The main ingredient to create successful partnerships or BD strategies is the right mindset
In a global recession, how important is a Business Development Plan for lawyers?
Like it or not, it’s undeniable that we are heading into a global recession. Interest rates are rising, redundancies and restructures are happening at pace, and most economists are predicting a down-turn for a significant period.
However, for law firms and lawyers, some of these challenges present an opportunity to work with organisations and clients to help them navigate through uncertain times. It’s likely that litigation, insolvency, and employment practices will do well… But others may have to concentrate on maintaining, or even, growing their market share. If the total revenue of your chosen market is shrinking, you’ll want to ensure that you are winning more of the available matters in that field.
With trying times ahead, it can be confusing for lawyers to decide on the best path forward. So, to help with that, should lawyers create a Business Development Plan?
To plan or not to plan?
It’s often said that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That of course, is absolutely true. However, it’s also true that if you “fail to read your plan, you’ve set your plan up to fail!” In fact, to take this one step further – if you don’t commit to thinking about your plan, you won’t actually deliver against it – which in reality, means you may as well not have one!
Building a healthy practice rarely happens by chance. Therefore, we’d all agree that having a sound and actionable plan is a good thing. This means, it’s time to start with a blank sheet of paper, or at least a clean template for you to work with.
Don’t make your plan ‘War and Peace’
Depending on the level of detail, background research, and thinking you need, your plan can easily be delivered on one page. In fact, I’ve seen some very impressive rainmakers in the legal sector who have delivered against their BD goals using a desktop whiteboard!
When you think about it, once you understand your clients and target market, the best way to progress with this plan is to deliver the BD actions you’ve committed to. For time poor people, the smaller the list, the easier it is to know what you actually need to do, and when to do it.
So, really it is a case of defining your BD or client development strategy first. There are lots of tools available online, this BD Client Action Plan being a good example. Secondly, it’s necessary to commit to, say, three actions which you will deliver at a certain time – and achieving those. Once one of the actions have been completed, replace it with a new one. Suddenly, your BD or client development strategy has become an action-oriented plan that you deliver on!
Make sure your plans are realistic and achievable
As an example, many lawyers (and in fact many professionals), may have ‘writing a book’ as part of their marketing/promotional plans. Even if this is a short eBook, ask yourself honestly – will you have time this year to complete it? If you don’t currently have the time, will you make time? If you don’t have the time and you won’t make time – remove it from this year’s plan.
Focus on activities that will make a difference this year, those activities that you will commit to and deliver against. If it’s getting a handle on LinkedIn and your personal brand, then fantastic – commit to that. It may even be delivering a series of regular webinars or seminars. Whatever you decide, ensure your goals are measurable and achievable.
Why a fresh BD plan is needed this year
The main ingredient to create successful partnerships or BD strategies is the right mindset. Focus on who you need to build better business relationships with this year, how you will build those connections, and then deliver an activity plan for you to follow. Whatever you do, don’t just rehash last year’s plan – because if you didn’t follow it then, there’s little chance you’ll follow it now!