When it comes to BD lawyers and accountants can’t have bad pizza

There is no such thing as bad pizza…or so the saying goes. Having experienced pizza that would challenge this claim, I am not so sure. However, it got me thinking whether the same can be said about a lawyer or accountant’s BD.

Is there such thing as bad BD? I don’t think there is.  Any interaction with clients, referrers, and professional contacts has to be positive but let’s take closer look …

Firstly, we need to demystify business development and explain the vital role it plays in protecting and growing law firms, accountants, barrister chambers, architects and patent and trade mark attorneys’ practices.

5 BD myths for lawyers and accountants

When it comes to business development there are 5 myths we can shatter once and for all here today:

1. Business development is all about networking

There are a multitude of ways lawyers and accountants can do BD.  Networking is just one. You can also create content, do a bit of public speaking, do the desk research for your networkers, writers and presenters or get more actively involved social media.

2. Networking is all about formal networking events

Networking doesn’t have to be related to an event.  It can be done much more informally 1on1 over a coffee, a beer or a glass of wine.

3. You win work by doing events

Done properly BD is a process and success is the sum of the parts.  You will rarely (if ever) win instructions after one interaction. Instead, you need to work through a few touch points to nudge a conversation forward and build trust.

You need to follow up then follow up the follow up!

4. You need to spend money on advertising and sponsorship

Unless you are a magic circle law firm or one of the Big 4 accountants, ‘cheque-book marketing’ is unlikely to work for you as you will need very deep pockets and already have a brand with a high level of market awareness.

It’s better and more cost-effective to invest in building relationships and boosting your visibility in your local area or chosen sectors.

5. BD Is just for extroverts

No!  All personality types can make a huge contribution to BD if they match their activity to their interests, personal preferences and skills.

So how does this support the argument that there is no such thing as bad BD?

BD is about having more interactions with your clients, referrers and other professional contacts.

What is a BD interaction?  An interaction can be described as having any contact with a target outside of an open client file.  Here are some examples:

– A telephone call

– A video conference call

– An e-introduction to connect two people in your network who you feel can help each other

– Sharing market intelligence, e.g., a research report, press article or news story

– An invitation to an event (social or business)

– Collaborating on a marketing event, e.g., webinar, expert panel discussion, e newsletter, video talking head or podcast

– Giving a referral

– Meeting for breakfast, lunch or evening meal

– Coffee meeting

– Drink after work

Why are these more informal interactions so important?

Put simply, it just isn’t enough to think ‘I will do a good job and that is my marketing done’. This is commercial naivety given we are in a constantly changing and increasingly competitive environment.

You need to do more for 5 reasons:

1. To build trust

As an advisor you sell an expensive service but it’s expensive for good reason.  The consequences of bad advice can be hugely damaging both financially and personally.

This means that people need to be totally confident you can do what you say you can do and building this level of confidence takes time.

2. To stay on your clients’ radar

Winning new instructions is about more than just being an excellent technical practitioner.  You also need to be visible to potential buyers when they need your services.

For example, if you are a litigator this need might only occur once every 5 years.  Staying visible is therefore a prerequisite. Interactions help you to do this.

3. To add more value and strengthen connections

Your contacts want more than brilliant execution of what you are asked to do.  You need to do more.  Be available to answer ad hoc enquiries off the clock and be prepared to introduce your contacts into your professional network.

4. To improve efficiencies and effectiveness in technical delivery

By having more interactions with your contacts, you will learn how they do things and what is important to them.  Only this level of insight will enable you to deliver top drawer client care.

5. To engineer serendipity

You will create serendipity by spending more time with your contacts.  They will say:

“I have been meaning to call you about…”

“It’s a good thing we’re meeting because…”

“I hadn’t thought of it before but…”

“There is something that I have been meaning to ask you…”

“Do you know someone who can help me with…?”

And of course, there is another parallel between pizza and business development …

… one slice is never enough!

We specialise in BD coaching and BD training for lawyers and accountants so if you feel you would benefit from refreshing your approach to business development, please drop us a line and we can find a time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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