On February 11, no one outside the dog-show world knew of “Banana Joe,” the affenpinscher who won Westminster Dog Show’s platinum crown – “Best in Show.” On Wednesday, the five-year-old super-pooch was ubiquitous, appearing on all the major networks and in every major online and print news publication.

Jason Gay, the popular sports writer for the Wall Street Journal, penned an article entitled “Longtime Listener, First-Time Barker” on February 14, in the style of a call-in radio show. The script features “calls” from listeners named Snickers, Biscuit and Peanut Butter, among others, who happen to be Labrador retrievers.

The Labs are in an uproar about losing at Westminster year after year, especially in light of their dominance in the popular vote. (They make the point that Labs are the number-one most popular dog in America – the most-owned and -trusted canine among all breeds.) Dog after dog gets on the line whining about how unfair this is – they even wonder if they should hire Phil Jackson to help turn it around for them. 

Then Banana Joe calls and weighs in. When asked, “…what do you make of this whole Lab controversy?,” he says, “Champions win. Talkers talk … I am sick and tired of the Labs just whining on Westminster. Same goes for the golden retrievers, too. All they do is talk…”

How does this apply to lawyers and law firms? There is more talk among lawyers about business development and rainmaking than there is actual rainmaking. I do advocate effective planning, and not going out willy-nilly to try to expand your client base. But if lawyers spent more time doing it and less time talking about it, I know their success rates would be greater. 

Too much planning and talking is paralyzing. It sabotages the self-confidence that a lawyer needs to effectively engage in a conversation that will matter to a client or prospect. Find out what truly concerns your buyers, what their horizon issues are; hear their opportunities and challenges. The best rainmakers know how to gently guide and facilitate this discussion – with very little talking – so the person making or influencing the buying decision feels the lawyer’s authenticity and sees the legal brainpower uniquely applied to their issues. 

Let the prospect do the talking, and you get to be the champion.

Deborah McMurray is the CEO and strategy architect of Content Pilot LLC, a marketing strategy and technology company that serves the legal industry (www.contentpilot.net). Visit her Law Firm 4.0 Blog or contact her at mcmurray@contentpilot.net.