In fact, if you line up your last decade’s worth of BD or partner plans, apart from the date at the top, or the change in logo, do you struggle to see any tangible differences?
If this is the case, is it really because your iron clad plans are so successful that there is absolutely no point in updating them? Or is the reality really that you see no value in these plans, and only complete them because you have to? I suspect in most cases it is the latter reason.
This means that changing the date at the top does save you time, but it means the document is basically worthless.
To plan or not to plan?
It’s often said that if you ‘fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ That is of course absolutely true. However, it is also true that if you ‘fail to read your plan, you’ve set your plan up to fail!’ In fact, to take this one a step further, if you don’t actually commit to thinking about your plan, then you won’t deliver against that plan, which means in reality you may as well not have one!
Building a healthy practice rarely happens purely by chance. Therefore, I think we’d all agree that having a sound and actionable plan is a good thing. Which means, your current cut and paste strategy needs to be ditched for this year, and instead it’s time to start with a blank sheet of paper.
Take ownership of your plan for the year
It may be very tempting if you have wider resources to get someone else to complete your plan for you. After all, you pay the management team’s, BD team’s or even practice manager’s salary. Therefore, why not get them to complete it? Put simply’ this is the reason you take zero interest in it, and doing it this way will no doubt mean you never read it!
Instead, by all means actively consult with these professionals, and get inputs and ideas from them. This can be helpful as they can challenge your thoughts and help you refine your plans. However, anything committed to paper (regardless of who actually types it) needs to be your own commitment, and ideally in your own words.
Don’t make your plan “War and peace”
Depending on the level of detail, and background research and thinking you actually need, your plan can easily be delivered on a page. I’ve actually seen some very impressive rainmakers in the legal sector who’ve delivered against their BD goals for the year by using a desktop whiteboard!
When you think about it, once you understand your clients and target market, the best way to deliver against this plan is to deliver your committed BD actions. For time poor people, the smaller the list, the easier it is to actually know what you need to do, and when to do it.
So, it really is a case of defining your BD or client development strategy first. There are a lot of tools available online, this BD Client Action Plan being a good example. Then committing to, say, three actions that you will deliver in a certain period of time, and achieving them. Once you’ve completed one of the actions, replace it with a new one. Suddenly your BD or client development plan has become an action-orientated plan that you deliver on.
Make sure your plans are realistic and achievable
As an example, many lawyers, in fact many professionals might have “writing a book” as part of their promotional/marketing plans. Even if this is a short eBook, be honest with yourself, will you have the time this year to complete it? If you don’t currently have the time, will you make the time for it? If you will not make the time, then remove it from this year’s plan.
Focus on those activities that will make a difference this year. Those activities that you will commit to and deliver against. If it is getting to grips with your personal brand, and mastering LinkedIn, then fantastic, commit to that. It might even be delivering a series of regular webinars/seminars. Whatever it is, make sure it is measurable, and achievable.
Changing the date on last year’s plan is not a recipe for success
The main thing to do to develop a successful partner or BD plan, is to adopt the right mindset. Focus on who you need to build better business relationships with over the year, how you will build those relationships, and then deliver an activity plan for you to follow. Whatever you do, don’t just rehash last year’s plan. If you didn’t follow it last year, there’s little chance that you will do so this year.
About the Author
Ben Paul is the Director & Founder of The BD Ladder, a BD consultancy focused on growing law and professional services firms. He has held senior BD and marketing roles in leading legal and professional services firms. If you need help with this year’s BD plan, then download The BD Ladder’s BD Client Action Plan for free.