How to Know and Understand Your Clients?
Running a business is a profession as such. The entrepreneur must act quickly and effectively in an environment that is in constant flux. For you as his lawyer this means you constantly must be aware of the main developments within his organisation. The client expects you not only to fully understand his business and the sector he is operating in, but also to act as a proactive partner in business.
Unfortunately, there is only limited (nonbillable) time. Time you preferably spend by focusing on your own speciality. Therefore, it could be quite a task getting a good, integral representation of the entrepreneur and his enterprise. Crucial in your client focus is not only being there when problems occur. More important is for you to make sure problems can be prevented by proactively advise on legal issues the client could encounter. Marxman Advocaten aims up to this client focus and puts the client's needs and demands first by really listening to him and providing valuable input. That approach is quite innovative within the Dutch legal field.
Three topics you need to know
In the conversation with our clients we define three main issues that need to be known to get the complete integral representation enabling your firm to proactively give (legal) advise.
1. What is your core business? This includes questions concerning revenue, products, services and the company's structure (in countries, branch offices and people).
2. What is your strategy? Often entrepreneurs have no clear strategy, but they do have an idea of where they want to be in five years. The issue is: where to does the entrepreneur want to go.
Then the key question can be popped. To achieve his strategy goals, the entrepreneur should determine, implement and execute a business policy.
So, the question is: 3. What does achieving the strategy goals mean for your five main business units: procurement, sales, automation (IT), finance and HR? In other words, how does the entrepreneur want to move regarding these subjects?
Talking about the subjects from his own perspective, the entrepreneur will most likely discuss this in a natural way. The pitfall at this stage for you as a legal specialist is to immediately start talking about your 'own' jurisdiction. Of course, procurement and sales are also about contract law, competition, liability and international law. Automation is about ICT law, finance about security, restructuring, insolvency and shareholder agreements and yes, HR is about labor law. But be aware of this pitfall, as other issues won't be discussed and addressed.
By talking about these themes you will discover the changes that will take place in the enterprise. This enables your firm to indicate legal consequences and pitfalls for this specific client. From here nothing should keep you and the entrepreneur from determining which topics need detailed consideration.
So almost automatically, an agenda for the coming period is created that as a (account) plan could guide you as the account manager. If you on top of this, capture this plan into a smart CRM system, share it with your colleagues and annually check new developments, you will create a good foundation for a thriving business practice