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Relationship vs. Engagement

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In the world of Professional Services, relationships make or break your Business Development efforts. I was in a Business Development seminar last year and my friend Jim said something that really resonated: "Most of us in this room work for law firms that are really good at what they do, have offices in the same cities, and charge similar rates. How is the prospect going to choose? Well, they are going to choose the firm that they want to work with." Wait, how would I know that they want to work with us? Is this something that I can gauge or measure?

What is a Relationship?

There are many scenarios that make up a relationship. But how can we use data to measure this? You could assume that having a contact in your Outlook/Phone address book means you have a relationship with that contact. Or maybe you look at your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system for the Originating Professional. I’ve seen firms that have Relationship Professionals marked in their CRM. Or maybe, we can look at who sponsored a contact on the last holiday card. Lastly, which I am sure always works, let’s look at LinkedIn. In these cases, I must ask, "how relevant or recent is this relationship?" Could the relationship now be stale today? Think of the hundreds or thousands of contacts in your Outlook... have you reached out to all of them recently? How well do you really know everyone who is linked in with you?

What is Engagement?

If you recently reached out to a contact, you recently engaged that contact. If I call you or send you a few emails, I would say that we are engaged or in the beginning stages of being engaged. Maybe we have a past relationship listed above, but maybe not. Potentially, I am an associate beginning to work with a client who the Originating/Relationship professional brought in. How can we use data to measure this? ERM (Enterprise Relationship Management) is probably one of the most effective ways of doing so. ERM systems look at Exchange and phone call activities to calculate communication patterns.

How to leverage the two?

There is a lot we can do around the understanding of engagement. Are you in contact or engaged (firm wide) with a top client? How engaged are you with a prospect or client you are responding to a RFP with? If engagement is low, do you really have a strong chance of winning? Also, if the RFP is for an existing client, would having a stronger engagement avoided a RFP request? Are you highly engaged with the client putting forward the RFP, and if not, is the potentially stale relationship owner in the firm the best person to ask for an introduction? Understanding engagement is an extremely powerful tool that can measure our standing with clients today, to both grow and protect revenue.

Everyone is different when it comes to interpreting what a relationship or engagement means and how they can leverage it. With Lexis InterAction, it is our job to provide you with all the data to make the best decision within the confines of your culture. At a fundamental level, knowing who knows whom and who is engaged with whom gives you a good idea of the contact network, but this, along with the intelligence that InterAction provides in terms of depth and strength of relationships is what is invaluable and can be leveraged for business advantage.

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:


Scott Winter is the Enterprise Client Engagement Manager for LexisNexis InterAction, and has been part of LexisNexis since 2006. With over 10 years of sales, consulting, and product management experience, Scott has proven success understanding the market, leading projects, re-engineering processes and workflows to improve revenues, margins, and workplace productivity for local businesses and Fortune Global 500 companies.

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