Business Development Strategy

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1 How-To-Guide Business Development Strategy This How-To-Guide is part of the Bellwether 2015 series. Visit to download the full report and other supporting resources to help your firm prepare for the Age of the Client.

2 2 Business development strategy, plans and management Every firm needs to develop business if it is to survive and thrive. Yet lawyers often disagree about which is the best method of business development for their area of law, locality, market or firm. The reason is simple - there are many ways to tackle business development in a law firm. Unless you are blessed with a couple of brilliant rainmakers who magically conjure up a steady stream of highly profitable work you will need to have a business development strategy and plans and actively manage the process. You will also need the appropriate resources, policies and systems in place. It will be difficult to prepare a suitable business development strategy and plans if there is no overall agreement within your firm about what you hope to achieve - many firms will simply have a business plan that indicates the number of lawyers they intend to employ and the overall fees and profits they wish to generate as a result. This how-to-guide explains what business development is, why there are so many different approaches (and the strengths and weaknesses of each one) and how you can take a structured and planned approach to business development in your firm.

3 3 What is business development? Business development is a series of activities that enable you to generate more work for your lawyers - whether from existing clients and referrers or from new ones. The business development process consists of three main activities: marketing selling client and referrer development

4 4 Marketing Marketing is the process where you: analyse your markets, perhaps breaking them down into segments or niches decide which legal services you will be promoting to which markets package up your services and products to meet the current and emerging needs of those markets decide how to differentiate your firm s offerings from other firms agree the pricing strategy develop a series of promotional activities to communicate with your target audience As well as making decisions about which legal services you will be promoting to which markets, the main purpose of marketing is to raise your profile and generate interest from appropriate clients, contacts and referrers. You should use a mix of communications activities to promote your services. Traditional methods Conference speaking Seminars Networking Meetings Digital methods Online advertising Social media (blogging, LinkedIn, Google+) E-alerts Webinars

5 5 Selling Selling is what happens when a new client or a referrer expresses an interest in you, your services or your firm. They may have made contact through social media, ed or telephoned for further information, met you at an event or invited you to a meeting. A dialogue has begun, perhaps a relationship, and hopefully this interest will be converted into a client in due course. It is not realistic that every interest expressed will result in business, but it follows that the more interest you generate the greater the likelihood some of this will convert. Another way to think about these sales processes is to consider the sales pipeline illustrated in the following diagram. Plan campaign Research Targeting Databases Raise awareness Media relations Advertising Social media Generate enquiries Website Publications Establish contact Research Networking Meetings The time it takes to move from first contact to client may vary significantly for different types of legal services and clients, eg in commercial legal services it may be several months, in consumer legal services it may be a matter of days. You will need to deploy different tools and techniques depending on each stage of the pipeline. The selling process helps individual lawyers understand prospective clients, recognise their needs and ensure they propose suitable solutions, possibly through pitches or proposals, to win business and convert these prospects to clients. Win work Estimates Proposals Selling Convert to client Develop interest Newsletters Seminars Regular contact Develop relationship Client care Service delivery Relationship development Additional work and services

6 6 How-to-guide:Business Development Strategy Client and referrer development Once you have secured a client you need to develop the relationship with a view to generating more work. 1 Prospect In most law firms, the majority of work will come from existing clients and referrers. This is why the concept of cross-selling-looking for opportunities to sell additional services, perhaps in different areas of law to existing clients and referrers-is so important. It is also why client service and the concept of client relationship management, sometimes called key account management, is crucial. It is sometimes helpful, particularly for commercial law clients and key referrer relationships, to think about the stages you navigate to generate a satisfied client or referrer who refers work to you. 2 Contact 3 Customer 4 Client 5 Subscriber 6 Advocate Again, you will need different approaches and techniques depending on what you are trying to achieve, eg capturing new contacts or developing existing relationships. You will need a system or database to help you manage the information.

7 7 What type of business development strategy is right for you and your firm? This depends on your current situation, your market, your aims and a whole host of other factors. If you are in a very large and established law firm you may have a strong brand, a high profile and many existing relationships with the majority of major organisations that you want as clients. It is likely that the focus of your firm s strategy will be on client and referrer development, particularly client relationship management. At the other end of the spectrum, if you are a relatively small firm you will need to concentrate on marketing. This means: analysing market conditions and opportunities building your knowledge of potential clients and referrers selecting which legal services you will promote You will also need to craft a promotional strategy to raise your profile, reach your target audience and generate interaction that uses the right blend of: traditional communication activities, eg media relations, speaking engagements, seminars, networking digital techniques, eg websites, e-newsletters, blogs, social media, online advertising Your business development activities will also depend on the nature of the legal services you want to promote, eg where your services are primarily transactional, such as corporate finance, dispute resolution or personal injury, you will either adopt a strategy of constant profile raising (or perhaps advertising if you are in markets such as personal injury) to generate a stream of new enquiries, or concentrate on developing relationships with key organisations who can refer work to you regularly. Where your legal services are primarily relationship based, eg employment law or private client services, you may have a more balanced approach where marketing, selling and relationship management are used in equal proportion. Most lawyers need to have a balance of activities, although lawyers at the start of their career may need to invest more time in generating contacts compared to experienced lawyers who already have a strong set of client and referrer relationships.

8 8 Taking a joined up approach In a smaller firm it is possible that each lawyer could pursue their own marketing and sales activities without any recourse to, or impact on, other lawyers. This is very much the eat what you kill approach prevalent in many US firms where the emphasis is on personal relationships and selling. In larger firms you will need to coordinate and control the process to: ensure everyone is pursuing similar goals and clients with the same message that is in line with the firm s overall strategy use the limited resources available to good effect avoid lawyers making multiple approaches to the same organisations generate the results you expect You need a business development plan which supports the firm s business plan and overall strategy-it may need to address business development activities at a firm-wide level, eg what infrastructure is in place with regards to client databases and marketing resources, but may also need to include plans for each region, office, sector or legal department. Some firms are internally focused and separate plans are developed for each legal department. In other firms there is a market-oriented approach and legal teams combine to produce teams focused on particular markets or segments. Typically, commercial firms target particular sectors such as banking, media, real estate or biotech. Once the plans are in place, it should be possible to identify which business development activities might be appropriate for each lawyer depending on his/her seniority, business development skills, market and legal discipline.

9 Six steps to producing a business development plan 9 The Practice Notes mentioned below will take you through the process of producing a business development plan in detail, and provide you with more in-depth guidance on the key aspects of business development. These practice notes are available within Lexis PSL Practice Management. See page 10 for more information and contact details. You can follow this basic strategic process to produce a business development plan: Step Activity Practice Note * Templates 1 2 Analysis Undertake analysis to understand where you are now Business development planningundertaking internal and external analysis Set goals Be clear on where you want to be Business development goal and objective setting Internal business development analysisshort-form Internal business development analysislong-form External business development market analysis-long-form Business development skills assessment Business development goals/aims and objectives 3 Formulate a strategy Think about how will you get to where you want to be Developing a business development and marketing strategy Business development and marketing strategy planning 4 Choosing business development activities Identify what campaigns or activities are needed Preparing business development and marketing campaigns and activities Business development and marketing campaign and content planning 5 Resource planning Assess how much time and money you will need to invest Managing business development and marketing resources Marketing and business development cash and time budget template 6 Create a business development and marketing plan Consolidate the information gathered in steps 1-5 into a plan that sets out what you are doing, why and how you are going to achieve the goals and objectives Creating a business development and marketing plan Summary business development and marketing plan Short-form business development and marketing plan Detailed business development and marketing plan *These practice notes are available within Lexis PSL Practice Management. See page 10 for more information and contact details.

10 10 Lexis PSL Practice Management This guide is a practice note taken from LexisPSL Practice Management. LexisPSL Practice Management is the essential online toolkit for firms, aimed at those people who run the business side of law firms. Clear, concise practice notes by leading experts spell out exactly what good management looks like. A huge bank of templates, checklists and examples mean you don t have to reinvent the wheel and our alerts keep you updated with what s happening across the legal market. For more information on how LexisNexis online solutions can help your firm, please: Call: Visit:

11 11 About the authors Allison Wooddisse Head of Lexis PSL Practice Compliance LexisNexis Allison Wooddisse is a former partner of Shoosmiths, with extensive experience of legal management and practice compliance. She has recently completed an LLM in Corporate Governance, focusing on regulation of the legal sector and the challenges presented by the Legal Services Act. Laura Spooner Associate LexisNexis Laura joined LexisNexis in February 2011 as a Practice Compliance Associate. She is a Lexcel trained consultant and former Risk and Compliance Manager at Collyer Bristow Solicitors LLP, an international City firm, with extensive experience of legal management and practice compliance. She has been involved in law firm management and compliance for ten years with particular emphasis on financial crime prevention, complaint handling, negligence and professional indemnity insurance as well as wider law firm risk management issues. Prior to that, Laura was a regulatory consultant in the financial services sector and spent three years assisting a leading banking Silk on various publications and some high-profile commercial litigation. Emma Dickin Associate LexisNexis Emma has worked at LexisNexis for a number of years and is an expert in legal training. She is a qualified lawyer who, prior to her career at LexisNexis, worked as a legal assistant for British American Tobacco before joining a specialist property law firm.

12 Law. Tools. Business Support.. About LexisNexis Over the past 200 years, LexisNexis has combined a deep understanding of the legal profession with technology innovation to help practitioners work more productively, advise with confidence and better manage their businesses. For independent legal professionals, small to mid-size law firms and sole practitioners, LexisNexis covers over 25 specialist areas of law, with online products, priced and tailored to suit your business needs. The LexisNexis online suite consists of: Law Case law Legislation Legal developments Commentary Magazines & journals Tools Precedents Practice notes Drafting tools Forms Checklists Business support CPD Practice management Practice compliance Market intelligence Legal blogs LexisNexis online services have been developed with you in mind. Find out more today. Visit: or call: (please quote 20341). About the Independent lawyers and sole practitioners are under siege. With numerous regulatory and business challenges, who has time to practice law? Visit the where you will find expert commentary and a host of supporting resources to help your firm prepare for the Age of the Client. Subscribe today: The Future of Law. Since Reed Elsevier (UK) Limited trading as LexisNexis. Registered office 1-3 Strand London WC2N 5JR Registered in England number VAT Registered No. GB LexisNexis and the Knowledge Burst logo are trademarks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc. LexisNexis The information in this document is current as of April 2015 and is subject to change without notice.

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