4 ways lawyers and accountants can improve their business development

This week we’d like to share 4 really simple tips that will help lawyers and accountants can improve their business development.

As lawyers and accountants, we know you have never harboured any ambition to be a salesperson. 

We know you didn’t receive any sales training while you were studying and qualifying. 

This doesn’t mean that the ability to bring in work isn’t going to play a massive part in your career development though (and, sorry, but this is only going to become a more important promotion criterion as the market continues to harden) but these 4 tips are all easy to employ and all proven to help lawyers and accountants improve their business development.

1. Forget ‘BD’, ‘business development’, ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’, concentrate on visibility

Before we look at any specific types of BD activities, let’s start with the end in mind.  Don’t get caught up trying to work out what terms like ‘BD’, ‘business development’ and ‘marketing mean (or, more dangerously, how they differ from each other).  Instead, start with the end in mind.

You are doing BD to win work but winning work isn’t easy so rather than put loads of unnecessary pressure on your shoulders, just concentrate on getting more visible.

Get more visible to your current clients.

Get more visible to your professional contacts.

Get more visible to the types of clients you want.

Get more visible in the markets you want to work in (whether these are based around industry sectors or geography).

2. Lawyers and accountants will improve their business development by doing what suits them best

As a lawyer or an accountant, you’re busy.  Clients have to come first and as you progress client demands will undoubtedly be supplemented with some extra internal responsibilities.  This leaves little time for BD. 

If you are forced to do stuff you aren’t comfortable doing, the likelihood of you finding the required time to do BD is minimal.

However, if you concentrate on the things you like doing and doing them with people you like, BD will not be a chore.  It could even be – dare I say it – enjoyable!

In very general terms the 4 types of BD are networking (formal and informal), writing blogs and articles, speaking at events or on podcasts or webinars and doing the research to support your networking, writing and speaking colleagues.

Before you commit your personal BD plan to paper, ask yourself (honestly) which you are best suited to.

3. Lawyers and accountants will improve their business development if they start with who they already know

New client acquisition is the sexy end of BD but it’s also the hardest thing to do.  Most clients will have advisers in place and these relationships are hard to shake.

Referrals and introductions are a much more realistic target.  They are also much easier to generate.  All you need to do is make a list of your current clients and contacts and work out how you can get closer to them so that you are best placed to receive more work from them and more referrals and introductions if direct opportunities aren’t to be forthcoming.

And don’t worry, this isn’t about pitching and hard selling.  It’s about knowing what you want from each relationship and having a plan that’ll keep you visible (see what I did there!) at regular intervals throughout the year so you are best placed as and when the types of opportunities you want arise.

4. Lawyers and accountants can improve their business development if they ask for help

Sometimes in professional service firms there is a reticence to ask for help as it’s wrongly seen as a sign of weakness.  It’s actually quite the reverse.  The better you are at winning work, the happier the partners will be and the more you lean on your marketing and BD teams or external BD resources, the more fulfilled they’ll feel.

Across your firm (and in you firm’s immediate circle) there are a load of people ready to help you develop your personal BD style and improve the way you do business development. 

You know who’s good at the market facing stuff (lunches, breakfasts, dinners, drinks, events), who is good at producing content, who is good at standing up and speaking in front of an audience.  Ask to shadow them, to join them in meetings, to meet their contacts’ junior colleagues.  See first hand what works and pick up practical tips you can use to improve the way you do business development.

Use your marketing and BD teams or access to your firm’s external BD support (like Tenandahalf!).  First off, their job is to help you increase your visibility so they will have loads of ideas you can use.  Secondly, they are experienced sales and marketing people.  They know what works and, more importantly from the perspective of your time and sanity, what doesn’t.

If you’d like any more BD tips, please help yourself from our extensive resources section or if you’d like to arrange a chat about how you can improve your approach to business development, please get in touch today.

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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