Most lawyers agree that business development is essential to the vitality of their firm. Despite the frequent conversation about the need for new business and the large budget allocated to business development (typically 2.5% to 4.5% of gross revenues), most firms want better results. Since small to midsized firms are typically built around relatively few books of business, these firms are right to recognize the importance of business development and to focus on those fundamentals that bring them success.
Smart firms encourage their successful business developers to translate their success into a blueprint for others to follow. Lawyers at all levels benefit from a system for business development that is built around their individual capabilities.
Here are few helpful business development fundamentals:
- Successful lawyers recognize the need to constantly develop new business, especially when busy with existing client work. These lawyers avoid developing a false sense of security and understand that one settled case or change in a client relationship can change fortunes in a day. Here is a handy tool for staying focused on marketing for the remainder of 2017.
- Lawyers and firms should consider the effectiveness of existing business development methods. Lawyers are quick to reduce marketing to entertainment. In-person contact is an important aspect of business development especially when coupled with an expanded activity plan. Here is a resource to expand your marketing scope.
- Clients choose lawyers for their own reasons. Learn what these reasons are and why they are so important to the prospective client. Lawyers who understand the way a client thinks will be better able to connect with the client and enjoy a higher success rate. A good market research program is a unique and valuable tool. Consider these reasons for investing in market research.
- Plan client calls and allow time for substantive conversation centered on a client’s issues. The elements of a substantive conversation include impact, resolution and success evaluation. Lawyers who can demonstrate that they truly understand a client’s issues are better able to project themselves as part a solution. I have created a client call map that I like to use before and after client calls. You may find it useful.
- Recognize that part of the marketing budget should be allocated to training and education in business development. Proper training will increase the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Firms that expand the definition of marketing have an advantage. Here is a budget template that I find useful when seeking funding for client marketing plans.
Business development includes both a marketing and a sales effort. Firm marketing provides the foundation and credibility for a lawyer to procure new business. Procuring new business in a law firm environment requires a sophisticated sales approach. Planning and training services for lawyers is available and invaluable to those making a sincere effort.