How can lawyers and accountants start to reintroduce traditional face-to-face business development back into their BD plans (part 1)?

Walking around London this week made me think we seems to be pretty much back to normal.  Everywhere is busy and more and more of our client meetings are (mercifully) back to being held onsite and in person.  And as we’re back in the office it is arguably the right time for lawyers and accountants to start to reintroduce traditional face-to-face business development back into their BD plans.

If you have been managing your key relationships properly during the restrictions, moving video and phone calls to meeting in person should be a natural progression.

However, you will need to continue to employ a bit of emotional intelligence as some people may still be a little hesitant.  I’d always suggest you ask everyone you invite for a meeting if they are comfortable meeting in person or if they would prefer to continue to meet virtually for the time being at least. 

Another neat intermediary step is to offer to meet either in your offices or at your clients’/contacts’ premises as this could be more comfortable for some than a crowded bar  or restaurant.

That said our experience would suggest most people are willing to take you up on the offer of a meeting as it’s been so long since they’ve been out with anyone!

How do lawyers and accountants start to reintroduce face-to-face business development?

Getting back in front of your ‘A list’ is the priority for any lawyer or accountant looking to start reintroducing traditional face-to-face business development back into their BD plan.

Your A list is the small group of people most likely to yield results (and, as always, ‘results’ doesn’t just mean new work; it also means introductions, invitations and insight).  These may be clients but your list should also include professional contacts and generally well connected people within your local or target markets.

If either you’re finding it tough to whittle down your list to a manageable 6-10 or finding it hard to decide if someone should be on your A list, ask yourself two highly scientific questions:

1. Are they potentially useful (and again useful + new work, new introductions, new invitations and new insight)?

2. Do I like them?

If you get 2 yesses, they should be on your list. 

Once you have your list, get in touch.  This very much comes down to a very simple case of JFDI which for the uninitiated is a slight riff on the Nike slogan … you can work it out!

How do you make sure people say yes when you ask them for a meeting?

If you want to maximise your chance of getting an a) positive and b) immediate response, here’s a tip.

In De Palma’s The Untouchables Robert De Niro’s Al Capone tells the assembled journalists vying for a quote that in his neighbourhood you get further with a kind word and a gun than you do with just a kind word.  BD is no different. 

Your kind word is your invitation.  Your ‘gun’ is the reason you want to issue that invitation.  Do you need their perspective on something?  Have you been doing work recently that they would benefit from knowing about?  Do you have some ideas for a collaborative marketing initiative?

The next part of getting a positive and immediate response is to do offer to meet how/where/when that person prefers (taking into account you’re going to make sure they are happy to meet in person when you contact them).  Are they a lunch person?  A breakfast person? A mid-morning coffee person?  Or a drink after work person?

Although it may sound bleeding obvious but adding a reason and playing to the recipient’s preferences in your approach really will increase the likelihood you get your yes.

Helping lawyers and  accountants put their A list together and making sure they work that list is one of Tenandahalf’s core strengths.  We specialise in providing BD coaching for solicitors, accountants, patent and trade mark attorneys and barristers.  If you’d like to know how we will help your fee earners generate more new work, please get in touch.

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: