Six questions from Proactive Marketing/BD Executives – Time, buy-in, cross-selling, social media, events and AI

At the recent “Proactive Marketing and Business Development Executive” full day PM Forum workshop, delegates (from law (including a former secretary and a former lawyer), accounting and consulting practices asked a number of questions. These summary answers contribute to the learning resources for the session.  Six questions from Proactive Marketing/BD Executives – Time, buy-in, cross-selling, social media, events and AI.

What would a marketing and BD Executive do with more time?

We are all busy and pressed for time which makes it hard to find “heads up” time to research, think, anticipate, innovate and be more proactive. Delegation and collaboration allow us to free up our calendars. AI also provides opportunities to be more efficient and save time.

Releasing time and ways to be more proactive were discussed at the previous workshop too: become a more proactive Marketing and Business Development Executive (

My suggestions for what to do with “free” time included:

  • Keep your eye on the firm and team’s strategy to see where you could innovate
  • Monitor market changes, competitors and client needs
  • Ask fee-earners and team members about their goals and challenges
  • Analyse past performance and see where you can improve.
  • Seek out new opportunities to generate revenue and profits
  • Check all activities have clear goals, the best strategies and are measured

But above all, MBD executives should remain curious What is curiosity and why is it important in business relationships? (Video) (

Delegates suggested what they might do with more time:

  • Take a step back and look at the bigger picture (strategy and upcoming campaigns and events)
  • Revisit marketing objectives and strategies for each team I support and create a list of priorities for the next six months
  • Have more thinking time
  • Conduct knowledge-based research to understand the market better to be able to give ideas to the team leaders and fee earners
  • Come up with new ideas, strategies and methods for my everyday work life
  • Tie up the bits that never get done due to prioritisation of normal daily tasks
  • Read up and plan on current trends
  • Research how I can upskill

A related question was “What regular processes or actions to adopt to create a more proactive mindset?”. This is about building healthy routines and habits into our work life. There were many ideas to create a proactive mindset:

  • Have a target for how much time you want to be proactive each day, week and month
  • Question whether requests are urgent or important (other time management techniques are explored: 35 tips to improve Time Management for busy professionals (
  • Constantly ask “Why?” and “What next?”
  • Schedule regular calendar time (10 minutes a day) to think and plan
  • Schedule 15 minutes before important meetings to prepare yourself
  • Find out something new from a fee-earner every day
  • Try something new each day – “Do one thing every day that scares you” is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Ask each day what you have achieved, what contribution you made and what you can do better the next day
  • Reflect for a few minutes at the end of each day – and plan for the next day

How do you increase fee-earner engagement and buy in? (especially psychological tips)

This question was raised by a number of delegates – for example: how to promote fee-earner engagement in their use of CRM systems and social media through to buy-in on marketing and business development generally. Some delegates were particularly interested in psychological tips.

Engagement and buy-in are big topics and there is a separate workshop devoted to the topics. Following the most recent session in March 2024, I posted this article Achieve more engagement and buy-in ( which has links to many other buy-in resources.

This short video provides 11 tips on achieving buy-in Animal magic of buy-in and stakeholder engagement (Video) ( – listening, empathy, perspective, face-to-face communication, networking, alignment, emotion, consultation, politics, sleeper effect, personalities and taking them on the journey.

How can I facilitate a cross-selling environment?

At the heart of this question is how to adjust the organisational culture to overcome departmental (silo) boundaries and personal fee-earning targets. Many firms have evolved to a “one firm” approach to achieve this.  A fundamental issue is to shift from an internal focus (“How can I cross-sell?”) to a client-centric view (“What does this client need now?”).

Cross-selling is a major topic and there are dedicated workshops on the subject. See, for example: the post from the March 2023 session which looked at changing organisational culture Cultivate a cross-selling culture ( In March 2024, we looked at the core cross-selling issues of data, focus and behaviour.  Cross-selling and referrer management – Data, focus (

Some firms find that focusing on the client experience journey allows them to automate prompts where clients are reminded of relevant services.  Other firms find cross-selling easier to achieve within the context of a key account management (KAM) programme. See, for example: Key Account Management (KAM) – Research companies (

Whilst focused on KAM rather than cross-selling. This post outlines the key processes in changing attitudes and behaviours: Six key KAM lessons – Education, Expectations, Exemplars, Emergence (

  • Education (and engagement) of fee-earners
  • Expectations of fee-earners (aligning aims, describing benefits and building a business case)
  • Exemplars amongst fee-earners (find your champion fee-earners and best practice)
  • Emergence of new behaviours (co-create processes with fee-earners, use client listening, provide training and align reward systems)
  • Evolution of a new culture (start small, clarify responsibilities and build on successes)

How can we make better use of our social media channels?

There were comments that some firms do well with LinkedIn for engagement and building new followings, but struggle to achieve the same results on Facebook and Twitter/X. Many firms use an omni-channel approach – to integrate messages and the experience across many platforms. But that doesn’t mean that ALL channels need to be used.

We need to research and understand our target audience. It was noted that – especially for B2B – LinkedIn was the preferred platform. Facebook and Instagram might be more relevant for B2C. It was suggested we concentrate resources on developing our LinkedIn engagement further, rather than attempting to gain traction on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter/X where our target markets might not visit. (Check out the materials on segmentation).

Research and careful analysis of analytics data would show which channels generated the most and “best” traffic to the web site. Similarly, analysis of the source of leads, enquiries and new clients would help identify on which platforms to concentrate. Cost per enquiry and cost per client calculations would indicate which are the most cost-effective social media platforms.

There was a general view that Twitter/X had become less valuable. Most commented that there had been a steady decline in engagement and it has become a more negative space. Since it became X, the view was that it was rarely effective. Many firms had stopped using it. Some firms had moved to Threads instead.

Increasingly, Instagram was being used by professional services firms – primarily for videos and images for graduate recruitment and events.

Some asked about the use of TikTok. This was likely to be attractive to a younger demographic and not really our target audience – except for (graduate) recruitment purposes. One delegate noted that their previous firm (Hodge Jones and Allen) had just started using TikTok for some B2C videos, mainly for housing disrepair claims.

PM Forum runs a series of digital marketing training courses. Chloe Christine runs one on social media best practice Social media best practice – PM Forum

How can we encourage more people to come to in person events?

Historically, there were about 30% no shows to in person events but this has increased. Some firms reported that the figure was now 40%-50%.

There were comments that now so many people were hybrid working, it was harder to convince them to invest the time and money to travel to in person events. So it was important to add as much value as possible to encourage attendance.

There were suggestions about making in person events as attractive as possible. For example, having high quality or external guest speakers, using an unusual format or a tempting venue. Some suggested “piggybacking” your event on other events (this is common practice with major exhibitions and conferences such as MIPIM). Others commented that smaller, more exclusive events (such as roundtable dinners) were worth considering.

Others suggested asking partners to email their registered clients the day before with a check in email. You can harness the psychological impact of consistency by asking clients to confirm their attendance in advance (as restaurants do).  Influence – Cialdini’s six principles of the psychology of persuasion (

Focus on the aims. What is the real aim here? How else can we achieve the aims rather than with in person events? A targeted sales strategy might be more effective.

Which AI tools are others currently using?

At the last Proactive Marketing/BD session we concentrated on CRM systems as well as systems for design and events: Proactive marketing and business development executives – CRM ( 

At this session, delegates again mentioned workflow and project management tools Monday (“super useful, also great to see what the wider team are working on and where there’s capacity”) and Trello (“helps keep track of things”). Another delegate mentioned they were using ON24 | Intelligent Engagement & Webinar Platform.

Some noted that there are so many AI tools that it was hard to know which ones were useful. I mentioned that early on I had used Jasper | AI copilot for enterprise marketing teams but now mostly use ChatGPT (and Perplexity app on my phone).  Other delegates commented:

  • We are using Bing CoPilot and it is great for summarising articles, transcribing podcasts etc.
  • We’re currently implementing a new video generator called Lumin 5 which is amazing – you just have to input some written content (an article etc.) and it generates a short video to post on socials

In June 2023, Bidwells property consultancy described its use of ChatGPT in content creation – achieving significant savings in time Lessons from digital marketing webinars (June 2023) ( The firm was also nominated in “Best Use of AI” at the B2B Marketing Awards – Using a combination of, Descript, OpenAI,, Claude, Perplexity, Midjourney and Zapier. Bidwells has created a system that has led to a 6186% return on investment – further details in this April 2024 post: Marketing and BD case studies in legal, accountancy, consultancy (

In February 2024, Alastair Banks did an excellent webinar (hosted by Grace Williams, co-chair of PM Forum South West and Head of Marketing at Michelmores) on Generative AI – Going Beyond the Content… ( PM Forum members can watch the video on a playlist on the Skills Development – PM Forum. He is also speaking at this year’s PM Forum Conference on Thursday 26th September.

Delegate takeaways and actions

  • The theory was a really good recap – had definitely forgotten a few aspects from my degree
  • Great to get a refreshed, holistic view of the different areas of marketing and business development and how they work together to achieve a common goal in accordance with the wider strategy of the firm
  • What did I do today to be proactive, and what will I do tomorrow?
  • Understand the real priorities (not just urgency)
  • Make more effort to be more assertive with fee-earners meetings Assertiveness skills – getting what you want and saying “No” (
  • Take 15 minutes a day to reflect on what I could do tomorrow
  • Interesting to learn how other firms increase fee-earner and client engagement with events and social media posts
  • It’s been great to learn some new techniques to engage fee-earners
  • Reflect on the slides and look into the books/resources to upskill and develop even further
  • Review and add to my personal development plan.
  • I found the graphic (visualising the gap between marketing people and fee earners) really useful – think about how I can add value in that gap (selling) will be something I take forward
  • The discussion around gaining buy-in from fee-earners was really useful
  • Review my key priorities and consider being more assertive with the fee-earners

Selected delegate poll results

Delegates appreciate seeing their poll responses so they can compare and benchmark themselves against their peers.

How confident do you feel in your role?



Start of session End of session
5 8%
6 25% 23%
7 42% 23%
8 8% 23%
9 8% 31%
10 8% 0%


Do you have any marketing qualifications?

  • 42% Yes
  • 58% No

Is your role mainly:

  •  8%      Strategic marketing
  • 62%    Tactical marketing/communications
  • 0%      Information management/analyst/administration
  • 8%      Selling/pitching
  • 15%    Relationship management/development
  • 8%     All of the above

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

  • 92% Market/industry sector
  • 58% Size of business
  • 33% Job function
  • 67% Geography/region
  • 50% Nature of relationships

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

  • 83% The firm
  • 92% The markets we serve
  • 83% The products/services we promote
  • 50% Each territory/region
  • 50% Individual fee-earners

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

  • 25% Really well across the firm
  • 50% Good in some teams
  • 17% OK
  • 8%   Not very well

Do you measure client satisfaction?

  • 58% Yes – across the whole firm and all clients regularly
  • 25% Yes – for our largest clients
  •  8%  Yes – for some clients or periodically
  •  8%  No

Do you have crisis management plans at your firm?

  • 17% Yes
  • 83% No

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

  • 75% Web design/development
  • 58% Design and creative
  • 58% SEO
  • 58% PR, public relations and copywriting
  • 50% Brand
  • 42% Data management/analytics
  • 17% PPC
  • 17% Mailings
  • 17% Events support
  • 8%  Other (Recruitment agencies)

Do you have people reporting directly to you?

  • 45%  Yes
  • 9%     I used to
  • 45%  No
  • 0%     I will soon

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

  • 0% Never
  • 92% Occasionally
  • 8% Often

Have you had formal training in selling?

  • 15% Yes
  • 31% No – self-taught/experience
  • 54% No – unfamiliar with sales/selling concepts

Where is most of your time spent?

  • 46%  Marketing and business development planning
  • 23%  Awareness raising
  • 15%  Winning new business
  • 8%    Developing existing relationships
  • 8%    Lead generation

Which topics are your three highest priorities for learning?

  • 62% Strategic marketing and business development
  • 46% Campaign development
  • 38% Selling, pitching and client relationships
  • 31% Engagement and collaboration with fee-earners
  • 31% Managing and developing people
  • 23% Interpersonal skills (communication, persuasion etc)
  • 23% Strategy and change management
  • 15% Digital marketing
  • 15% Technology/innovation/automation
  • 15% Commerciality and pricing

Related proactive marketing and business development posts

Proactive marketing and business development executives – CRM ( December 2023

Preparing M&BD professionals for the future – learning, skills ( October 2023

marketing and business development (M&BD) team structures ( September 2023

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

Coaching and Consulting skills – Limiting beliefs, approaches to helping ( February 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

Six themes for Proactive Marketing and BD Executives (2019) ( January 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