a professional in these areas has and, particularly, what level of expertise is needed in the specific situation a client is confronted with.

Winning a new customer is the trust in the promise of an expert that he or she can close the gap between what is needed to solve a specific problem and the point where the client is. This can be done by our normal selling techniques - most of which are ways to convince a client of a specific solution or approach for his current problem. If successful, we have a foot in the door and can go the first steps to a new business relationship.

From a financial perspective, winning a new customer is the most expensive part of our business relationship for us. What we want, therefore, is to keep a customer as long as possible. One way of achieving this can be learned from a trend which we see at the moment particularly in the IT industry.

The complexity of current IT landscapes with a multitude of solutions for the same problem makes it difficult for clients to find an appropriate solution for their IT challenges. Often they do not even know what the challenges are. As a consequence, the customers very often trust solution offerings which are in the limited portfolio of a specific vendor. They neither do spend the time nor undergo the effort to broaden their choice by consulting more than one solution provider.

What IT companies are doing now is to position themselves not as product sales organisations but as guides through the labyrinth of possible solutions. They offer their know-how independent from the actual selling of products. They position themselves as solution architects who are willing to bring in other experts when needed. They promise to find the best solution not only for the current customer situation but lay the foundation for a strategy which will make future decisions easier, faster and cheaper. Doing that, they get rid of the bias of a result or deal driven salesperson and win the trust of the customer as an advisor.

Decision makers and executives bring in experts if they have an issue they cannot cope with alone. IT consultants solve specific problems in information systems and lawyers help through the jungle of rules for a specific hazard. The next level of help can be that such executives ask for help in a neighboring field and offer the expert the opportunity to extend his or her offering. The objective of the customer is still to get a specific problem solved. The more issues the partners handle the more valuable the resource becomes for the customer. The stage of a trusted advisor is reached if the specialist is brought in to comment on and beyond the broad context of his expertise. He is invited to influence the setup of whole systems and the integration of external factors. The individual project or problem solved points no longer stands for itself but becomes just another milestone in the common project and in maintaining and preserving the relationship. With every issue and advice, the expert proves that it makes a difference to work with her or him.

If we look at this approach, we find that the approach itself is not new - successful business partners have been using it for generations. Be it the traditional house bank, the old fashioned family lawyer or the tailer as of old - they brought this idea to life without giving it the modern tag. Nevertheless we can deduce valuable insights from them and try to transform them into our own enterprises.

The trusted advisor approach does not only bet on the expertise of the advisor and its extending realm and value for the client. It also requires the right type of customer for such an approach and our attitude towards him. Those customers seem natural partners who have a proven record to work with professional advisors on a long term basis. A good reputation in their ecosystem and the power to make and follow strategic decisions help to transform our advice into results for such customers. Thy have to allow us to work out before or with the first real issue what is special and different about them so that we can adjust to their individual character.

Expertise may be the basis, the right customer the prerequisite, but the main factor of the trusted advisor approach is the advisor himself. Like in any other relationship the advisor gains his role through his personal attitude. "Personal trustworthiness, independence, judgement, risktaking, big-picture thinking and empathy" are the epiteta that Andrea Sobel sees in his book All for One (2009) as the basic traits. Without them, a lawyer can win cases for his customer in many cases but cannot develop into a trusted advisor on a long term basis.

These views on expertise, the right customer and on one’s own personal attitude make it obvious that the path from a problem solving or avoiding lawyer to trusted advisor is a long and very personal one. It is more like a project than a single step or act of will or a single decision. It is a philosophy of selling by engaging in a long term relationship with clients and it is much more than the relationship between customers and a shop assistant who sells them a new pair of shoes now and then.



Dr. Josef G. Boeck began his career at Singhammer Datentechnik GmbH in Munich in 1987 after obtaining his doctorate; until 1997 he was general manager for services and finance there. In 1998 he formed Singhammer IT Consulting AG, of which he is managing director. Since 2007 Dr. Böck has also been working as a commercial judge. Since 2012 he has been a lecturer at the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

He has a long record of dealing with sales in a professional service environment. Being a long time sales person for big and international accounts he has learned his professional skills in IBM, Microsoft and HP trainings. He has been invited on numerous occasions to present his sales experience in peer rounds, at vendor and manufacturer panels and the Chamber of Commerce, Munich.




Buscar en


Suscribirse a nuestro Boletín semanal

Grupo Paradell





copyright, 2014 - Strong Element, S.L.  -  Peña Sacra 18  -  E-28260 Galapagar - Madrid  -  Spain -  Tel.: + 34 91 858 75 55  -  Fax: + 34 91 858 56 97   -  - - Aviso legal