Excellent Sales does not mean Excellent Service

Business development skills are much prized amongst lawyers, maybe because most lawyers think of sales as some dark art which only a few can accomplish well. Over the last few years, however, I have noticed that an increasing number of lawyers get a buzz from successful rain-making, and often find the sales phase in the value chain to be almost seductive – we all know how the lure of the chase can be irresistible.
But let’s not mistake good sales with excellent service. As an example, my wife has just acquired a new MacBook pro. Apple really knows about sales – the late Steve Jobs has been praised to the skies for his ability to sell people things they did not even know they needed. In common, however, with their great rivals Microsoft, Apple seems, well, less strong, let us say, when it comes to service. Hence, it has taken me two days (on and off) to download all the updates to the basic product. Some of these updates are several months old. We also bought the Microsoft Office for Mac suite and the same applied – it took longer to install the updates than the basic product out of the box. I can think of few other things that one buys that are not ready for immediate use, apart from fresh food that needs cooking. I am sure there are plenty of reasons why these products cannot be sold in at least an oven-ready state, but as the buyers we are left with the feeling that interest evaporated when the sale was closed.
I have seen the same change in attitude in professional service once the engagement or mandate has been won. The professional – who cannot at the sales phase do enough to satisfy the potential client – sometimes seems to lose interest or focus once the job has been won. It is worth remembering that in the eyes of the client, value and attentiveness (or lack of it) is noticed at every stage in the value chain. It is also worth making sure that the client never feels that the professional is any less committed and responsive after the sale is agreed than before it.