The Glue: Linkedin and social selling

In this second episode of The Glue, I talk to doyen of LinkedIn for professional services, Alex Low.

In this episode of The Glue, James Stringer - a former BD Director at Deloitte Legal and senior BD leader in major law firms - talks to Alex Low, an expert in the use of LinkedIn and social selling in professional services.

This episode explores social selling and how BD, Marketing & Comms teams can harness it more effectively, both for their firms and themselves. 

Topics discussed include:

  • Does social selling generate revenue for professionals?
  • How can you convince more professionals to use LinkedIn?
  • Is it better to let people post as they wish or control content?
  • When is best to post and what content can be used to get engagement?
  • How can BD, Marketing and Comms professionals use LinkedIn to help their firms and themselves? 

You can also Follow this podcast on Spotify.

My new podcast: The Glue - episode 1 on the role of BD, Marketing & Comms in PSFs

The Glue is a podcast unashamedly aimed at BD, Marketing & Communications teams in professional service firms.

In this first episode, I talk to Stefanie Hoogklimmer of Venturis onsulting Group and Eddie Bowman of Eddie Bowman Consulting to get clarity on the role of these professionals, where and how we can have the most impact and what skills and attributes we need now and in the future.

Please Follow this podcast on Spotify.

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Nervous of ‘buying without trying’? So are your clients…

For all clients, substitution risk (the risk that your new provider is in fact no better than your incumbent) is very real. That’s not good for us change agents.

Their challenge is that you can’t ‘try’ professionals before you ‘buy’ them. After all, it’s not like turning up at a car dealer and doing a test drive. So, conservative buying becomes the norm and is your enemy as a seller of professional services.

So how can we reduce substitution risk and give the client an opportunity to ‘try before they buy’?

The answer is to share as much of your insight and intellectual property as you feel comfortable doing (and probably more besides). The more you share, the more likely you are to be appointed.

Insight to action

An effective way to do this when pitching for work is to provide an issues and solutions section, a project plan and other analysis that demonstrates your thinking about the client’s situation. This tells them that this is the good stuff they are going to get if they appoint you.

It also allows you to show you know your stuff, are thinking in the right way and are in fact already on the journey as an adviser.

Nervous about sharing the crown jewels?

Think of it this way. Unless you are lucky or the proven favourite, if you don’t share your insight with your client at this early stage of your relationship your chances of winning the mandate are low. If you do share your intellectual property, you stand a chance.

And does it work? In one of the firms I worked with, I did some analysis of the win rates for projects which included an issues and solutions section. The win rate was some 20 percentage points higher than those that did not.

Worth the effort? I think so.

Examples of our Work

Key themes for 2023’s partner offsites

If your firm is arranging an offsite/retreat/away day/town hall (call it what you will) partner gathering in 2023, what should feature on the agenda?

Whatever the event’s format, you’ll no doubt want partners to feel the time they’ve invested is worthwhile. They also need to come away feeling energised and motivated to support the points covered. These are meetings that matter, and it goes without saying that it is important everyone is up for discussing the key strategic topics and themes.

Your key themes for 2023

Here are four ideas for starters for professional firms’ senior team agendas:

  • Growth
  • Responding to competitors by harnessing technology and new ways of working
  • Winning the war for talent
  • Progressing the ESG agenda


Growth is essential if your firm wants to make room for your up-and-coming talent.

We know many firms are currently questioning where growth is going to come from in 2023. In a recent survey by HSBC and Briefing Magazine*, 70% of C-Suite respondents of leading law firms expected merger and acquisition activity among law firms to increase in the year ahead. Is your firm looking to be an acquirer or a target?

M&A is appealing, but there is often organic growth to be had closer to home. It just needs a focus on areas which could unlock new revenue. For example:

  • Are your firm’s partners working together to grow client relationships or collaborating to create new services?
  • Are your lateral hires supported and is your partnership helping them succeed?
  • Are your partners equipped with the skills necessary to convert prospects to loyal clients?

These all represent good themes for discussion and partner development in your senior team.

Competitors, new ways of working and embracing technology.

New entrants are joining professional services’ markets all the time. Examples include the Big Four accountancy firms becoming serious players in the legal market and private equity circling the accountancy sector. This means doing the same old, same old could be a highly risky option.

The adoption of new ways of working and technology is setting some firms apart and improving profit margins. As uncomfortable as it might be, this has been the response of most other service industries. So what are your firm’s plans when it comes to competing?

Winning the war for talent and progressing the ESG agenda

Topics three and four from our list are interconnected.  Managing your people in the new hybrid age, while salaries overheat in a number of professional services sectors, are twin challenges that make excellent people management essential if your firm is to navigate a smooth path ahead.

The current economic landscape is also forcing firms to re-consider salaries in relation to rising costs faced by their employees and also across the organisation’s operations. Then there’s the smaller talent pool which many firms are experiencing as they recruit to meet the rising demands for their services.

For the fourth topic, there continues to be an expectation from both clients and staff that the ESG agenda is at the heart of a firm’s strategy.  It means that for many leaders, people and purpose remain priority number one.

For example, have you got a response if your key rival firm makes the changes necessary to steal a march?

In this respect, why not invite some of your people to talk to the partnership so that they hear it from the coal face and therefor allow your people to become part of the solution.

Can we help?

2023 promises to be another interesting year for professional firms’ strategic agendas.  If your firm would value some help to make your key partner discussions as effective as possible, don’t hesitate to get in touch on james.stringer@momentassociates or tel +44 (0)7775 744431


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Because you are worth it…

Not many of us (except probably a recent former U.S. President) like talking about money – especially when we have to state the expected cost of our advice to clients.

When clients ask us what our advice will cost, the temptation is to exhibit the body language of the unconfident and mumble. However, and assuming you know your stuff, clients are getting tremendous value and you (and they) should remember that. Your expertise has taken many years to acquire, you have the scars to prove it and is distilled for their immediate benefit. They are getting the ‘essence of you’.

Picasso knew this and there is a famous story that illustrates it. The tale goes that the maestro was lunching in New York. He was interrupted by an admirer (with money) who asked if he was available to paint their portrait. Picasso whipped out a serviette from by the side of his plate and in pencil sketched the person in a few seconds. “There”, he said, “that will be 5,000 francs”. Shocked, the subject responded that it was an outrageous amount of money for something that took only 30 seconds. “Madam, it took me my whole life” was his response.

Insight to action: Picasso had a point, but I recognise that it is more difficult to apply the approach unless your advice is something that you can frame (and thus sell to others in the future). However, if you focus on adding value at every interaction and keep a note of where this has been possible, then you will feel more confident to pull your shoulders back, hold your head up high and get the value you deserve when you have to name your price. Remember, you are worth it and if you don’t believe it, no one else will.

You are a Team Working, Extrovert Driver. I would never have guessed…

Senior professional ‘offsites’ have many benefits including getting to know your colleagues better, discussing clients in common or riffing on industry developments.

However, many of these benefits – although very real – are somewhat intangible and hard to ignite spontaneously. For example, many management teams long for greater collaboration which will result in more rounded or effective go to market propositions that can sell the whole firm. When pulling an offsite agenda together they hope that by simply getting the senior group together and having an office by office update it is going to do the trick and meet this objective. Answer: it won’t.

If management teams want to pull people together, get them to collaborate and thereby develop new opportunities to grow revenues, I think the principal challenge is one of growing trust in each other. Just as research says that a professional may need to have seven to 10 positive interactions with a prospective client before they buy, so similar levels of trust need to be present before many professionals will introduce a new colleague to their client or share a valuable (but unproven) new business idea.

Turning insight into action: Building trust in others doesn’t happen overnight (and especially not in three hours in a boutique hotel) but it’s long been known that opening yourself up a little to others is a really good way of building trust and connection. I am not suggesting that everyone immediately turns confessional, but what I have seen work really well is for attendees to complete a ‘social styles’ type profiling survey in advance. The results and a discussion on styles and what they mean for collaboration is then facilitated. It’s important that the methodology used is one that is focused on and explains how your team members like to work and what role they are best suited to when developing go to market propositions and winning client work.

As a result, you can then pair the pioneering types with those happier to deal with the details and from my experience, the resulting planning delivers a team more likely to succeed. It’s also a brilliant icebreaker for drinks in the bar: a place where valuable new business ideas are often cemented and friends for life are just as often made.

Examples of our Work

Want to win? Pick up the phone…

It seems obvious (at least to me) that if you want to win work when bidding, you need as much insight about the client’s needs as you can get.

I appreciate that in procurement-heavy tenders this may not always be easy, but even when the client is more relaxed, you’d be surprised by how few bidding firms will ask for a scoping call.

From personal experience when involved on the other side of the table, less than a quarter – sometimes much less – of the firms bidding asked to speak to the client about the project. On the most recent tender where I was involved, one of the firms that did call won the mandate. That may be a coincidence, but I don’t think so. The winner identified a key ingredient required by the client that other firms weren’t aware of. How did they know? They asked a question and the client told them.

Turning insight into action: Senior professionals often feel that they are expected to have an answer to everything and if they don’t (and thus are forced to ask questions), the prospective client will consider this a negative mark against them. To avoid asking questions, it’s easy to fall into a simple analysis of the ‘fact pattern’ when bidding, assume it’s the same as a previous bid and thus deliver a cut and paste bid response.

If you want to do one thing on your next bid which will enhance your chances of winning significantly, call your prospective client with a series of open questions. I can guarantee that the insight you gain will make your bid more relevant, more insightful and thus valuable to the recipient. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you were pitched to and recognise the lesson: no one likes to receive a cookie-cutter response and everyone likes to be listened to. So, the answer? Pick up that phone.