Is sales enablement the next big thing in legal services? | JD Supra Perspectives


Simply put, sales enablement builds business development cultures in law firms…

Research indicates that individuals only retain about 10% of what they are taught in classroom training. In fact, it’s estimated that half of classroom learning is lost in the first 24 hours. While this type of instruction is always required as part of the professional development process, one-time classroom instruction is insufficient to acquire the knowledge and skills that lead to new behaviors.

This is especially true when learning new subjects, such as lawyers learning new skills in business development.

To acquire new skills and behaviors, learners need to have their learning reinforced continuously and in multiple ways. You can do this using quizzes and exercises, one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and on-the-job practice (where skills are applied in real-world settings). These “follow-up reinforcement strategies” can improve skill development and knowledge retention by up to 90%.

For law firms, this type of continuous learning loop is rarely used to teach business development skills (although I know of two that are developing similar programs). However, law firms can look to a growing trend among their corporate brethren as a model for solving the business development training challenge.

This is called sales activation. As you will read, companies that create this type of business development learning culture, learn more about how to sell individual practices, better facilitate new engagements, better understand what to look for in potential hires and build better, more collaborative teams around revenue growth. . Simply put, sales enablement creates business development cultures in law firms.

What is sales enablement?

The Association for Talent Development defines sales enablement as “the strategic, cross-functional effort to increase the productivity of customer-facing teams by providing ongoing, relevant resources throughout the buyer’s journey to generate business impact”. It encompasses sales training, coaching, content creation, process improvement, talent development, and compensation, among other areas. »

HubSpot spells it out more succinctly. He describes sales enablement as an “iterative process of providing your company’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.”

In short, sales enablement is how law firms can take control of their business development and marketing processes and improve the effectiveness of their revenue growth initiatives. Sales assistance, however, is a new concept in legal services. To facilitate this understanding, let’s put sales assistance in the context of a real-world experience that lawyers can relate to.

What might sales enablement look like in a typical corporate law firm?

Let’s use a data security practice area to illustrate what sales enablement might look like. I use this practice as an example because it has two distinct selling strategies. The first is a proactive “consultative” sales approach in which salespeople inform potential customers of the risks associated with poorly protected data. The second is a reactive “crisis response and management” approach in which vendors must position themselves as first responders to data breach incidents.

The first step in sales enablement is to map the unique sales process, most effective strategies, buying situations and value propositions that will appeal to buyers in each practice sub-area, in this case, the practice of “advice” and the practice of “crisis response”.

Not only do these two firms have different sales processes, but the training and coaching support will be unique to each. Training reinforcement exercises, quizzes and strategies should be linked to real-life situations, making it easier for lawyers to learn because it is set in the context of what they will experience.

Coaches (whether internal or external) also need to know the training so they can anchor their advice on what the lawyer has learned (and avoid introducing new concepts that may confuse or conflict with their training). Marketing materials also vary. They should be concise and provide only the most relevant and critical practice information based on the situation and purchasing needs.

And value propositions should reflect the real situation of the business rather than more general and often hollow promises of value. Additionally, a data breach situation may involve a different set of value-added services than the value-added services defined for the Data Protection Advisory Service. And the metrics used to manage, report, and improve processes will need to be tailored for each of the two practices, including coordinating different technologies to improve sales enablement in each practice, such as CRM systems, billing systems, finance and content. management systems.

How would the training be different?

Training content should include the unique buying signals and selling triggers to listen for or watch out for, relevant responses and conversion techniques to use in different buying situations, and an understanding of the buying journey that buyers will follow in their decision-making process. The stakeholders and decision makers in each buying situation may also differ. Again, the training will need to be reinforced with personalized techniques and tools that can help integrate knowledge and develop the skills of each lawyer.

During the content development process, key performance indicators (KPIs), learning objectives and reporting systems should be adapted to accurately track the performance of each attorney. KPIs should monitor performance deviations so that improvements can be made quickly. Finally, the enhanced insights gained through sales enablement should help inform recruiting profiles, hiring decisions, talent development programs, and compensation policies.

In conclusion

It is apparent from this example that sales enablement requires a close working relationship between professional development, marketing and business development, finance and accounting, human resources and recruiting, and practice management. But by aligning with sales performance, the company will build a culture of business development. Of course, the skills and knowledge required in leaders tasked with creating a sales enablement program require a rare combination of strong sales and marketing experience, educational design and training abilities, management skills project and process improvement capabilities. These people are admittedly hard to find at this stage. But while it may take some time to set up a program, improving revenue and sustainable growth will more than pay for the time and effort. Additionally, a sales support program will ensure that the business can grow organically and steadily in the future.


Eric Dewey has coached and trained professionals for over two decades. He has advised hundreds of lawyers and other professional service providers on marketing, business development, practice management and lateral hiring. A former CMO of several large law firms, Eric was frustrated with the lack of training and tools that practically addressed the unique needs of corporate lawyers. He created his business development models based on his observations of hundreds of attorney-client interactions. He launched his program in 2020 and created, an online training, coaching and practice development referral community for lawyers. Today, it offers the industry’s largest selection of practice development e-learning modules for corporate lawyers, gamification, custom portals, and dozens of business development forms and guides. .

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