Implementing a new sales approach across your firm, or even putting in a new CRM system, will not in isolation, create a client centric culture. These initiatives may not even lead to any significant revenue gains. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a go-to-market or sales approach, and you absolutely should have a CRM in place. However, to get the most from both of these systems and processes you need to support it with active engagement programmes. Active BD coaching is an ideal way to do just that.
The reason is that to change a culture, particularly within a law-firm, your people need to be guided and supported through the journey. In the world of the billable hour and time-recording, investing effort into non-billable work needs to be clearly explained, and the long-term benefits of doing so need to be articulated and understood across the firm. An effective way of doing this is through active BD Coaching.
What is ‘active’ BD Coaching?
There are many forms of coaching, and a key part of employing what I term ‘active’ coaching, is that it means in coaching sessions – actions are not only set, they are often carried out. I found that when working within professional services firms for the first time, and trying to coach and mentor senior people to improve their client relationship and sales skills, I was often met with ‘death by agreement’.
What was happening was we were agreeing actions in the meeting, and then I’d come back for the next meeting 3-6 weeks later, and nothing had been actioned. I quickly learnt that when trying to build in new ways of working and approaching clients with those I was working with, while they saw the need to do it, their fear or lack of desire to change, was holding them back. Many were skilled at avoidance behaviour and agreeing to do something meant I left, and they could get back on with their day-to-day work.
To break this cycle, we started to move on to doing the actions in the meeting where possible. This might mean writing a client email, or an email to a prospective client to get a meeting together. It may mean reviewing an email before sending it, or even updating a LinkedIn profile during the session. Of course, not all actions can be carried out in a meeting, but by simply getting some done in a sort of ‘show, tell, do’ style of coaching, progress was made.
BD Coaches are like Personal Trainers
To get fit you don’t need a personal trainer. It’s simple really, eat a bit less and move a lot more. There’s a myriad of free workouts available on YouTube, after being in lockdowns most of us are acutely aware of this now. However, with no-one guiding you, you don’t always execute the exercises correctly. Without someone standing over you, you may decide to do a couple of press-ups less, or perhaps not exercise for the full duration.
It’s much the same with a BD coach. Having regular sessions and check-ins means that you start to carry out your actions. Once you start doing this, you start to form habits. Once you have habits in place, you are now a regular BD practitioner. In a nutshell, that is how you get BD fit, with the help of a BD coach. And put simply, that is how BD coaching helps a law firm to create a client centric culture.
Cultural change needs support
To make any organisational change, your people need support. Across a law-firm with its myriad of different practices and businesses within businesses, this is perhaps even more the case. Having an effective coaching programme in place is one key way of affecting this change.
Of course, to be successful, you need to have the right coaches in place. These BD coaches could be external consultants, or they may even exist within your business, or it could be a combination of both. Finding the right BD coaches is essential for your programme’s success, which is why I’ll be reviewing the options in my next article for Nexl.
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