In Professional Services Marketing & BD — Who is the Center of the Universe?

In Professional Services Marketing & BD - Who is the Center of the Universe?

by Kelvin H. Chin, MA, JD

Legal Business Development Consultant


Ask yourself — are you the Center of the Universe?

Sound esoteric...too “out there” a question?

I hope that by the time you finish reading this short essay, you will think differently.

Look, you may not be the actual “center of the Universe,” but that’s not the point. This is not an exercise in astrophysics. This is an important FIRST step in being an effective marketer and business developer in any area of the professional services industry…or arguably in even ANY industry for that matter.

What do I mean by that?

Think about it. We all — each of us — if we are being truly candid, honest, no BS — think of ourselves as the center of the universe. In other words, it is all about ME. I don’t mean that in an egotistical or selfish way. Don’t get me wrong. I mean it in the most practical, fundamental, “how-we-are-wired” way.

We all look out for ourselves. And I would argue that is not a bad thing. It is reality — AND who better to look out for our own self-interests than each of us? So, I think recognizing that reality is the first step to effective marketing and business development.

Each of us looks out for our own self-interests. The WIIFME (“What’s In It For Me”) moniker is accurate and not a bad thing.

It’s only a bad thing when we do it to extreme and harm others — either mentally, emotionally or physically — in the process. But otherwise, it is not a bad thing, and acknowledging and accepting it can give us a leg up on our competition.

Because if we embrace its reality, then we can put all our energies into figuring out HOW to make that other person, that prospective client of ours, feel as if they are — albeit temporarily — the center of OUR universe too. 

And how will that make them feel? Pretty awesome, right? So, STEP ONE of my “12 Mantras of Legal Sales” accomplished — they like us.

Then, we can get on with determining the WHAT we need to do to continue to keep their positive attention on us. How do we do that? We figure out what their most pressing NEEDS are, what their “hot button” needs are. And we focus on that.

By asking them questions on THEIR business (or personal) needs, we subconsciously remind them that we “get it.” We get that they are the center of their universe, and we are here to help them. We underscore to them that we understand that the universe DOES revolve around them (at least from their perspective), and without their even realizing it, they are drawn in by us. We deepen our professional relationship with them on levels that transcend mere business provisions. We are bonding with them. They are beginning the process of “trusting” us.

Now, you might be thinking, “Isn’t this just manipulating the other person?” And I would say, Yes and No. It is not manipulating in the bad sense — we are not simply toying with someone for our own pleasure and fun. We are, however, acting more consciously using our knowledge of human thinking to help us meet both our interests AND the prospective client’s interests. And I see nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would argue that not using our insights and not expanding our knowledge would be doing a disservice to both ourselves and our prospective clients.

Yet, yes, there needs to be a genuineness that accompanies this consultative needs-based marketing and business development. No doubt. 

And that’s where caring and compassion comes in. If you are genuine about wanting to improve and enhance the business (and personal) life of your client, that will come through in how you communicate. They will recognize that in your candor, clarity and directness.

So then your mission to put THEM at the center of the universe will be complete. With a substantive meeting of the needs they expressed to you, a material meeting of those “hot button” needs — you will have landed that new client, closed the sale.

Then, by doing an outstanding job on the execution of the deliverable to the client, you will have grown and begun to cement that Trust in your relationship with them.

But, where did it all start?

By recognizing and capitalizing on the reality that we each are the center of our own universe(s).


  • Kelvin H. Chin has had a 30-year career in professional sales and marketing. In the early 2000’s he was one of the first sales professionals ever hired full-time by an AmLaw100 firm, becoming its first Chief Business Development and Marketing Officer. After law school, he was an associate at Choate Hall & Stewart, then later as its Regional Vice President created the American Arbitration Association’s first sales team in its 70-year history, supervising a staff of 50 and 1,000 lawyer-arbitrators in its largest regional office in Los Angeles, leading to the turnaround of this $20 million operation. He is a graduate of Dartmouth, Yale Graduate School, and Boston College Law. He can be reached at