Business development for lawyers – five key insightsPosted on: June 21, 2012
Recently, I ran another of the successful Business development for lawyers full day training sessions in London. Unusually, the delegates were predominantly from commercial areas including corporate, property and employment representing a range of small and larger firms from across the UK. Some of their target markets were interesting: aviation, utilities, housing associations, agriculture, charities and renewable energy!
The presenting issues included: generating more involvement amongst lawyers, creating an integrated plan, managing the balance of firm vs. individual lawyer profile, the need to focus efforts, social media and a thirst for new ideas.
Five key insights
Throughout the day, the following key issues emerged for the delegates:
1. Specialise, specialise, specialise
With the increased competition from commodity providers, one key strategy for many firms is to specialisem (another is to focus on service and relationships but we didn’t focus on that on this occasion). Sometimes this is with a very specific area of unusual legal expertise, more likely it is through the identification of a narrowly defined segment or niche. Segmentation approaches come to the fore here and a whole host of channels and communication methods to reach your targets. This sector or niche market approach aids differentiation and also has the advantage of lawyers from different parts of the firm working together to share the business development load and maximise the chances of promoting a range of the firm’s services.
2. Specific objectives and research
Too many marketing and sales initiatives fail because the objectives (and therefore the expected returns) are not specific. This is also the reason why so often marketing and selling activity is at the end of a lawyer’s “to do” list. In order to get realistic objectives you need research – to assess the size of the potential market, to evaluate the best channels, to identify specific targets and to prepare for selling. There also needs to be some internal research to obtain benchmarks against which to measure success and to identify current strengths, sources of work, conversion rates and profitability. We also touched on the need to provide targets for time invested in business development – as opposed to purely for fee-earning time.
3. Firm vs individual brand plan
This is a topic that is generating a lot of interest as firms start to engage in social media. However, it is not a new challenge! We talked about how in big firms it is the firm brand that gets you in the door and then it is up to the individual, whereas in smaller firms it is often the individual who opens the door and the firm’s brand is then something to be addressed as part of the credibility piece. Like all things in business development, there needs to be a plan and an agreed balance in how the individual, team and firm are promoted and this will vary with issues such as the degree of market penetration and maturity, the methods used and the resources available. The pipeline (or funnel) model was found to be helpful in this respect.
4. Integration – from the web to the lawyer
We spent a fair amount of time considering how to integrate various marketing and sales activities so that firm wide and team based inbound marketing and lead generation initiatives worked well with individual lawyer efforts. It quickly became apparent to delegates that a solid strategic plan made it much easier to integrate web sites, search engine optimisation, traditional marketing such as events, e-marketing, blogging, social media and personal selling. There was also some time spent on ensuring that there were appropriate calls to action in each activity.
5. People buy people
Despite spending a fair amount of time considering the approaches to strategic planning and latest marketing tools and techniques, we also focused on the need to ensure that lawyers at all touch points (handling enquiries, networking, at meetings and pitches etc) were equipped with the necessary emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and also with relevant sales processes and techniques. And we came back to the thorny problem of getting lawyers to get into the habit of undertaking business development activity as part of their “business as usual”.
Some FAQs that are relevant to these issues:
Some other blog articles that are relevant to these issues:
- Getting your head around basic selling skills
- Speaking and Lecturing
- Selling Skills for the Professions
- Published Articles
- Law firm financial benchmarking - report for small and medium sized solicitor practices from NatWest
- Book review: Rainmakers and Trailblazers – A practical step-by-step guide to effective business development for lawyers showing how their support teams can help
- How can a lawyer become more effective at business development?
- How can I improve my pricing strategy?
- How do I integrate social media into my business development?
- Client feedback: Trends in law firm panel tenders
- Two book reviews – For “Rainmakers and Trailblazers: Business Development for Lawyers”
- Book review - Rainmakers and Trailblazers (Business development for lawyers) by DWF
- Book Review – Business Networking: The Survival Guide by Will Kintish
- Marketing Technology – To automate or not to automate legal pitch and tender documents? (Enable’s PitchPerfect system)
- Sales and selling tips: 11 point plan for cold calling
- There’s a real person behind that Persona
- Business development for lawyers – Pipelines, relationship management and international marketing (October 2017)
- Marketing automation – New pitch development system from Iphelion
- Helping fee-earners prepare the perfect pitch
- Back to basics – The importance of segmentation and personas
- Rainmakers and Trailblazers – Business development for lawyers
- What are the most appropriate selling frameworks or models for professional firms?
- 10 top tips for targeting – bring focus to your sales efforts
- The Lawyer UK 200 Workspace report – Law firm use of real estate
- Selling - The vital role of research in the pitch process
- 16 ways to remember names when networking
- Crisis management - When your web site is hacked…
- Pricing problems across the professions
- Linking pipeline and portfolio management to avoid strategic drift
- Professional selling tips
- Presentation skills – Preparing the content and delivery
- The pricing of family law services – An overview
- One more time – Why is social media helpful for lawyers, accountants and surveyors?
- Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, here’s the 12 Ps of Partner Competencies
- New lead generation and intelligence system for targeting high net worth private clients – An overview of NETZ
- SEO update for professional services (October 2020)
Category: Kim's Blog, Lawyers, Marketing, Selling, Social Media, Strategy
Tagged: ABS, Business Development, Emotional Intelligence, events, Lawyers, Niche, Planning, selling, Social Media, Strategy, Training