When I was a marketing director at Eversheds around 20 years ago, I learned a very valuable lesson. Don’t focus on marketing strategy over tactics because when it comes to BD for lawyers and accountants, visibility will always trump clever marketing.
As a newcomer to the legal world, I got side-tracked by new websites, brochures and business plans forgetting what lawyers should be doing is building relationships. And – sorry to say this – websites, brochures and business plans don’t build relationships.
Being visible and getting to know what is important to your clients and contacts builds relationships.
How can lawyers and accountants become more visible to clients and contacts?
The first step is to analyse your most productive source of new business.
Identify the 20% of your clients and contacts that deliver 80% of your fees (it really will break down like this).
Once you know, you need to do 3 things:
– Commit to delivering added value over and beyond what these clients/referrers/contacts would expect. Invite them to social or industry events, give them some time ‘off the clock’, introduce them to people they want to meet.
– See them 1on1 away from open files or ongoing matters. Have a coffee, a lunch, a breakfast, a drink after work or a walk round the park if you work near each other.
– Include them in your client listening programme … then act on their feedback!
Why is visibility so important to a lawyer and accountant’s BD?
Just doing a good job is no longer enough to be successful. You need to be visible, you need profile and you need strong working relationships and here are 5 reasons why:
– You’ll slip down the pecking order if you’re not visible. You won’t be the only person courting your clients and contacts’ business.
– If you’re not making the effort, your clients/contacts will assume you don’t value your professional relationship. This could tempt them to go elsewhere for advice.
– More contact enables you to educate your contacts about the breadth and depth of services that your firm has and therefore make cross-selling easier.
– More contact enables equals better understanding. And the more you understand about what your clients and contacts want, the better service you’ll deliver.
– More client contact engineers serendipity! BD stuff makes stuff happen. You will organically create new opportunities just from talking to your clients and contacts.
How can lawyers and accountants use BD to increase your visibility?
A very effective and time efficient way to build your personal visibility with lapsed contacts is to create and monitor a ‘coffee plan’ (this doesn’t mean drinking endless cups of coffees, coffee’s just a catch-all term for spending time with the most important people).
A structured ‘coffee plan’ begins with nothing more arduous than a phone or video call. Once you’re in touch, just see what happens. Very few conversations will end without a very natural opportunity to suggest “next time we should do this in person, when are you free?”
It is always better to anchor these 1on1 invitations to something concrete. You can follow up on a previous conversation, sharing an article or link of mutual interest, make an introduction or even ask for a bit of advice off the record.