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How to Become a Rainmaker with Steve Fretzin

George Grombacher May 20, 2022

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How to Become a Rainmaker with Steve Fretzin

LifeBlood: We talked about how to become a rainmaker, what professionals can do to consistently bring in business, the skills which are required, and the mindset and processes to be implemented, with Steve Fretzin, author, podcast host and coach.  

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Steve Fretzin

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on Well, Blippo This is George G. And the time is right to welcome today’s guest strong, powerful, Steve frets. And Steve, are you ready to do this? Let’s go. Let’s go. Steve is playing crash survivor. He’s a four time author, a podcast host, and he is working tirelessly to help attorneys be that lawyer that brings in the business. Steve, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do.

Steve Fretzin 0:35
Yeah, no problem. I appreciate you having me, George, the, the family’s terrific. We live in the north shore of Chicago, my son’s going to one of the best high schools in the state, my wife’s a teacher, I was just telling you, before we got on that my son I are always fishing, that’s just our thing, we just have get amazing quality time going out fishing, as often as we will allow, he wants to fish mostly through the winter. But that’s, you know, insane, he bought ice fishing equipment. And did that this this winter. From a business perspective, as you mentioned, I’ve been a full time author, I have a podcast and I’m always working with attorneys from around the country who are ambitious and hungry and looking to grow business. They just don’t have the processes and the Met and the planning and the sort of the, you know, the steps to take to grow their law practices. So I stepped into the industry in 2008. And I’ve been hustling ever since to really help every attorney that’s that’s highly motivated to hit the hidden achieve their goals, most importantly, to internalize how they do business development or sales, as some people call it to be sustainable through their career. So it’s really like someone getting an MBA in business development, which I just love doing. It’s a lot of fun.

george grombacher 1:45
Nice. I think that you said ambitious a couple of times, that is a requirement.

Steve Fretzin 1:51
Yeah, I mean, they, you know, Coach player, the coach can coach the players got to play and if I don’t have an attorney that and I push people away all the time, because if you’re not going to play, if you’re not going to, you know, come to class, if you’re not going to meet with me regularly, if you’re not going to do the work on the field, then we’re not going to get the results. And this is going to end up being a failure before we start. So I’m really only working with about 30 attorneys a year. But they’re all highly motivated, as I mentioned and ambitious and interested in in taking things to the next level.

george grombacher 2:20
Nice. I appreciate the you know, I I know from my personal experience of trying to help people who are not interested necessarily in being helped. It’s a it is an exercise in frustration. Certainly, yeah, I appreciate that. Alright, so planning processes, we we need the steps, and we need to make this sustainable. So what is the best entry point there?

Steve Fretzin 2:47
Well, I mean, just just to give the overview, I mean, if you think about what makes somebody great at something that could be being a chef, that could be a musician, that could be an athlete, it could be an executive, it usually involves some planning and you know, to kind of get the direction have that GPS pointing you in the right direction in some way that track that what you’re doing is actually working, you’re seeing the results, you’re seeing the progress, you’re not making the same mistakes, and then having processes to follow. So even if I’m a football player might, you know, my team is giving me plays in business development, I’m giving people process, here’s how you effectively network, here’s how you effectively walk a buyer through a buying decision without selling without convincing, really soft skills. And then there’s some element of performance improvement where we again, we try something, it works great, let’s repeat it, it doesn’t work. Let’s see why. And let’s try to make those improvements. And that’s really the secret sauce. And it’s not secret I’m telling you right now, but executing on that with plan and process and improvement. Most coaches don’t do all of that they they do mostly coaching, which is, you know, how was your day? What did you do? What didn’t you do? Why didn’t you do it? I’m also including a lot of skills building in my program to ensure that they’re getting all those plays all those processes and internalizing them. So it’s, that’s really the recipe that I’m seeing. And then of course, keeping someone’s attitude and belief in themselves really high. And I work with people that are highly stressed attorneys can be highly stressed, highly overworked, and we have to figure out a way to get through some of those barriers as a stepping stone to ensure that we we get accomplished what we want to accomplish.

george grombacher 4:21
Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s it’s fascinating in in a reality for a lot of us is we already have a ton on our plate. And now I am being asked or wanting to do something which is new, and that I’m not comfortable with. I’m an expert at the law. I’m revered, I’m a leader. And now I’m doing this and if it’s not working, then I’m going to stop doing it.

Steve Fretzin 4:46
Yeah, you want it you want to see that progress. And most attorneys out there and most people in general, you know, just just try something and just wing it and just go after and again that through sheer force and effort and through trial and error and hopefully making improvements people are very successful. However, we all know that through coaching, mentoring advisory that you can shortcut some of those things. It’s like, my son is a diver. And if he just said, I’m going to start diving and just start jumping off the board, it’s not gonna look real great. But he’s got a coach on his team that tells him, you know, you got to keep your feet together, and you have to try it again, do it this way, do it that way. And then you see those incremental improvements, literally, with diving, you get graded, right on a one to 10. So he sees a scores going up, he knows that he’s learning and improving, and we just want to do that so we can get there faster and more efficiently.

george grombacher 5:32
Yeah, I appreciate that. So from a skills building standpoint, that um, just it’s it’s meeting new people, and obviously, then having a process of of sales, but nobody wants to feel salesy. And I imagine that most attorneys aren’t interested in being perceived as salespeople.

Steve Fretzin 5:53
Yeah, I mean, in fact, you can’t find an attorney that said, Hey, I can’t wait to go to law school. So I can start selling legal services, right. I mean, that’s not, that’s not happening, in fact that the most common phrase I hear is they never taught me this in law school. And they really don’t. In fact, I speak with law schools all over the country. And they look at their deer in the headlights when I when I talk to them about relationship building networking, things that they’re LinkedIn things that they’re going to have to start focusing on, or should already be focusing on. And so it really, it really comes down to the idea that my first book, for example, is called sales, free selling. And it’s a story about a coach who works with a number of different folks, one being an attorney. And he teaches them that sells selling, convincing, pushing, pitching, those are all outdated approaches to getting business, what is a much better approach, and we need to change ourselves. And we need to also change the way the buyers mindset is, is to walk a buyer through a buying decision through relationship building, through setting agendas, through asking questions and qualifying that there’s a good fit. And so it makes it all the entire engagement about the other person about the buyer. So they don’t feel like they’re being sold, because they’re not. And we learn a lot more so that when we do have to give a presentation or give a proposal, we know exactly what they need want what’s going to fill, fill that void and get it across the finish line. And it’s just it’s not rocket science, which by the way is my most recent book, business development isn’t rocket science. It isn’t. But it isn’t easy. And it isn’t. It’s something that people can just figure out on their own for the most part. So so it is a learned skill. However, it’s something that has to some effort has to be put towards it.

george grombacher 7:32
Yeah, yeah. There’s no doubt about that. All right. So helping them to, to embrace that. And then being able to identify the, these, these these targets, if it is getting out. And well, what are sort of those preferred fishing holes for lack of a better reason? Am I joining the Bar Association? Am I what were? What are they?

Steve Fretzin 7:59
So the first thing I do with any attorney that I meet with for like a free initial meeting is to ask a lot of questions and identify not only where their gaps are, their issues are, but also where their low hanging fruit might be hiding. So some if you can imagine like, there’s a table that has stacks and stacks of money on it. And this lawyer that I’m talking to has literally been not literally figuratively been walking around that table literally would be would be painful. But they walk around that money all the time. And the reason is, is they don’t have the, again, the plan or the process to go into it and actually gather it up. So we’ll talk about Bar Association’s we’ll talk about networking, we’ll talk about presenting. But if I find that that attorney has a ton of past and existing clients, if I find that they’ve got a lot of deep relationships in the community, there, they’ve been in politics, they’ve been on a board, they’ve done things where they’ve developed these relationships, that’s almost always going to be where that low hanging fruit is. These are the people that will advocate that will give business that will introduce, and you’re not out meeting strangers and developing a relationship from nothing. You’re meeting with people that are already on your team, you just have to make the ask and pointed in the right direction. And again, that’s where most lawyers just they don’t have the language, they don’t have the mindset of how to do it and feel okay about it. They are in the friendzone. Right, and they don’t want to ask their friends for things. However, that’s where the business might be. So I’m teaching lawyers how to ask in a way that isn’t salesy. That doesn’t make it pushy, in some cases makes it feel like the friends idea. And that’s how we want to approach things. And from there, we might look at things like cross marketing, like if you’re in a full service firm, your partners have all these clients. They’re not doing intellectual property work, which is what you do, but you haven’t even tapped into those companies, those lawyers and those companies that could just feed you all that work. So we always want to look at where the where the money is where the low hanging fruit is. And then if that doesn’t exist, then yeah, we have to go down down the spectrum to networking, presenting, writing things to help Build brand and things to get out there meet people and start, start figuring out who’s a good fit.

george grombacher 10:05
I think that that makes a ton of sense. How often is the solution right in front of them.

Steve Fretzin 10:12
So it’s not always right in front of them, I think, you know, my job is to is to provide that clarity of what is in front of them. And to explain to them, you know, that this is not going to be if you follow direction, this is not going to be hard to get from a half a million to a million, or from 250 to 500, whatever the next step is for them in their growth and projection. And then there’s other people like, let’s say, someone that’s been working as a general counsel at a company decides that she wants to go into private practice. So not a lot of relationships, not a lot, you make no progress. No, no, no clients, no experience, you know, just experience in that space, that starting from the ground up, well, that’s going to be a much more challenging assignment and not an undoable one. Can we get to 100 200,000 in a year, so that bills are paid income is there it cetera? That’s the goal, but it’s going to be a much more challenging assignment that someone who has everything in front of them just doesn’t know it or hasn’t been able to achieve it?

george grombacher 11:05
Yeah, yeah, that certainly makes sense. And what a wonderful example, obviously, well, it’s not obvious. But if I’ve been a community member for 20 years, and I’m part of a law firm, where I’ve partners, then there are maybe a lot of opportunities versus somebody who is in the corporate counsel position, and now they’re hanging their own shingle. So I appreciate the the different opportunities and challenges that are there. How do you think about digital marketing?

Steve Fretzin 11:28
I think it’s important, the way I see things is that business development is one side of a hill and marketing, digital marketing is the other side of the hill. And if you can do them both, effectively, they support each other at the top. So for example, and I’m just using my I’ll use myself, you know, my social media is non stop, I’m posting once twice a day, I’m posting great content, I’m not selling anything. It’s all educational, it’s polls, it’s asking, it’s engaging, it’s trying to get people to talk with me about things that are relevant in their space. And putting up YouTube videos, the podcast, I mean, it’s it’s constant. While that’s happening, I’m also out networking, running networking events, engaging new people all the time. And so again, that that meets me if that meets me up here at the peak. And so the marketing supports that business development effort. And when you do those two properly, you end up with a really good result. And some people, it takes them a long time to get on social. And again, it’s not for everybody in every situation. But for lawyers, for example, even just becoming reasonably good at using LinkedIn, which for most lawyers, especially if they’re in the b2b space, that’s going to be a great tool for branding, that’s going to be a great tool for engagement, to meet new general counsel’s new CEOs, other lawyers that can be referral partners. And they’re just like that LinkedIn is just a waste of time or LinkedIn isn’t for me. Well, let’s let’s let’s look at that. Let’s explore that and see where that might be, again, another gap that we need to fill,

george grombacher 12:55
what a superhuman thing to say, right? That’s just not for me. So we totally dismiss this huge, massive medium as it’s not for me.

Steve Fretzin 13:03
Yeah, but I but I get it, you know, if somebody has been loaded with business in the past, or somebody is just not digital marketing savvy, or just is, you know, again, we’re all afraid of the unknown. I mean, if you ask me to climb a mountain, I would be pretty darn scared of it. Right? Because I’ve never climbed a mountain before, right. So for some lawyers, and for people listening in general, I mean, LinkedIn can feel like a mountain. And so we need to break it down and simplify it. And I do that all the time with my clients, and I’ve got videos on YouTube, I’ve been teaching LinkedIn for probably 16 years before people were even on it. So I’m pretty, pretty effective at using it as a business development tool and as a branding tool. And so I just am constantly pushing my clients to add that to their mix of how they’re going to support their brand and in stand out in a crowded marketplace.

george grombacher 13:48
And how do you talk about or think about sustainability? Structuring in how how do you think about that?

Steve Fretzin 13:56
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s all about a rinse and repeat. So we have to, you know, plan to get business we have to use process to get business All right, now we’ve got the business now we have to have another way of maintaining it. So I put together for my clients help them put together either a strategic partner loyalty plan or a client loyalty plan. And this is essentially a way to stay top of mind and stay in touch with your clients. And I break it into ABC so A’s are like your best clients best relationship these are middle of the road meet need improvement, and c’s are kind of hey, I, you know, spent $1,000 on my lawyer, you know, five years ago, it’s it’s so there’s not as much meat on the bone. So I’ll say hey, for the A’s you need to do these five or we will agree I don’t tell them that we agree on things. But But here are the five things you need to do with them every week, every month throughout the year, okay, sending them business, sending them information that’s relevant to their job relevant to their family, inviting them to come to events, inviting them to play golf, whatever it might be. The bees get a little less in the C’s get a little less, some things can be automated. Right. So if you have a newsletter, that’s a way to keep in touch, if you have social media, that’s a way to keep in touch. So there’s like a baseline of what you can do for everybody. But then as you move up the food chain of the better clients and the clients where there’s more work, more referrals, that’s where you want to be even more top of mind and staying closer touch. So helping them put together a way of sustaining those relationships is another piece of the puzzle.

george grombacher 15:22
Makes sense? So nobody wants to be salesy. But I see behind you, it says, Be that lawyer, and I included that in the in the intro, how important is it that an attorney wants to become or have that identity as the Rainmaker that I’m bringing in business.

Steve Fretzin 15:42
So it’s, it’s maybe the second most important thing that a lawyer could do or should do in his or her career. So number one, be a great lawyer, if you’re a terrible lawyer, it doesn’t, you’re never going to be that lawyer. Because you’re going to lose clients, you’re going to lose friends, no one’s going to want to refer you you have to be great. Once you become great as a lawyer, the next most important thing is having a book of business, what they call a book of business or originations in the legal space, essentially, that’s having the business, the clients, your own clients. Now, why is it important for a lawyer to have his or her own clients? Well, that’s where the freedom to control the money, the things you can work on. Right, George’s is is getting to that spot. And think about it if all you do is Bill hours for other attorneys clients, and those clients go away, those attorneys leave, the firm gets bought, your hours, could drop, and you could be out of a job, you could be out of your money, you could be in a pickle, and I’ve got lawyers in their 50s. And in some cases in their 60s that still have many years left to play, and work on the law. And they don’t know where to get business from because they’ve never done it. So it’s the most the most effective way to be secure in your role. You want to go out on your own, you’ve got a million dollar book, well, there you go. Bring your associate with you bring your paralegal with you. And now you’re opening up your own shop, you’ve got a million dollar book, you got lots of revenue to pay everybody to handle overhead and you’re on your own, you want to move to another firm because your firm’s culture sucks, you can move to another firm, you’ve got a million dollar book, you can go anywhere you want. So that’s what has become a big part of the legal space. And it still amazes me how many lawyers are hiding under the table, not wanting to look this dead in the eye and realize that this is not something that you’d have to know about. It’s something you have to take action on. And whether they hire me or not, that’s not a plug for my for my business. I will help lawyers in any way I can video books, articles, you know, podcast, you name it, but they have to do something. And if they’re not, they’re really putting themselves at risk.

george grombacher 17:40
Make sense? Well, Steve, that was a good one that people are ready for difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Steve Fretzin 17:45
If difference making tip I’m going to steal from the Midwest, former coach of the Green Bay Packers, and that is the saying practice makes perfect. We’ve heard that our whole lives and Vince Lombardi coined. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. So what does that mean? What’s the difference? It’s the fact that if you’re if you’re just practicing things improperly and incorrectly, you’re really not getting better. But if you practice and improve, practice and improve practice and improve because you’re getting feedback are you understand what you need to look for in order to make those improvements. That’s when real change happens. That’s when real growth can occurs. And whether you’re trying to win the blue ribbon at the chili contest. You can’t keep making the same chili, you’ve got to put something different in it and taste it oh, that’s better. Well, then keep doing it. If it’s worse, make take it out. And that’s life. That’s life in general. We don’t want to live that humdrum life. We want to live a better life. And we’ve got to continue to practice perfectly. Whether that’s in relationships, business, fishing, sports, cooking, whatever. That’s a great, great lesson learned from the great Vince Lombardi. Well, I

george grombacher 18:50
think that is great stuff that definitely gets a con. Did you just as a Bears fan, Steve compliment packers coach.

Steve Fretzin 18:58
So here’s the interesting thing. I’m not a Bears fan. I’m not a Bulls fan. I’m not a Cubs fan. I am not really watching sports. I’m engaging in playing sports. And I also know that this is this was a comedian said this that you’re rooting for your team because the guys are wearing the same jerseys. One might be from Toronto, New York, Houston, they’re all playing in Chicago. They’re all from different places. So they’re all just wearing the same jersey. So I don’t know like how much I buy into like cheering for my home team. I think I did when Michael Jordan was in his prime in the bowls and all that, but I’m an older, more mature, more thoughtful person may be and I just I find that I’d rather play sports and get exercise and sit and watch them on TV. That’s just me though. Fair

george grombacher 19:37
enough. I love it. Well, Steve, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage? Where can they get the books? The podcast? Oh, yeah.

Steve Fretzin 19:45
So the podcast is available on all major channels. It’s called be that lawyer. I’ve done about 170 episodes in two years. I’m doing two shows a week bringing on the most amazing guests in the legal profession. I’ve got this new book up on Amazon. As I mentioned, legal business development is isn’t rocket science, it’s 50 Plus chapters of my best hits, best articles. And if people want to get in touch with me directly, they can go to my website frets and comm F RETZIN. On there you’ll see I only have two deliverables and MBA style coaching and training program. I also run peer advisory groups where I put lawyers in a room together on in a confidential environment, let them hash out their needs, their issues, their best practices together. That seems to be a really popular program, but happy to talk with any lawyer that’s ambitious and interested in growth. Whether you work with me or don’t, I will be a resource for you.

george grombacher 20:35
Love it. If you enjoyed this as much as I did, just leave your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas check out the be that lawyer podcast where you check out your podcasts, pick up a copy of legal business development isn’t rocket science. And then finally go to frets It’s fr et z i Thanks again, Steve. Thanks, George. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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