Creating a Successful Business Development Culture – a 90-day Leadership Roadmap

Presentation Review: “Creating a Successful Business Development Culture – a 90-day Leadership Roadmap” by Diana Courson, CMO, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP and Amanda Loesch, CMO, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C.

Summary by Amy P. Verhulst, Senior Marketing Manager, Coats Rose, P.C.

The “Impact Marketing for Small and Mid-Sized Law Firms” pre-conference programs at the 2018 LMA Annual Conference includes a plethora of information and skills that are directly actionable by the legal marketers in the small/mid-sized law firm space.  This was hands-down some of the best, practical professional development that I have received in a number of years.  (Fair warning: personal endorsement ahead!)  I recommend those in the small/mid-sized firm space consider attending this per-con program at the 2019 LMA Annual Conference in Atlanta, particularly if you are a “department of one,” as I am.  The programming and training presented was exceptional.  I returned to my firm and immediately put to use what I learned at the conference and executed the plans that I created while in the sessions. Here is my summary of “Creating a Successful Business Development Culture – a 90-day Leadership Roadmap”:

Diana and Amanda laid out a 12-week roadmap approach to creating a business development culture for your law firm.

  • Week 1-2 – Define It – Define what success means to you and the firm.  What does business development mean to the firm? What BD efforts are already in place? What worked and didn’t work?
  • Week 3-4 – Research – You need DATA! Look at your client pool – who are your targets? What is the strategy? Create client profiles for targets. Analyze your Top 25 clients and get a 3-5 year look back on net fees.  Where are the fees now?  Look at the trend lines: where did the business go?  Look at new clients: what are the opportunities? Use your competitive intelligence (CI) tools which may include firm subscriptions (Ex: Lexis, Westlaw, Courthouse News, Hoovers, etc.) or publicly available information (ex: SEC reports, news searches, Google alerts). Use internal firm resources in your accounting and library departments.  Be mindful of potential landmines and make small steps toward BD every day. AVOID the “service partner mentality” attorneys (if possible) and be mindful of promoting what’s in it for the participating attorneys. Inquire (if you don’t already know) about how the firms tracks business development efforts (hours) – do attorneys get credit for the time the put in AND the BD win in the end?
  • Week 5-6 – Socialize It – Be mindful of your firm’s culture – it will define your approach.  Utilize personality assessments (such as DISC) and play to the specific personality type of the participating attorneys.  Make the attorneys your ambassadors.  Get them talking about their BD efforts. Celebrate the victories no matter how small – a win is a WIN! – and this will build momentum for your BD culture movement.
  • Week 7-10 – Execution and Tracking – Be realistic and remember: it takes on average over two years to develop a new contact into a client.  Hold partner meetings and provide templates for BD goal setting and tracking contacts.  It was noted that on average, holding 4-6 partner meetings seemed to be right for momentum to pick up and the rhythms set-in.  Use the professional coaching approach: provide BD coaching for six months, then it’s up and out – time for the attorney(s) continue on their prescribed course of BD actions.  Other ways to ignite a BD culture?  Hold brown bag lunches with their lawyers, host a quarterly BD-focused program for junior lawyers, host targeted, significant client events, or utilize gamification such as a client visit incentive programs.
  • Week 11-12 – Reporting on Results – Report, report, report.  Report on significant activity, including pitch wins, speaking engagements, new clients, new matters.  Use an activity tracker and have a list of this data ready to go.  Have your lawyers feed you the information you need.  Check in regularly with them using the best follow-up form for each attorney, whether that is by email, by “darkening their door,” in a practice group meeting or via their paralegal when a deal has closed or a case has been decided.
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