One More Good Reason NOT To Take Your Clients To Lunch!!!

As everyone knows who has heard the How To Market A Small Law Firm audio program, I’m a big advocate of NOT taking your clients and potential referral sources to lunch.  In fact this bad advice is one of the biggest mistakes solos make when trying to make it rain for their law firms.  I’ll spare you the details why – if you don’t know either download the free e-book or review your audio program.

This posting is to share yet another example of why public restaurants are BAD PLACES TO MAKE SALES CALLS!  As I sit here on this beautiful Sunday morning, I’ve brought my laptop to the little restaurant around the corner where I often start my day – free internet access, someone to bring my coffee and eggs an electical outlet next to the table in the back where I always sit and the staff brings me "the regular" without me even having to say a word.

Anyway, the point is that as I sit here typing this to you I am busy eavesdropping on the whole campaign voter-management strategy for a local politician.  From what I can gather, the morons sitting next to me include the campaign manager and her two lieutenants.  And they’re happily (obliviously) planning out which polling locations to staff based on expected turnout, their limited resources and which of their candidates’ relatives will be able to fly into town to help at the polling location.  His sister can make it.  But his mother can’t be counted on because of her health. 

They are going to go heavy at the library but the Senior Center will be left unsupervised because they think they have that demographic locked-up already.

They walked the (name deleted) neighborhood yesterday but they don’t have enough volunteers to hit it again between now and the day of the vote.  One of the doors they knocked on was the de-facto neighborhood leader because of all the volunteer work she does and all the nice things she’s always doing for her neighbors, and her sons are both into water polo so they lieutenant thinks she bonded with her over that since the lieutenant’s own son played water polo.  And they both have the same kind of dog – Huskies.  I’m just typing this to you as sit here and listen.  I’m just in total shock.  I’m a total stranger sitting not three feet away listening to their whole strategy.  They are going to make their after party a cash-bar because they’re out of money.  If I knew the opponent I could easily impact the outcome of this election by sharing all of his opponent’s strategies.  Now they’re talking about a bunch of households whose doors they knocked on in a different neighborhood with "split" votes.  The wives are voting for their candidate, the husbands for their opponent for some reasons that have to do with the businesses those husbands are involved in. 

I’m just speechless.  I’ve been telling my Rainmaking Clients for years of all the reasons not to make sales calls in public places, and I’ve assembled a nice collection of cautionary tales.  But nothing like this.  Ohmygd- they just mentioned the name of their leading fundraiser and the fact that he’s currently out of work.

If you don’t get how huge this is, do yourself a favor and at least read the free e-book!

They’re going to hit the neighborhood around the elementary school early the day of the election and encourage the parents to take their kids to vote since apparently that’s given them a bump in the past.  OK, I have to stop now because I may lose control and slap these idiots. .  .make sales calls in your client’s office, or in your office.  Don’t waste your time, money and potentially embarass yourself and your clients and referral sources by asking them to air their dirty laundy out in public.

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Bob Kraft

What a great post! You can give us all the hypothetical reasons not to take potential or current clients to lunch and discuss business, but none of those has the impact of this real-life example.
Bob Kraft

Tom Kerner

I think this is more a case of “what not to do” at lunch.
Tom Kerner

Tom,
The criticism of the Campaign manager & her two lieutenants was not over what they needed to discuss that day. It was over their choice of location where they chose to discuss it.
The best way to convert a prospective client or potential referral source into a paying client or productive referral source is to get into the nitty-gritty. And doing so in a public place is neither effective or efficient.
So if you can’t easily discuss the things you need to discuss in order to close a sales call while out at a restaurant, it seems only logical to try and avoid conducting sales calls out in restaurants. That is, if your primary goal for having the sales call in the first place is to convert the prospects or potentials into a paying client and productive referral source.
Too many lawyers substitute sales calls for social time though. When you are with a prospective client or a potential referral source you are at work. Work as smartly and as efficiently as you can so you can leave work and go home to play.
By trying to mix the two, you end up with thw worst of both worlds: An underperforming business and not enough playtime away from the office.