We’ve all been there: you’ve got a fantastic idea that you know is going to save your law firm a bundle of bucks but it may take some buy-in from your law firm leadership.

I know that a couple of us know that scenario from the marketing side: having to respond to RFPs from clients. We probably all have used some sort of proposal software, written the proverbial “About Us” page and passed it on to a partner to deliver to a potential client.

But just how do you sell your own lawyers on investing in their own firm? Well, according to Steve Tobak, coach to technology CEOs, you’ve got to learn to tell a better story.

First, know your audience. For me that means figuring out what kind of learner the lawyer is: do they do better with words, visuals or numbers? Are they analytical, big picture, or intuitive?

Next, tell the attorney:

  1. why should he should care
  2. what’s in it for him, and 
  3. what’s the criteria for determining whether is this a good idea or not.

Now that’s the set-up for your story.

Tobak says if you can satisfy all three of these criteria, especially the last one, you are half-way there.

Now, the story itself.

In your situation, you are trying to get the lawyer to buy in to a new business process, new software, a new something. So you have to tell them a story about how this new system has worked in another law firm or department, with tremendous success.

For example, I like to tell the story about how my social media efforts led to new relationships with several new contacts in my industry and have developed into full-blown working relationships.

Tobak then talks about delivery, or what I would call personality. Be friendly, confident, loose. Don’t over-work the request with charts, stats and slide presentations (I tend to do this, so do what I say and not what I do!).

Then, at the end, don’t forget to close the deal. Now this can be hard because you’ve got to get them to make a commitment. So you need to decide what you want them to decide. Do you want a new color printer?

Then ask for it.

But do give the lawyer an out, or at least, some leeway. You don’t want to make the lawyer feel like a heal for turning you down–you still have to work with the guy and you want to be able to go back to him. And make sure and ask when you can ask again.

So, in the end, telling a story isn’t about spinning something out of whole cloth. Instead, it is a strategy that takes careful planning.