Monday, January 5, 2009

Developing Business Efficiently is a Necessity in Today’s Economy©

It's a good time to re-assess, re-direct and/or even upgrade your firm’s investments in business and client development. Given the abrupt, negative change in the economic climate, now is the time to re-visit your 2009-10 client development action plans at the firm, regional, practice/industry group, office and/or individual attorney levels and make changes that will pay off in the near term and after 2010. Below are some time-proven ways to help generate profitable work beginning today:

Provide quality, effective business development support to your firm's key rainmakers - For many reasons, too many law firms provide little or no business development support/assistance to their top rainmakers. Often, major rainmakers are very individualistic and do not want or need any help in developing new business. However, that is not the case for all major rainmakers (who constitute only approximately 5-7% of the equity partners in any single firm). As a group, they are savvy and most have the firm's best interests at heart in wanting to continue profitable growth. Now is the time to check in with all the major rainmakers in your firm - especially those who have used internal marketing/business development support in the past, are interested in developing more work for the firm and are able to be team players. Directing additional, credible and useful support and investments behind their efforts - like making a top notch business development coach for lawyers available to them - can pay off fast.

Conduct a formal audit/review of the current marketing and business development efforts, infrastructure and team - Either internally or with the assistance of qualified, outside consultants, carefully review your plans, people, processes, procedures, deliverables and results. Too many firm budgets are spent disproportionately on traditional, non-contact marketing tools such as newsletters, media exposure, seminars, blogs, and/or websites to develop business - when statistics show that approximately 95% of all new business is generated in-person, one-to-one or in very small groups. Traditional, non-contact marketing tools like the above simply take too long to generate actual new business are expensive and their results are hard to measure. The more effective way is to use a direct approach and proven, experienced assistance as needed.

Use the best possible business/client development training and coaching for your practice groups, offices and lawyers who are “mist makers” - For many firms, a lot of valuable time has been wasted over the years attending less than great business and client development training courses and coaching programs. Common mistakes include: offering programs that are only "talking head" presentations with no individual follow-up; other programs require mandatory attendance regardless of whether or not attendees are interested in becoming better rainmakers/service providers; the worst are programs where the content is either superficial, misdirected and/or not useful for lawyers. These common mistakes result in reducing the credibility of ALL business development training and coaching, when good programs are available. Not all outside trainers/consultants are truly credible nor have programs that are useful, valuable and/or actually work for lawyers. As one law firm CMO said recently "There are really only a handful of great outside consultants/trainers for law firms. There are hundreds who claim competence but do not deliver."

Consider outsourcing key, revenue-driving functions like business/client development coaching - Too often, internal law firm marketers are expected to "do it all" - soup to nuts – both marketing and business development, which results in their time being spent "a little on a lot" and dilutes results. The fact is that marketing, business development, training and coaching are each separate and distinct disciplines. The difference between marketing and business development is a lot like the difference between being a general practitioner versus an intellectual property litigator - those are two very different practices and require vastly differing (yet related) bodies of knowledge and capability. Sure, general practitioners can say they can handle IP litigation, but do they have the specialized knowledge and ability needed? The same contrast applies to years of experience - an IP litigator with 5 years experience likely does not have all the capabilities of one with 25 years experience. Many talented CMOs know this and use skilled and experienced outside resources to augment their efforts and capabilities to help contribute to bottom line growth.

To read more on this subject, visit, Complimentary Resources, Trend Reports.

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