What is the key distinction between the real estate agent giving you a tour of a home and a telemarketer who calls you at 7:03 p.m.? The real estate agent and you have an appointment, and you have each other's undivided attention. Because this moment was planned, you are not being asked to multi-task as you hear the pitch. The homeowner has had some time to bake some cookies and put the vacuum cleaner marks in the carpet. When the telemarketer calls, you are cooking dinner, changing a diaper, watching SportsCenter, and trying to prevent your other child from leaping from the couch to the loveseat over the top of your glass coffee table.
Don't be the telemarketer. If you wait for the arraignment or calendar call, arrive at 8:57 a.m., get behind the other 30 lawyers in line to talk to the prosecutor who has seven crates of files open, don't expect your pitch to work. Your "customer" is too stressed, unfocused, frustrated, and uninformed to engage in any meaningful conversation with you. You will get twenty seconds of the prosecutor's attention, and fifteen of those seconds will be spent fishing the file out of the crate.
Be the real estate agent. Visit the prosecutor at her office at a time when no court is happening and when you have meaningful time to talk. Give the prosecutor a tour of your home. Show her the things about your client not captured in her file. Bring pictures of your client with family, letters from the community. Describe the square footage -- the number of days he has been in rehab, the number of AA meetings he attended, and the number of years he has been at his job. Cookies in the oven? Have her imagine closing out this file.
Most importantly, meet the "customer" where she can single-task.
The good news is that most of your colleagues will be standing in that line and getting their client the deal written inside the prosecutor's folder.
Be the agent not the telemarketer,