Why International Lawyers Shouldn’t “Sell” Their Expertise

When clients hire you, are they purchasing your expertise?  Not so, according to Harry Beckwith in Selling the Invisible because  “your expertise is assumed…” Rather, he points out, professionals are selling a relationship, “and that’s precisely the area [in which professionals] need the most work”.

If you are an international lawyer working at a reputible firm, most clients will assume that you know your stuff. True, they may search out specialists in certain narrow fields (like Islamic finance). However, after that, it comes down to relationships.

Recently I worked with an international lawyer who  liked to talk about her expertise–ad nauseum. At cocktail parties, in elevators, in the subway and in meetings–she talked about her expertise.  The result? Instead of developing more clients, she turned off other people.

Then, we had her pay attention to other people, how they reacted to her, and why. Eventuially, she stopped promoting her accomplishments and instead tried to cultivate relationships. Selling services takes time–and requires good relationships.

If you have not read Selling the Invisible, it shares basic principles about how to sell services. It’s an oldie but goodie (published in 1997), but is perhaps more useful than ever in today’s competitive market.

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