Every year around this time I see dozens of business development plans from new and aspiring partners looking to grow their client base. The process, however, can be a challenging one. Very little business development training is provided by law firms, and young partners are often surprised to find the plan they have meticulously detailed is difficult to execute.
There is one detail I have found to be a consistent indicator of whether a business development plan will be executed effectively. It’s not the number of target clients, the commitment of time to sales and marketing, or even past successes.
It’s whether the clients are described as organisations or as people.
Most business development plans that I see will describe their target clients as organisations. Lawyers will outline the objectives of the business and may even list the types of problems that they can help solve.
But this is too vague: relationships are built with people, not organisations.
The best business development plans will go two steps further by identifying the individual decision makers within the target clients, and then detailing a plan to establish or develop a relationship with these people.
The most profitable adviser-client relationships exist where there is a significant and strategic investment of time into strengthening interpersonal ties.