Master Your Business Development Plan with Steve Fretzin

Sales. What is your first reaction when you hear that word? For many law firm owners, it has the impression of aggressive selling and pitch meetings. However, we need to understand that law firms are a business, and sales is a key part of growth. It’s more than just selling; the sales process or business development is about building trust and relationships.

In this episode, Steve Fretzin joins us to discuss the value of having a business development plan in growing your firm. We talk about the importance of identifying your niche and target clientele. Steve also shares that people’s decisions are driven by different motivators. If we want to serve our clients well, we need to understand them down to these motivations. We need to know how to ask the right questions.

If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of having a business development plan, then this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Understand the importance of acknowledging the sales component of any law firm business.
  2. Know the key components of a business development plan. 
  3. Learn the three different motivators that drive the decisions of your clients and targets. 


Episode Highlights

Steve’s Background

  • Steve shares that he started on business development for entrepreneurs. Along the way, lawyers grew to become his primary clientele. 
  • Steve highlights sales-free selling. Many people can feel uncomfortable with sales outright. 
  • A lot of lawyers prefer the term marketing or business development over sales. 
  • Steve has spent the last 12-13 years helping lawyers generate revenue with less time and effort.

Sales: A Scary Word?

  • The aversion to using sales stems from the way lawyers used to get their clients. 
  • Before, there wasn’t a need to “sell” people your services. If someone needed a lawyer, they would get a referral from their church, club, or community.  
  • Potential clients are now looking things up online.
  • Now is an opportunity to start finding people and get their attention even before they need your services. 
  • Your value as a lawyer is both your skillset and book of business. Sales are a critical component of business growth.  

Why Having a Process Is Important 

  • You need to be able to have a system in place to address any situation you’re in. 
  • You can’t just wing it.
  • With the help of a process, you can be more successful over time. You’re also able to identify what works and what doesn’t.

Steve: “It's all about [the] process. Anything in business that's successful leads back to having a good process.”

Core Components of the Process 

  • When you’re developing a plan, you need to lay out the planning stages. 
  • The crucial components are planning, execution, and follow-through. 
  • Steve helps his clients create a tracking form. He looks at the number of emails that clients need to send, their meetings, and the value they get from the meetings.   
  • By looking at this information, Steve helps his clients with feedback on what needs to be improved.

Know Your Target

  • You need to understand who your targets or end-users are. 
  • You should also know the people that are in front of your targets. 
  • They may help you get a meeting with your prospect.
  • Marketing supports business development. 
  • With marketing, you’re targeting many people. By doing so, when a target needs a service that you offer, they know who to approach. 

Steve: “So I can't tell you how many lawyers I talked to; they don't have any real idea or understanding of who their targets are. And so then how do you get business if you don't really, you know, how do you get business efficiently, I should say, if you don't have those targets top of mind, front and center, right in front of you every day?”

Find Your Unique Value

  • Finding your niche takes time. You need to know the space well and be comfortable in it.
  • Sometimes, people are also known for general things. Things can work differently for these people. 
  • Even if you can’t niche down immediately, work towards it. 

Steve: “There's definitely something to be said about niching down and then also thinking about what else might make you interesting or make you relevant to the community that you serve.”

Having a Meaningful Life

  • At some point in your life, you’ll experience something that will define how you want to live the rest of your life.

Steve: “But, you know, life just throws things at you. And you have to step up and meet the moment... And how are you responding to it? How are you getting up? How are you making things better? And that's really what I think defines us in our lifetimes is not what happens to us, but how we respond.”

  • Steve shares that being in a plane accident made him reevaluate his life. 
  • It was because of this that he became more serious about wanting to make an impact. 
  • When we go through difficult moments, it’s often painful. But when we look back, we’re always better off for it.

Moshe: “And you don't need to live every day in fear that that's your last day. But you do need to be purposeful so that you can be happy or content if today was your last day.”

  • Listen to the full episode to hear Steve recount his near-death experience.

How to Serve Your Targets 

  • Before knowing how to serve your targets, you need to understand their profile. 
  • You look at location, size, and title, among others. 
  • You can also look at strategic partners that you can collaborate with.
  • When you do a meeting with targets, veer away from a sales pitch. Instead, focus on your value and building trust. 

Steve: “The seller wants to close the deal. The buyer wants free consulting and everything under the sky without having to commit. So what I'm teaching is how do we walk a buyer through a buying decision so that it's a fit?”

The Three Motivators of Buyers 

  • Lawyers should ask questions that will uncover the three motivators for making decisions. 
  • These motivators are pain, gain, and fear. 
  • When you walk a buyer through their decision, you can ask questions to learn about their motivations before they even start showing objections. 
  • Focus on asking good questions and genuinely listening to others. 
  • Don’t know what to ask? Steve guides us through some qualifying and commitment questions in the full episode! 

Steve: “So we're taking something from making the pitch the emphasis to making the process of questioning, listening, empathy, [and] understanding the emphasis. And that's something lawyers can enjoy. Because when you take the pressure of the pitch away, now it's just about learning about somebody.”

Steve’s Final Thoughts on Business

  • Each person has their way of going through their sales process.  
  • To work with Steve, you need to be ambitious and open-minded. 
  • Steve also has books and content to help lawyers who want to know what it takes to have a business development plan.
  • Steve advises lawyers to build a book of business. 

Steve: “If you're an attorney, and you're looking to have a long, sustainable career with wealth and freedom, you're gonna want to consider, now more than ever, that you need to build a book of business, whether you're doing it through marketing, branding, [or] business development.”

About Steve

Steve Fretzin is the founder and president of Fretzin, Inc. His company helps law firms and lawyers master business development to achieve their business goals and create a successful practice. For over 16 years, Steve has helped and guided lawyers to become confident, organized, and skilled rainmakers. Beyond his consulting and training programs, he has written three books to help lawyers even more: These are Sales Free Selling, The Attorney's Networking Handbook, and The Ambitious Attorney. 

Steve’s passion for assisting law firm owners with legal marketing and business development led him to host Be THAT Lawyer, a podcast dedicated to helping lawyers expand their knowledge. 

Steve has also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Crain's, and He was a guest in NBC News and WGN Radio, and has contributed articles for Attorney at Law Magazine, the National Law Review, the American Bar Association, and the Illinois Bar Association. 

Are you interested in Steve’s work? Make sure to check out his website to know more.

You can also reach out to him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Youtube. Alternatively, you can email him at [email protected].

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