In a recent post in his excellent blog What About Clients?, Dan Hull wrote this:
See, for example, IBM's website or anything written about IBM in recent years if you don't believe me; they are no longer just a hardware, equipment or products giant--but a "services company", and perhaps the world's largest. IBM sells solutions. Selling and leasing IBM products are just part of those solutions. So IBM's success or failure will depend on managing relationships and how its customers, clients and partners at all levels experience those services.
Sometimes business development is a process of learning the same thing over and over and over. That's not because anyone's slow, it's because they're trying to modify behavior. Think of it as training. Tiger Woods hits 200 8-irons a day not because he doesn't understand, but because he's trying to alter deeply ingrained habits and patterns.
And the thing this post calls to mind is the constant need to remind lawyers who are marketing that what they are selling is not legal services. They're selling a solution to their customer's problem, which, in some way, will make the customer more money.
There's a great anecdote that neatly summarizes a lot of this. Several years ago, a consultant was presenting to Black & Decker, the power tool company. At one point, he held up one of their drills, and asked "Do you sell this?" The audience, all senior executives, nodded. The consultant responded "No, you don't." The audience looked confused. The consultant then reached into his briefcase and pulled out a small piece of wood with a hole drilled in it. "This is what you sell," he said. He was right. The hole is what the customer wants. The drill is simply how Black & Decker happens to make it.
Lawyers sell holes.