Achieving business goals doesn't just happen. Just ask anyone who has been hailed as an overnight success. It takes years of focus, trial and error, relationship building, and planning. By leveraging thoughtful insights and a targeted approach, attorneys can develop effective business development strategies and turn goals into real-world success.
Business development is about discovering and creating value for a company by implementing strategic initiatives to expand relationships and identify opportunities within existing and new markets.
Two of my clients, Alexander Davis of Mayer Brown and Kathryn McConnell of Littler Mendelson, shared key points for creating a workable BD plan. They both agreed that taking responsibility and focusing on helping others is the basis of success.
plan for success
Be proactive, adaptive, and client-focused when building a dynamic BD plan. Allow your plan to grow and change over time. It should be a tool that is reviewed as part of your daily routine. Strive for continuous improvement and innovation, with a willingness to adapt strategies as the market evolves.
Make better use of your company's resources and leverage experts who can assist in areas such as research, marketing strategies, obtaining client feedback, evaluating pricing information, and other areas to enhance your efforts and stay on track for success. please.
Leverage the expertise of Davis and McConnell to discuss strategies for building an effective BD plan.
Expand your networking horizons. To successfully build a network of prospects and referral sources, think beyond traditional events. “Look for non-traditional ways to engage and connect with your community,” Davis suggested. Potential customers are often found in unexpected places, such as children's sporting events, school field trips, and community and social gatherings.
Fosters ongoing customer relationships. Successful law firms do so by maintaining long-term relationships with their clients. Focus on clients who provide multiple services in-house. “By identifying the complementary legal services your clients need, you can provide them with a seamless experience while growing your business,” he said. Make this an active part of your BD plan and include the name and date of the referral. Be an active participant in conversations with customers and be open to opportunities that may arise for others in your company.
Use data analytics and competitive intelligence. Lawyers need to stay well-informed about the industries they serve and emerging trends. Thorough market research is essential. “Stay up to date on legislative changes, technological advancements, and changes in the legal landscape that may impact your client's business,” he advised Davis. Leverage tools to gather insights into market trends, customer preferences, and competitor strategies. Many companies have competitive intelligence experts who can assist with this process. This information guides decision-making and helps effectively position the company and its operations within the market.
Gather feedback from clients. Regularly solicit input from customers to understand satisfaction levels, identify areas for improvement, and discover new value opportunities. McConnell regularly solicits candid feedback from clients and, when appropriate, provides third-party interviews to solicit candid feedback. This effort has allowed us to tailor our services to address specific client needs and concerns and troubleshoot potential issues.
Create a client-centric BD roadmap. Define clear goals and strategies. “Focus on relationship-building activities, speaking engagements, publishing thought-provoking leadership content, and engaging with potential customers through social media platforms,” Davis suggested. Establishing thought leadership and showcasing your expertise will help you build trust with existing and potential customers.
Track your efforts. For each activity you engage in, consider what will happen next and who needs to be involved. McConnell created a chart to track client reach, preferences, and next steps. We also included dates and notes to ensure proper follow-up to maintain and grow the relationship. Similarly, Mr. Davis will continue to use the company's technology tools to support this effort and accomplish his mission.
Synergize your relationship with your customers. One of the best ways to strengthen your connection with your clients is to support them in their personal or professional endeavors. Mr. McConnell regularly identifies clients who could mutually benefit from a personal or professional connection and creates opportunities for interaction through corporate events and seminars.
Achieving your version of overnight success requires putting in a lot of thought, effort, and intentionality. First, build or modify your BD plan with a focus on supporting others, establishing accountability, and tracking efforts.
Jamaican runner Usain Bolt said, “I trained for four years to run in nine seconds.'' This same mindset should be applied to any goal that doesn't yield immediate results and requires consistent, dedicated effort. Patience is key, so don't forget to stop and celebrate small wins along the way.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg Industry Group, Inc., the publisher of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Tax, or its owners.
Heather McCullough is co-founder of Society 54, a consulting firm for professional services firms, and co-founder of Society Tech, a technology software company for marketing and business development teams.
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