How do you persuade lawyers and accountants to make time for BD?

Another question the senior partners at the firms we work with ask us a lot is how you persuade lawyers and accountants to make time for BD.

To answer this question, I sometimes make a parallel to how we encourage our children to get into good habits.

What lessons can we learn from raising children ?

You need to break the desired change into small steps.

You must create an environment where your child wants to do what you are suggesting.

Repetition is critical to effect sustained change.

You must be a role model.

Measuring progress in an engaging way can help to keep you on track.

How can what we know about raising children persuade lawyers and accountants to make time for BD?

So, how can we apply this insight to tackling the thorny issue of encouraging lawyers and accountants to make time for BD? Do all the above!

Human beings – irrespective of age or career vocation – are creatures of habit.  We need to want to do something before acting.  Coercion, or just telling people what to do will not work.  Rational reasoning alone is never enough.  You must get emotional buy-in first.

How can this play out in a professional services firm?  Here are two examples.

1. Introducing a new CRM system.

Highlighting technical functionality and even highlighting the benefits of knowing your clients better, improving efficiencies, and cross-selling is unlikely to be enough. The unspoken truth is that many people will be thinking “so what?” and “how does that help me?”.

To get people to use your new CRM system you will also need to:

Appoint a popular sponsor who fee earners can relate to so they think “if s/he is using it this must be good for me to use”.

Frame the communications using case studies around personal frustrations that lawyers and accountants have (e.g. the practical difficulties of winning new clients from a cold start versus the relative ease of getting warm introductions from colleagues).

Make it easy to use. This often means not rather than investing in a ‘bells and whistles’ system going for something more straightforward. This also means integrating a CRM system with other your existing case management and finance systems.

Start small by piloting CRM in one part of the business so you can iron out any teething problems.

2. Tell all fee earners to do 2 hours BD each week.

Again, telling won’t work.  People may pay lip service, but uptake will be poor. Instead, you might try some of these tactics:

Showcase and praise publicly lawyers and/ or accountants in your practice who engage in BD activities.

Link BD activity to personal development plans, appraisals and, ultimately, remuneration.

Introduce BD to fee earners on qualification in your practice as a key requirement of career progression. Make it clear that BD is part of their day job, not something extra to do when they are not very busy.

Have visual cues in offices to highlight the importance that is ascribed to BD.  Roadmaps and scorecards will act as a visible daily reminder that BD is part of your firm’s culture.

Involve partners in BD training and coaching programmes and have consequences for partners not ‘walking the talk’.

Match BD activity to the personal interests of individuals instead of having a one -size fits all approach that favours traditional and formal business networking. Encourage yoga, book, and curry clubs as social alternatives to more stuffy networking.

Make a distinction between inputs (BD activity) and outputs (new instructions).  Measure inputs as well as outputs, always recognising there will be a time-lag between the two.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you persuade your  lawyers and accountants to find time for BD, 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.

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