Legal tech companies are heading en masse to New York City next week for ALM’s Legaltech Show – now billed as LegalWeek.

Billed as the largest and most important legal technology event of the year, over 10,000 people, including decision makers from large and small law firms, will attend educational sessions and walk the exhibit halls filled with hundreds of legal tech company booths.

Tens of thousands of dollars will be spent by companies in product announcements, booths, alcohol and what not to enhance their brands and sell wares.

The wild thing is that the founders and executives of these tech companies don’t have a clue when it comes to using technology and the Internet to market and sell.

Rather than take responsibility for learning how to use the Internet for relationship building, marketing and selling, the executives hire public relations and marketing professionals to do the job for their company. Crazier yet is that those they hire usually don’t know what they are doing either.

A couple weeks ago, lawyer and legal tech entrepreneur, Zach Abramowitz @ZachAbramowitz, penned a piece in Above The Law about the challenges legal tech companies face in selling to law firms.

I meet a lot of legal tech companies, and I cannot tell you how many great products I’ve seen way which I later discover have zero meaningful traction. I’m not the only one.

Abramowitz went on to reference an interview with Mark Harris, CEO & founder of Axiom, who said:

Selling tech-only solutions into the legal industry today would be like selling a conveyer belt to a blacksmith in the late 1800s. You cannot sell the instruments of industrialization to artisans! They aren’t ready for them and have no idea what to do with them!

So, before legaltech can have its analogous fintech moment, the legal industry needs to make headway on a services-led, but tech-enabled approach to industrialization. We have to build the factories before we can embrace the tools that make the factory better!

The problem with guys like Harris (and maybe you) dissing law firms and their use of technology is that maybe you’ve done nothing to engage law firms, earn their trust and educate them. At least not in an effective fashion.

Legal tech companies coming to Legaltech sell the same way companies sold 100 years ago – through traditional marketing, advertising and sales. Virtually none of them leverage the Internet in a way that engages influencers, customers and prospective customers.

Hundreds of companies have booths at Legaltech. They are relying on websites, emails and cheesy social media to try to grab people’s attention to come to their booth.

I am getting three or four emails a day asking if I want to come by a company’s booth to meet the company’s CEO or founder. Understand that I am the CEO of my own legal tech company who just happens to blog and have some aptitude using social media.

I don’t know the company emailing me. I don’t know the CEO. In most cases, neither I nor my social media/blog followers have any interest in the company’s product.

The person sending the email doesn’t even know who I am, they are firing off random emails to a list of recipients. In the PR or marketing person’s mind I am a channel to get the company’s message out because I blog and use social media.

Though they may be selling something great, I have no reason to trust them.

One can only assume these companies are sending the same message out to lots of bloggers, reporters and influencers, all of whom know how to use the Internet to engage and build relationships. It’s almost like saying, “Yeh, I sell a tech product, but I am a total noob when it comes to using the Internet, how bad did I embarrass myself?”

So not only do the companies have to keep selling in an expensive and tiresome way, but they leave the people they ought to be connecting with wondering how innovative and tech savvy the companies really are when they don’t even know how to use the net when it comes to sales, marketing and business development.

How many of the companies have CEO’s and founders strategically and effectively blogging to build a name, develop relationships and grow business? How many of those companies will have their audience seeking them out based on the name they have built and relationships they nurtured online? Probably none.

Sales, marketing and business development is best done, or at least started, online today. Not with websites and email campaigns but through mediums being used by your customers, prospective customers and their influencers. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be used by company leaders as individuals, not by the company.

People learn about products, services and company leaders socially. They learn to trust a company, it’s leaders and their counsel through online engagement – think blogging and social networks.

Don’t get me wrong. Face to face discussion is critical to sales. But accelerating relationships and your reputation makes selling much easier.

It’s never been easier to market and sell than today. But you don’t do it the old fashioned way, or else you’ll embarrass yourself.

If you’ve read this far and you’re a legal tech exec attending LegalTech wanting to know how to leverage the Internet for marketing and social selling, drop me a note. Lunch or a drink is on me and I won’t be selling you anything.