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Launching successful client teams: seven ways you can help

Many law firms are establishing client teams as a way to help partners uncover opportunities, cross-sell, establish multi-level relationships, and deliver the additional value that is important to large clients. When they work well, client teams strengthen the firm’s performance and the client’s loyalty. But when they fail, which happens often, client teams create tension, bureaucracy and disappointing results. David W. Woods, president of Creating Key Clients, LLC, examines why some client teams thrive and others flounder, considering some of the ways firm leadership can help launch and sustain teams that succeed.

28 May 2002

1. Focus on the few clients that really need teams
Generally, law firms establish too many client teams. Casting too large a net, such as the firm’s 50 largest clients, they create teams for some clients who don’t need a team, don’t value the effort and won’t reciprocate.

When is an on-going client team needed? First, when you’ve decided the client is strategically important - it provides a flow of work and other benefits to the firm like valuable contacts, referrals, firm development, and credibility. Second, when that flow of work is driving client demand for fee discounts, customization, knowledge tools, and other value-adds the firm can’t deliver unless partners focus on those needs and coordinate a response. Third, when the client is changing in some way that makes it apparent the firm needs a more collaborative, strategic and purposeful approach to building the relationship; for example, when the client is changing its strategies, its people, ...

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