Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 2: Battle Plans

While business development battles are often waged on many fronts, ultimate success almost always starts with a battle plan. No matter how large or how small the battle, a well-thought-out strategy can fortify your defenses and prevent unacceptable losses.  

Think of business development strategy and planning as a chess game. The moves you make will depend on a variety of factors. You have to understand where you are now, where you want to be and the best way to get there. 

How do you want to grow your practice or your firm? Do you want to try to cross sell to expand business with existing Clients, or should you attempt to bring in new business from prospects. Is your best opportunity to leverage your referral sources or to emphasize your experience and knowledge in a niche area or industry? Should you focus on reputation building activities or would it be more productive to get face-to-face with Clients and prospects? Only when you have considered all of these moves will you be prepared to battle it out.

You must also take into consideration the moves of your opponents. The better you can anticipate their moves, the better prepared you will be to outflank them. You need to pay close attention to what your competitors are doing – and what they are failing to do. Which markets are they in now, and which ones do they plan to enter? Which Clients do they have now - and who do they plan to go after? Which practices areas do they currently focus on, and which ones may they be thinking about adding or eliminating? How are they perceived in the market – and what are they doing to affect or change this perception. 

Before you can answer all of these questions and really plan your strategy, you will likely need some intel…

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Categorizing CRM Contacts - Let me Count the Ways

Categories are frequently used to break your CRM database into more manageable groups or classifications or to target or segment your contacts. There are many reasons - and variety of ways - to categorize your CRM contacts:

They Love Me

One of the most frequently used categories is 'clients'. These are often ripe targets for cross selling and other business development efforts. The idea is that, since they already are writing you checks, presumably they like you - and might want to do even more work with you. They are also the ones you want to make sure you keep in contact with and communicate with regularly.

They Love Me A Lot

Some firms go a step farther and break out their 'top clients'. These are often the ones that contribute 80% to 90% of the firm’s revenue. As a result, you may want to single them out for special treatment. Some firms focus their most strategic marketing and business development activities, such as Client teams or Client surveys, on this group.  

They Could Love Me

Another useful category might be 'prospects'. For firms that are interested in developing business with new Clients, targeting prospects may pay dividends. Plus you may just want to keep in touch with these folks on a regular basis so that the firm is top of mind when that big case comes in.

They Love Me Not

Another type of useful category is ‘status.’ No, this doesn't refer to your really cool or celebrity contacts. It's actually a good way of identifying contacts of specific types that you may want to include or exclude from a particular list or activity. For instance you might want to categorize your adversaries or competitors so you don't send them your newsletters or invite them to your seminars. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle

I just spent the day at John Remsen's Managing Partner Forum with a room full of law firm Managing Partners discussing business issues and challenges, and one of the recurring topics was business development. From the level of frustration during the discussion, it appeared that, when it comes to business development, many firms seem to be fighting a losing battle.

In a law firm, getting attorneys to take any kind of marching orders is never easy - especially when it involves non-billable time. This is compounded when it comes to business development because even the thought of having to 'sell' makes quite a few attorneys rebellious. Hence the frustration among the managing partners. It's bad enough to be at war with your competitors, but it's even more challenging when you are also having dissension among your troops.  

There are many additional reasons why business development has been challenging for some firms including: a failure to make business development a priority, inability of current compensation systems to adequately reward and encourage business development efforts and alack of attorney business development training and coaching. The discussion also surfaced some fundamental misconceptions about business development.

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be addressing some of the fundamental concepts – and weapons – for winning the war on business development…