A question I get asked a lot is “why is BD more important for lawyers/accountants today?”
Before I answer this question I want to debunk 3 BD myths:
1. Doing a good job is enough
No, it isn’t!
Clients expect your expertise and quality to be a given. They also expect good service and added value.
Whilst good advice and good service will generate an OK level of repeat work and referrals, it’s not be enough to deliver real growth or the level of new opportunities you should want.
So much of the new business winning process is about being visible to clients, referrers and contacts so you’re the person they turn to when they need your expertise.
You can’t assume that just because your practice delivered a great piece of litigation or solved a VAT problem 3 years ago that you’ll be the person they remember today.
2. There is no point doing BD as we don’t have capacity for more work at the moment
BD is a process, it’s an ongoing activity and there will always be a time lag between starting a conversation and getting an instruction.
You need to engineer several touch points over a period of time that will almost certainly be a few months if not years.
You also need to stay attuned to the need to backfill. There will always be natural client losses because people retire, move away or take their business away when fee earners leave.
3. I don’t have enough time for BD
We all have the same amount of time but make different choices how we spend it.
Historically BD has not been given a high enough value by some. Some fee earners have relegated it to the bottom of their to do list, satisfied the annual golf day, quiz night or summer party will do enough.
This is just a mindset issue. Proper BD is an investment, not a drain on your time.
Here are some BD activities that will take less than an hour a week:
– One coffee meeting with an important existing client to find out what they’re up to and what they have planned for the future.
– 3 x twenty minute phone calls to lapsed clients/referrers to catch up and see if there’s anything you could help with.
Post a few things a week on LinkedIn. With an iPhone this takes seconds (especially if you’re recycling, repurposing or repackaging content you’ve used elsewhere as a blog or for slides.
Why is BD more important today for lawyers and accountants?
There are 5 business critical reasons why lawyers and accountants have to give BD greater importance than ever before:
1. New market entrants mean that the traditional boundaries between the professions don’t exist any longer and with this blurring comes with fresh ideas.
2. Other professional service firms have become more marketing and BD savvy. The bar has been raised. BD is no longer about hosting the same old events. It’s about embracing new channels to market.
3. Clients are less loyal to their advisors which means that churn rates are increasing so you need to keep topping up your client base or your market share and fee revenue will soon drop.
4. This is the toughest social, economic and political climate most of us can remember. This is leading to more clients benchmarking and more clients questioning the value and quality of service provision.
5. Career progression is now 100% reliant on you bring able to show you can bring in work so if you’re not doing it for the firm, do it for you!