Yesterday, I led another training session for CLT on Business Development for Lawyers in London.

The session takes delegates on the journey from analysing their markets and services, setting goals, selecting appropriate strategies and creating integrated marketing, communications, sales and relationship management campaigns.

As usual, the nature of the delegates’ firms and practice areas were diverse – some promoted consumer and others commercial legal services, some were in multi-site offices whereas others were in single offices, some were extremely sophisticated in their marketing and some were more traditional although most admitted that their knowledge and use of digital marketing and social media was limited.

As always, I asked them what they found most valuable during the day and this was their response: 

1.     Listen to the market and clients – There was acknowledgement that too much attention was paid to internal issues (what do we want to sell?) and that there was a need to listen more to the market and to specific client perceptions, needs and feedback (what do they want to buy and how?). The need to deploy active listening skills in the sales process was also discussed later in the day.

2.     Use a structured process and plan – Delegates felt more confident having a process (Where are we now? What are the key issues? Where do we want to be? How will we get there?) to follow to support their thinking and the development of plans. They also found it helpful to break down their planned activity into stages that follow the sales cycle:

  • Market analysis – segmentation and targeting
  • Service development and pricing
  • Competitive positioning and differentiation
  • Profile raising
  • Lead generation
  • Selling, conversion and new business development
  • Existing client management
  • Referrer development 

3.     Get granular with goal setting – One exercise involved taking overall fee (and profit) targets and breaking them down into revenue from existing referrers/clients and from new clients – and from different channels. We also broke the targets down into the various combinations of volume and value of cases to make it easier to select the appropriate strategies. This was extended to examine the sales pipeline so that we knew how many enquiries, meetings, quotes/estimates and conversions were needed to achieve these targets. There was also some lively discussion about the need to set targets for non-chargeable time – or, as we put it, time that generates income and profit for the future rather than today. 

4.     Make brave strategic choices – Most agreed that it would enhance their business development effectiveness once they had established a clear direction and made the necessary choices (based on analysis) to focus efforts. They found it helpful to think about strategies for existing and new clients, the use of different channels to market and the development of plans to develop new services and new markets. There were some great ideas generated about how to adopt a more innovative approach to identifying client segments and packaging up new services. 

5.     Involve the team – Everyone could see the value in involving other team members in the strategic analysis and planning to encourage participation and increase motivation to act. They liked the idea of building campaigns that integrated activities such as research, analysis, targeting, digital marketing, content development, seminars, events, networking and meetings so that lawyers could choose activities that played to their strengths and preferences. And those that weren’t up to technology solutions agreed to use old-tech (e.g. wall charts) to write and monitor planned and focused activities. 

6.     Remember the “social” in social media – Whilst almost everyone had LinkedIn profiles and Twitter accounts, few were using them for much beyond “broadcasting” news from their firms and teams. We explored ways in which social media could accelerate “word of mouth” recommendations and how risks could be managed. We spent some time looking at how we could be more interactive by liking and sharing other people’s content, engaging in dialogue with new contacts when they connected and in efficiently maintaining contact with a wide range of clients and referrers. Several delegates promised to download the apps onto their smart phones so that they could use “dead” time to scan their feeds to keep them up to date (and acting on) with developments in markets and at their major clients and referrers.

Further details: