It’s the countdown to Christmas, and we’re all looking forward to a break after what has been a rather tough year. But before we officially clock off, there are things you can do now, and in the days leading up to Christmas, to help boost your business development efforts, and get ahead in 2021.
Whether you have a dedicated business development team, or you and your firm’s lawyers contribute to the business growth, there is a range of simple things you can do maximise your efforts.
What is Legal Business Development?
Firstly, let’s separate Business development from marketing.
Business development focuses on building and strengthening relationships with potential clients, referral sources and strategic partnerships – actions that contribute to business growth and revenue.
Marketing is more outwards focus, responsible for understanding the target market, generating awareness and then communicating the benefits, capabilities and messaging to gain inquiries.
Why Business Development is important for law firms
Business development, no matter what size of a firm, is a core part of a business strategy. Further, as tech plays an increasingly significant role in our lives, its presence in law firms and how the role of business development is growing.
Five business Development tasks you can do now:
- Analyse and evaluate your relationships
- Identify and track your referrals
- Revisit your online presence
- Reflect on a firm process
- Measure your BD ROI
1. Analyse and evaluate your relationships
Your relationships are a key asset to doing business as a lawyer, don’t let them go cold.
A pile of business cards does nothing to help you stay in touch unless you build a system to organise, maintain engagement and nurture. This includes keeping track of your law school friends, legal peers, professional acquaintances and so on.
Think about your current relationships and assess where your opportunities are, where people have dropped off and where you can improve.
Evaluate your strongest connections – particularly when it comes to your clients and referral sources. Do this to plan next year in terms of resource allocation and who you want to continue to work with.
For your strongest or most valuable contacts, reflect on how you engage with them and what kind of things you do to nurture and maintain the relationship. Then determine whether you can rinse and repeat this process with future or lower-scoring clients.
A contact management system can be useful here to help manage your relationships in an efficient way.
2. Analyse your referral sources
Analyse where your business comes from, and how you ended up working with them, or for their client.
Your referral sources are strategically valuable to your firm – they’ve opened you up to their network.
Keep your referral sources up to date with your developments, and informed about the kind of work they’ve referred you. Thank those that referred work to you, and record how you or the client were first introduced.
Consider upgrading your technology and processes to track all your potential and current client interactions, referrals and requests. You can use a personal CRM such as NEXL to keep track of referrals and interactions.
By understanding how you gained referrals from sources, you can invest your time and effort into the networking and activities that bought them about. It will also help you maintain ongoing contact, add value and build trust with your strategic relationships.
Something you can do now is analyse your three strongest referral sources and outline your business relationship with them. How did you become to partner up? When did you last get in touch with them?
Use these insights to help plan your relationship management with them for next year.
3. Revisit your online presence
Your online presence is essential in a digital-first world. It is more often than not, potential future clients’ first impression of you, and an easy way for them to access information about you and your firm services.
The internet is also a way your law firm can reach a wide audience and build authority in your field.
So before the holidays, revisit your website and social media channels. Think about your elevator pitch, the type of services you offer, and any recent significant matters or events. Then check to see if the information on your website and social media channels accurately reflect this.
By revisiting your online channels on a regular basis, you can keep your information up to date, and ensure you’re always presenting the best version of your firm online.
4. Review an internal process
Lawyers spend most of the day working on client matters and the day-to-day running of business. This can leave little time to pause and take a moment to look at firm efficiency and operations.
Before the holidays is a good time to review internal work processes and see where there is room for improvement.
Maybe it is a protocol for welcoming new clients, or a system for nurturing leads/ referrals. Whatever it is, even if it is a small tweak, it can make a massive difference.
Some things you can review are:
- How productive are your processes for digital marketing?
- If your firm has a strong management team in place for growth?
- Are there manual processes you could eliminate?
5. Measure your ROI
Measure and evaluate the results of your business development efforts this year, to see what was effective and where you can create more return on investment.
It’s been a disruptive year, to say the least, and many firms may be reassessing their budget and resource allocations. Revisit your business development plan and map out your financial goals, the team requirements and what kind of activities to put effort into the firm.
It can sometimes be difficult to accurately measure efforts without hard metrics because a lot of what business development is about is forging business relationships. That’s why it is valuable to track referrals and track your contact relationships using a CRM.
Determine what the most important growth drivers are and align that with your firm strategy to plan next year’s tactics. If you are not already, assess your business development efforts on a regular basis, not just at the end of the year.