6 Steps to a Successful Business Development Plan
6 Steps to a Successful Business Development Plan
by Melissa Rogozinski, Chief Executive Officer
In our last article, How to Properly Align Marketing, Business Development and Sales, we provided a high level explanation of the three business functions that must work together to drive and maintain revenue for your law firm. The next articles in this series will dive deep, providing insight and guidance to help you get the most out of the resources you commit to each of them.
Business development is a critical part of a law firm’s growth strategy. It balances client success, competitive marketing and new acquisitions in order to sustain the firm’s reputation as a high-quality service provider. It is the bridge between marketing and sales.
Here are six steps to building a modern business development plan that is guaranteed to drive growth through client success and thought leadership.
1. Growth Through Existing Clients
Existing customers are the backbone of your business. Through retention, they provide lifetime value and are likely to refer others to your brand. Stay on their radar by letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Nurture current clients with simple handwritten notes to say “thank you”, recognize special occasions and send birthday wishes. Ask your legal assistant to collect addresses, phone numbers, birthdays as well as kids’ names and birthdays, and other dates of celebration. Store this information in a customer relationship management tool (CRM) and use the task notification function to send email reminders to you so you don’t forget.
Utilizing cross-pollination efforts within the firm’s services offering adds significant value and depth to the relationship with the client. Be sure to schedule time to ask clients if there are other ways you can help them.
Word-of-mouth is still one of the best forms of marketing, so don’t forget to request referrals from clients. It’s often much more comfortable to hire a recommendation rather than taking a chance on an unknown.
2. Growth Through Thought Leadership
The best way to build a pipeline of new prospects is through thought leadership. Thought leadership is a tactic content marketers use to build credibility. The main goal of thought leadership is to become recognized as an expert and used as a go-to resource in your field.
To become a thought leader, one might create and promote buyer-centric content, write op-ed pieces, find opportunities to be a speaker, become active in your prospect’s business community, and leverage the power of digital marketing channels.
If you’re not consistently creating knowledge resources for your target audience, then you are leaving valuable opportunities on the table for your competitors.
3. Growth Through Knowledge Distribution
Did you know that seventy percent of the buying journey for a business professional is completed through individual research?
Buyers seek information that helps them determine the best products or services that provide solutions and help them with business objectives. The content you develop should be the type of go-to resource buyers find in their search for information.
When posting content to your business website, make sure to include links to important resources and references, graphics and Calls-to-Action (CTAs) that are “above the fold” and inviting. Decide how many posts you can create from that content for social media distribution, and use email nurturing campaigns to stay in front of prospects until they are ready to engage with your services.
Also, make sure the CTA forms on your website, social media channels and email campaigns are integrated with your firm’s CRM. Synching these tools will allow you to run analytics reports to identify interested leads.
4. Growth Through Speaking Opportunities
When preparing for a speaking engagement, make sure you have clear business objectives, select the most beneficial events, and give yourself enough time to prepare.
“As in-house counsel, I look for strategic viewpoints of the speaker that can be translated into actionable business and legal requirements which enhance our organization’s compliance position,” Antonette Igbenoba, Esq., CIPP-US, CIPM, Privacy and Ethics Counsel at Upwork.
Instead of “Death-by-PowerPoint” or a one-way channel of communication, create an engaging and conversational environment, prepare polls, planned questions and answers, surveys and hands-on training tasks, and interject these activities throughout knowledge sessions. Incorporate an appropriate follow-up strategy, and avoid pay-to-play opportunities.
5. Growth Through LinkedIn
We tell prospects and clients all the time, “you never know who’s watching or who sharing your content with a broader audience.”
LinkedIn is a significant power source to generate new prospects and referrals for your business. What makes LinkedIn tick? Engagement! The more you and others post, engage, comment and share on LinkedIn, the more your content and posts will show up on feeds, helping you gain exposure and opportunities.
I receive numerous connections and messages through LinkedIn from professionals who have read articles I’ve written for LegalTech News and Law Journal Network. Some have shared the articles with their organizations, but most want more information about our company’s services. A couple were from other countries and, yes, we have gained several new clients as a result.
Leveraging LinkedIn to deliver good content and make connections can prove exponential to your business. Please see our LinkedIn Training videos to learn more!
6. Growth Through Scheduling
Schedule tasks on your calendar like appointments, maintain a cadence, and make sure to not miss or skip tasks.
In the first week of the month, plan to send out handwritten “thank you” and special occasion notes, and write a blog article. For the second week, record a video for the blog, and send out a nurturing email campaign. The third week can be used for outreach to current clients for a satisfaction pulse and requests for referrals. The last week of the month can be used to prepare birthday cards and follow-up on any tasks left undone.
Twice a week, schedule a fifteen-minute session to check your LinkedIn feed, and engage.
The practice of law in the United States is a slow process, whether it’s litigation, transactional work, business law or any other practice area. It’s a culture to which we are accustomed. So, it should come as no surprise that business development for high value legal services also takes time and effort.
Be patient. Be realistic about your expectations. Prepare and execute a thorough business development plan, and don’t give up. Stay the course, no matter the challenges, and it will always yield the desired results.