How do we teach a professional the skill of handling telephone inquiries from new prospective clients, the process for securing retainer fees, courting prospective client contacts, or cross-selling existing clients on other services provided by the firm? The best learning process developed so far is called Behavioural Modelling. It involves five elements:
- A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING. This is similar to the checklist provided to pilots to outline the required steps to take off and land an airplane. The framework is important to understanding the various elements of the example. In the RAINMAKING® program, participant workbooks provide a framework for understanding. Each contains a brief overview of the topic, its importance, the three to six key steps the professional is to follow, and a rationale for each of the key steps. The balance of the written materials include checklists or forms to aid participants in practicing the skills.
- A DEMONSTRATION. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an example or model can convey a complete story. In the RAINMAKING® program, each session includes a demonstration by one of your firm’s accomplished rainmakers showing an example in a realistic manner. Because many professionals do not distinguish between knowledge and skill, these demonstrations are an important element of the program in that they underline the need to hone the relevant skills.
- PRACTICE. Watching someone drive a car does not build sufficient skills. Practice is essential to acquire a skill. Practice is at the heart of the RAINMAKING® program. Practice is required to perfect any skill. Practice builds the skill itself along with the confidence to try it in the real world following a training session. Practice is the vehicle in which the individual gets comfortable with applying new behaviour to everyday client interactions. By a careful learning design, every practitioner has the opportunity to practice becoming a competent Rainmaker. Real life situations are used. In each module, more than half of the training time is spent in practicing the specific skill.
- FEEDBACK. Providing feedback lets participants know how they are doing. Similarly, they are directed on how their behaviour can be improved. Feedback is provided by several means within the RAINMAKING® program. First it comes from the other professionals, constructively passed on to participants. Feedback comes from the program leader who is constantly working with the participants during their practice sessions. Finally, because steps and principles have been carefully spelled out, one is able to be highly self-analytical about his or her own performance.
- TRANSFER. This final phase ensures that skills acquired during the session are applied by the professionals back in their “real world”. Participants commit themselves to applying their newly acquired skills with clients. Following the implementation of these skills, participants report their progress at each subsequent training session.
A Comprehensive Training System
This particular training effort is designed to be completely self-contained, such that it can become your firm’s own internal program, led by your own professionals, and capable of transferring skills that already exist within your firm. There are more than 300 legal and accounting firms throughout the world, ranging in size from small boutiques to firms of 1000’s of professionals who have used or are using this program. The fourteen-skill building modules contained in this program include participant workbook materials, a leader’s facilitation guide, on-site (or virtual) coaching of your internal leaders, and ongoing implementation assistance.
There There are several valuable results which the program is designed to achieve:
- It transfers the knowledge and skills about client relations from your senior professionals to your younger practitioners.
- This program is predicated on the realization that for most firms, 10% of your firm’s professionals already possess exceptional client relations skills. The key is transferring this know-how and skill to the majority of your people.
- It shortens the learning curve by speeding up development of client relations and marketing skills in its participants.
- The client relations skills it traditionally took ten or more years to acquire through trial and error can now be developed far more quickly.
- Your own professionals and/or internal support people can deliver the training without the need for outside consultants or “experts”.
- Outside experts rarely know enough about you professionals, your firm, your clients, or your competitors. Since this program is led internally, your people will be far more candid and open about real situations and opportunities where they may exist.
- It compliments other marketing programs your firm already has in place such as mentoring, individual marketing plans, industry niche marketing, and total quality management programs.
- This program does not pretend to be the only solution to your firm’s client challenges, but it does address the neglected area of client relations skills training for your professionals.
- This program is highly considerate of practitioners time.
- There is no pre-reading or post reading required of participants. And, our leaders tell us that on average they only spend about 20 minutes preparing to lead a session.
- It is highly flexible and modular so it can be delivered the way you want, when you want it, consistent with your firm’s needs, time demands and culture.
It’s not a cookie-cutter training program. We suggest that a one-hour session be held every month. If time demands on your professionals are such that an hour per month is too much, then schedule sessions less frequently. It’s always your judgement call, not ours.
For more information, contact Gerry Riskin.