Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 9: On Targets

To win the business development battle, you first have to make sure you are aiming at the right targets. Each one you miss wastes valuable, and limited, business development time and resources. As a result, the most effective targeting involves aiming at the targets that you have the best chance of hitting.

Start with your current Clients. Presumably they are already your allies, since they are currently writing you checks. To effectively develop more business with existing Clients, first prepare a plan of attack. Identify areas where they have needs that are not currently being served by your firm. Next, divide and conquer. Have your troops spread out and make new contacts within the Client’s company. Learn about their issues and approach them proactively with valuable ideas and information. 

Next you may want to join forces with referral sources who may already be on your side. This could include other professionals with complementary practices such as accounting firms, consultants or lenders. It’s likely that you both have a number of Clients who could benefit from each other’s services. Putting together joint events such as seminars or roundtables on areas of interest to joint Clients can be a good plan of attack.

Only then should you consider prospects, who may be hostile, or at least less receptive, to your advances. Because you don’t have working relationships, it can take a long time and a lot of ammunition to overcome their defenses, resulting in protracted business development battles. To improve your odds, start with prospects with whom some of your attorneys may have existing relationships. Additionally, Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) software can help you hone in on these relationships and point your top guns in the right direction. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Apple a Day Keeps CRM Failure Away Part 2 - A Bad Apple

In the past, you may have heard stories about CRM failures and disasters. CRM has been branded as an over-hyped, overpriced technology with poor adoption and little or no ROI. It’s rotten to the core. In fact, some people have even proclaimed that CRM is dead.  

In reality, CRM success is more of an apple and tree issue. It’s way too easy to blame CRM failure on the technology. Usually when CRM fails to meet expectations, the problem is not about the technology at all. It’s about the expectations.

Firms install CRM systems and suddenly expect them to solve world hunger – or at least help to feed all the hungry associates and other attorneys who need more work but have been unable or unwilling to focus on business development. End users are mesmerized by the dog and pony show and plan to implement all the bells and whistles all at once. The data is bad because the firm was not willing to devote the resources to cleaning it up ormaintaining it. There is no plan or strategy for success – and, as a result no success (shocker!). But it doesn't have to be that way…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 8: Marching Orders

To be relevant for business development, the skills learned in basic training must be put into action. This is why it is crucial that well trained troops be deployed to the field as soon as possible. In other words, they need to get out from behind their desks and go see the Clients. These are the marching orders for any successful business developer.

Let’s face it: we all know that we didn’t really learn to practice law in law school. So why would anyone expect to be a natural born business developer? Being good at business development takes practice. You have to get out and engage with the Clients.

Many times, new recruits ask how much hand-to-hand – or face-to-face – Client contact is enough. The answer is that there is never enough. But since time is limited, here are some metrics that have served other business developers well: if you can manage 2 in person meetings and 4 phone calls a week, you will soon find yourself winning frequent business development battles. You will also be gaining allies left and right. If this seems like too much time to balance with your other duties, at a minimum, do something. When it comes to business development, each little thing you do can help you, and your career, to advance. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Apple A Day Keeps CRM Failure Away

Everyone has heard the saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. OK, now I know some of you are wondering what the heck that has to do with CRM success.  

Well, sometimes it is the little things you do each day that really contribute to CRM success: taking a half hour to train new users at their desks, working with an assistant on formatting a letter, attending a practice group meeting to better understand how CRM could help the attorneys achieve their business development goals, communicating small wins to the entire firm. These little things really do add up.

So for the next few weeks, we are going to talk about the little things we can each do to make CRM more successful…  and about apples. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 7: Corps Competencies

Basic training should focus on the ‘corps’ business development skills and information that will help to prepare all recruits to win their personal business development battles. The troops should also be put through drills that will help to make all of this information actionable.

Typical drills may include things like 'ammunition loading' – gathering and analyzing information to prepare for Client meetings, 'targeting practice' – making sure to aim at the best business development prospects, 'mission readiness' - preparing for meetings with potential Clients, and 'hand-to-hand collaboration,' helping Clients to solve their problems and meet their business objectives in order to develop long-term business relationships.

While business development boot camp can be challenging, the troops who make it through should be well prepared for deployment.