Proactive marketing and business development executives – CRM, internal engagement and career insights

In November it was a full house for the PM Forum’s  Proactive marketing and business development executive online workshop. It was on budget day so those from accountancy and tax practices had a lot going on. These sessions are experiential – with much use of social learning so many insights are generated during group discussions. Proactive marketing and business development executives – CRM, internal engagement and career insights.

What CRM/systems would people recommend?

There was much discussion about the different systems that were used – and people’s views on whether they were good, bad or indifferent. Many reflected that it is rarely the system that is at fault if there are issues. The firm’s culture, business development processes, adoption by fee-earners and support staff and the quality of the data are key success factors.

A variety of specialist (to professional services) and mainstream CRM systems were explored. The pros and cons of standalone vs integrated (with the firm’s overall data architecture) was considered – especially with regards to user adoption and data duplication.

There was an article in The Professionals (November 2023) about a new fully managed CRM for small and mid-tier law firms called Promptr®. It works as an add-on to Outlook and was developed by Simon McNidder (previously at PwC, Pinsent Masons and Gowlings).  A new fully managed CRM launched for small and mid-tier law firms – PSM The Professionals (

In design, Canva: Visual Suite for Everyone was found “to be really useful for the less detailed documents that can be designed in-house rather than sending out to external designers”. Others commented that those who already have Adobe Creative Cloud | Details and products | Adobe, can also look at Free Design, Photo, and Video Tool | Adobe Express as alternative to Canva it’s already part of the package. However, there are limitations compared to Canva.

For events, one delegate asked about LinkedIn Events | LinkedIn Marketing Solutions  and whether others experienced problems with bots and a lack of control over who registers. Others asked about platforms for event invitations. Marketing, Automation & Email Platform | Mailchimp was used by some. Others commented on the value of Home – Vuture – a system designed for professional services – for event marketing and noted its facilities to retain dietary requirements and other preferences. Email Online Invitations that WOW! | was mentioned for invitations and RSVP tracking.

Another delegate suggested using | A new way of working to integrate all action lists and help avoid being overwhelmed by so many tasks.

Related CRM posts:

Key Account Management (KAM) – Research companies ( June 2023

Marketing technology system review – Clean contact data with Cirrom ( February 2023

Beating Six Barriers to KAM and Training (Kim Tasso) June 2021

The growth of MarTech in professional services – an overview ( March 2020

Intapp leads the way with client lifecycle management (CLM) solution ( June 2019

relationship management automation in professional services firms ( April 2018

Marketing technology – Vuture ( November 2012

Introhive case studies

Grant Thornton Australia case study: Fostering a Sales Mindset with the help of Introhive | Introhive

Case Study: Gould & Ratner LLP puts their legacy data to work with Introhive’s Relationship Intelligence Platform | Introhive

Case Study: Howard Kennedy increases CRM Adoption & grows the Firm’s marketable database by 400% | Introhive

Case Study: Lupton Fawcett invests in relationship intelligence and increase client satisfaction with a 350% return on investment | Introhive Lupton Fawcett

Case Study: Colliers International in Canada maps over 140k relationships in CRM & automates manual data entry for brokers | Introhive

InterAction case studies

LEXI_3462_DWF-Case-Study.pdf (

ia-brochure.pdf ( Kennedys

Intapp case studies

Baker McKenzie Gains Global Visibility Into Its Key-Client Relationships Case Study • Intapp

Enhance internal engagement (and obtain sales information from fee-earners)

Most firms have systems that gather data on front-end marketing activities such as web visits (Google Analytics), social media management, mailings and events. However, some lack systems and data for monitoring activities once leads are passed to fee-earners for follow up and nurturing.

Sometimes marketing and sales system are not integrated. So there were questions about how to persuade fee-earners to provide information on how they were progressing with leads (to monitor lead nurturing and supplement attribution and cost per lead calculations) and their conversions (so that ROI could be calculated).

Some firms were fortunate to have integrated CRM systems (such as InterAction and Salesforce) that incorporated opportunity and sales tracking information so this was not a problem. Others had difficulty with this as the fee-earners did not have a systematic approach to pursuing leads and opportunities. And there was the added complication of long sales cycles. Four themes in the art of selling – Integrating marketing and sales (

A creative exercise on engagement generated some interesting metaphors – for example, a brick wall suggesting a lack of communication, a carrot considering motivation and a Leonardo di Caprio shrug suggesting indifference. This ignited ideas on how to address some of the issues.

There were comments that it was unusual for people to be in the office so face time and in person meetings – where it is easier to develop rapport, trust and solid working relationships – were rare. Geographical and psychological distance can seem larger when in a digital space. Finding ways to meet with people in real time (such as at social events) can help.

Ideas to enhance internal engagement

To reduce “us and them” (fee earners and marketing) feelings we can try to invoke a sense of ingroup and a shared social identity. Leadership and the In-Group/Out-Group Phenomenon (

Create a sense of unity by reminding people we are on the same team and all striving for the same results (happy clients and increased profits). A similar approach would be to unite people behind the need to focus on client interests and overcoming competitor activity. And it is hard to argue with evidence of client sentiment or competitor action.

Other ideas to increase engagement included:

Marketing and business development executive career insights

There was an even split between delegates who were new to the role and others who were more established. Between 1% and 20% of their time currently spent being proactive – with a median of 10%. Ideas on how to spend any “free” time ranged from competitor and analytics analysis to business plans for teams although some mentioned getting up to date on admin.

We shared questions and reflections half-way through the day and at the end. Key insights raised by delegates included:

  • View marketing qualifications from a professional services perspective – Half the delegates had marketing qualifications. The early quiz on key marketing concepts prompted some to reflect that their studies had concentrated on consumer marketing (B2C) which made it challenging to apply to B2B professional services marketing. New CIM professional marketing qualifications – 2020 (
  • Collaborate – If you can demonstrate to fee-earners that you are approachable, knowledgeable, helpful and get the job done they are more likely to be engaged. Working as part of a team – across marketing and business development specialisations and with fee-earners from across the firm – was more important for today’s more complex projects. Collaboration is one of the four human abilities that can protect us from being automated The Human Edge – How curiosity and creativity are your superpowers (
  • Hone thought leadership skills – There are many skills required to support thought leadership projects including: internal relationships, collaboration, influence, persuasion, research, analysis, creativity, campaign planning, project management, content development, analytics and performance measurement Campaigns, thought leadership and project management (
  • Accept resistance and push back – We all experience some push back from fee-earners. Sometimes this is because of the constraints fee-earners experience – too little time, pressure to serve clients, fear of failure. Sometimes it is because we need to find better ways to communicate. Sometimes we need to refine our ideas and present better evidence. Dealing with resistance to change (
  • Look beyond marketing communications – Many of the delegates’ roles focused on marketing communications and some were keen to understand the broader business development activities. “It was interesting to learn how Business Development Executives work with managing client relationships”. 
  • Conduct a personal gap analysis“By considering all the things that a proactive marketing/BD executive could do and talking to other delegates I have discovered some gaps in my knowledge and skills that I aim to remedy”. Taking responsibility for your own personal development is particularly important for those in smaller firms where there is perhaps a less developed career development process.
  • Harness social learning – Whilst in person and online training have a lot to offer, sharing with peers remains a powerful way to learn. “It has been really interesting to hear the different platforms others use for events and social media and how they work for their firms”. Another delegate commented “Be confident, have a solid plan and solid support from a colleague outside of marketing/BD i.e a partner”.
  • Acknowledge some challenges are universal – Delegates felt relieved that they were not alone in experiencing some issues. “Listening to others it seems that we all face similar challenges – particularly with regards to internal engagement. It’s reassuring to know that it isn’t just me and my firm!”

Delegate planned actions

  • Be more confident when talking to fee-earners and take control of my role
  • Perform a ‘personal audit’ and improve my knowledge in the areas of marketing/BD where my confidence and experience is lacking
  • I will be more assertive and convey confidence when working with client facing teams.
  • Make myself more visible in meeting with fee earners.
  • Build relationships with fee-earners
  • Build my knowledge of the sector
  • Write a SWOT analysis of my progress so far and cross-reference it against where I want to be in future
  • Build a future plan and organise steps of actions on how to grow
  • Carve out more time to think before I just do
  • Anticipate needs of the fee earners and be more assertive in my approach
  • Ask for more feedback from fee-earners and managers on where I can improve or what I can do to help them engage more
  • Look at the BD plans for each team more regularly to remind myself what we’re trying to achieve
  • Do some further reading and research to increase knowledge and keep up to date with an everchanging market (more knowledge will lead to more confidence in role)
  • Use the rock, pebble and sand method to prioritise and not become overwhelmed
  • Keep aware of new tech changes – especially AI

Selected delegate poll results

Delegates appreciate seeing their responses to compare against their peers

How confident do you feel in your role?



Start of session End of session
5 5%
6 37% 17%
7 16% 33%
8 24% 17%
9 11% 28%
10 11% 6%


Do you have any marketing qualifications?

  • 53% Yes
  • 47% No

Is your role mainly:

  • 11% Strategic marketing
  • 47% Tactical marketing/communications
  • 0% Information management/analyst/administration
  • 0% Selling/pitching
  • 5% Relationship management/development
  • 37% All of the above

Which segmentation approaches are used in your firm (multiple choice)

  • 79% Market/industry sector
  • 21% Size of business
  • 53% Job function
  • 74% Geography/region
  • 32% Nature of relationships
  • 47% A mixture

Do you have marketing/BD plans for (multiple choice)

  • 74% The firm
  • 58% The markets we serve
  • 58% The products/services we promote
  • 37% Each territory/region
  • 26% A mixture

How well does your firm track/monitor the source of leads?

  • 0% Really well across the firm
  • 21% Good in some teams
  • 45% OK
  • 32% Not very well
  • 0% Not at all

Do you measure client satisfaction?

  • 11% Yes – across the whole firm and all clients regularly
  • 11% Yes – for our largest clients
  • 63% Yes – for some clients or periodically
  • 16% No

Do you have crisis management plans at your firm?

  • 21% Yes
  • 79% No

Which types of external consultant does your firm use (multiple choice)

  • 68% Web design/development
  • 58% Design and creative
  • 42% SEO
  • 32% PR, public relations and copywriting
  • 26% Brand
  • 21% PPC
  • 16% Data management/analytics
  • 11% Mailings
  • 11% Events support

Do you have people reporting directly to you?

  • 16% Yes
  • 84% No

How often do you experience difficulties in your relationships with fee-earners?

  • 5% Never
  • 89% Occasionally
  • 5% Often

Have you had formal training in selling?

  • 0% Yes
  • 50% No – self-taught/experience
  • 50% No – unfamiliar with sales/selling concepts

Where is most of your time spent?

  • 56% Marketing and business development planning
  • 28% Awareness raising
  • 11% Developing existing relationships
  • 6% Winning new business
  • 0% Lead generation

Which topics are your three highest priorities for learning?

  • 78% Strategic marketing and business development
  • 44% Engagement and collaboration with fee-earners
  • 44% Interpersonal skills (communication, persuasion etc)
  • 33% Campaign development
  • 28% Strategy and change management
  • 22% Digital marketing
  • 22% Managing and developing people
  • 28% Selling, pitching and client relationships
  • 6% Technology/innovation/automation
  • 6% Commerciality and pricing

Related Posts

It’s interesting to see how the themes from professional service marketing and business development executives have changed over the years

The Proactive M&BD Executive – Culture shock, marketing models ( April 2023

become a more proactive Marketing and Business Development Executive ( December 2022

Reflections from Marketing and Business Development Executives ( October 2022

Recruiting and retaining marketing and business development ( August 2022

How to advance your career in professional services marketing ( April 2022

Proactive Marketing Executive – Plans, Budgets, Relationships and Career ( September 2021

Proactive Marketing and BD Executive – Data, Reach, Qualifications, Skills ( April 2021

Proactive Marketing/BD Executive (Oct 2020) – Session highlights ( October 2020

Top 10 takeaways – Proactive Marketing Executive (Feb 2019) ( June 2019

assertiveness, impact and effectiveness ( March 2018

Proactive Marketing Executive – Eight top tips ( February 2018

Proactive Marketing Executive workshop ( February 2017

35 tips to improve Time Management for busy professionals ( January 2017

seven building blocks of a proactive marketing executive ( October 2015