Lawyers and “business development”: from theory to practice

In theory: partners know the basics

A partner’s customer development activities should be part of a plan developed in accordance with its company’s strategy and carefully planned, ensuring that priority areas of action are chosen so as not to fragment its efforts and resources.

And it goes without saying that to be effective, a partner’s development strategy must be based on the needs of its existing or target customers to offer answers and solutions adapted to their needs.

Another fundamental factor in a market where customer loyalty is less strong: it is essential to remain present and visible to the most important customers, who are increasingly in demand these days and have the unfortunate tendency to not only think of you if you are regularly visible on their radar.

Meetings and exchanges as frequent as possible, regular information transfer in the form of warnings or more informal messages… You should strive to “anchore” with your customers in order to build a close relationship.

Finally, in order to clearly identify new trends and the needs of its customers, the partner must leave its office and participate in the ecosystems associated with its activities. This is the best way to be informed, to know what is going on and to seize all the opportunities that can arise thanks to the contacts made in these ecosystems.

In practice: difficulties in implementation

While most attorneys are familiar with the theory and basics of business development, many of them suffer from a lack of efficiency in execution. This is due to a number of difficulties that they often encounter in the exercise of their profession.

Starting with the fact that you are constantly absorbed by the daily management and a very busy agenda, regularly disrupted by calamities.

Partners are also often dependent on the performance of their teams and the marketing departments of their company. Ultimately, processing files and managing teams too often take precedence over development activities.

Employees also struggle to meet the needs of their customers because they themselves struggle to introduce themselves, define their characteristics and their value proposition. And what applies to their own activities is even more true for those of their employees whose activities they sometimes find difficult to understand.

Finally, which is unfortunate, too often employees are alone in their development activities, while teamwork in this area strengthens the effectiveness and presence of employees in their market.

The weakness of the ‘collective’ within the company and the reluctance of some to open up their customer portfolio to others, to share contacts with colleagues who may be competitors tomorrow, are unfortunately obstacles to the development of the company.

So what to do in practice?

However, these difficulties are not insurmountable. It is possible to work on this by tackling each problem individually and significantly improving the overall result.

First of all, you need to know how to stand out, cultivate your identity and characterize your offering. Too often, both partners and their company fail to characterize their value proposition. However, it is with an elaborated value proposition that you create your differentiation, that you facilitate the creation of your reputation, that you facilitate your commercial development and that of a cohesive network.

Moreover, even if it is a platitude, “business development” activities should be part of the daily activities of the lawyer by working on them methodically and regularly. To do this, everyone has to find their own resources (dashboard to monitor their development, etc.)

Likewise, to give yourself every chance of success, you must have your “BD” roadmap for the current year, to know what you want to do and achieve by being concrete, realistic and measurable, while answering the following questions: which customers should be strengthened, which prospects should be developed, in which sector of activity should we strengthen, how do we reach our target customers?

Employees tend to be opportunistic in their development activities and to multiply initiatives without any real coherence, which undermines their effectiveness and unfortunately does not deliver the expected results.

For example, objectively speaking, employees should spend more time exploiting their contacts and networks. Too often we find that the contacts of collaborators (clients, prescribers, foreign correspondents, etc.) lie fallow and are insufficiently exploited, when in today’s world there are several connecting tools and can prove to be very effective.

Finally, we can only encourage the partners to collaborate in their development activities in order to jointly promote their multidisciplinary responses to the needs of their customers, thus demonstrating the depth and credibility of their company’s expertise.

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