Larry Bodine as a good post on the Law Marketing Blog called Law Firm Requires New Associates to Have Sales Background.
My reaction is that there are many potential advantages to hiring sales attorneys. The history of this approach in other professions, suggests that there are a number of hurdles to overcome to make it successful. These include:
1) Making sure that the new position is designed into the fabric of the firm and not just glued onto the side. This means that everybody’s job is affected in some way by this new approach to business getting. A firm that doesn’t note this and educate its other attorneys is likely to suffer from at least two outcomes:a) Some attorneys will think that because someone else has responsibility for sales they can abandon most of their own efforts, b) Other attorneys will freeze the new sales force out in the belief that they own certain accounts.
2) Making sure the new position and the people in it are respected members of the firm. There is a tendency for professionals to feel that anyone who doesn’t practice the profession in the traditional way is an ineffectual, contentless dweeb. The best sales attorneys will not stand for this and leave. There needs to be a career path for these people that includes partnership and practice leadership.
Also, the more movement there is between the traditional career path in the firm and the new sales career path, the better, because it reduces the them-versus-us mentality that plagues dedicated sellers in professional firms.