Let’s play word association.
I say: “July or August”
You say: “Vacations, people out, summertime”
Top legal officers say: “Next year’s budgets, end of year results, and adjust for the 2nd half of the year”
Large clients are thinking about next year’s budget right now. Many have submitted their first drafts to management. Your clients are learning how their company’s 4th quarter will play out—and any changes in plans/priorities which may result. They are integrating the unplanned events which popped up earlier this year while predicting surprises yet to come. All in addition to their day jobs.
This is your chance.
Engage your clients by asking questions and providing answers. Offer perspective on the budget trends you see at other clients—are they flat, headed up, or headed down? These insights are valued and hard to come by. Clients use your insight to manage their management and their budgets. Here are the questions we find most effective:
1. When do you submit your 2019 budget?
2. Are you working on your 2019 budget? (If already submitted—how was it received, do you need to make any changes?)
3. How is your budget performance looking for this year?
4. What were the big surprises this year?
5. What do you think they will be next year?
6. Are there any changes in management pressures or goals for the second half of the year?
7. What can I do to help you meet your year-end goal?
And maybe don’t ask the last question—act instead. Offer the following:
- Help triage priorities for the year
- A 2nd-year associate to help with leg work
- Perspective on changes your clients are making to headcount, AFAs, technology, and training
The really bold can offer up some fixed fees for specified portions of your client’s caseload or work in the new year.
Summer is one of the best times to start locking in future work and help where clients need it now.