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How to Tie Profit to Training

By David Ackert on August, 16 2013

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David Ackert

My company has been in the business of coaching and training professionals on business development for almost 15 years. On the surface, what we do makes sense. If you aren’t getting the results you want, hire an expert to show you how to improve your skill set.

But many service professionals are sales-averse skeptics who challenge our value proposition. What if a firm engages us for a training program only to learn that their trainees did not implement our advice, or even worse, that their trainees implemented the training and a year later business was still flat?

Fortunately, the Ackert Advisory has a consistent track record for effectiveness when it comes to our work, but we decided to learn more about the marketplace in general. So, we conducted a survey of North American-based law firms on the results they were seeing from their business development training programs. First, we learned that the four most common training programs at law firms are as follows:

  1. Internal coaching – Marketing staff or professional-development staff employed by the firm whose job includes coaching firm lawyers on a case-by-case basis or through a structured program
  2. External coaching – Outside coaches who are engaged for a period of time to work with one or more lawyers
  3. Sales webinar/trainer – Outside consultants who present a “one-off” instructional program in person or via webinar with no follow-up
  4. Formal mentorship – A structured program whereby senior counsel are paired with junior lawyers for an extended tutelage on business development

We also discovered that, regardless of the type of training program utilized, few firms reported that their business development training expenditures yielded a positive return. This is mostly because law firms don’t attribute meaningful metrics to their business development training. They rely on anecdotal feedback such as, “the lawyers liked it” without circling back to see if any new business was originated out of the training. This harkens back to the old adage, “you can’t change what you don’t measure.”

So, if you plan to train the people at your firm to become better business-getters, make sure you establish meaningful performance metrics and link the training to measurable financial outcomes. Our recent white paper on this topic shows you how to do this. It also includes the specific statistics we gathered from the market-wide survey. Click here to read the full report.


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