April Recap: Business Development Coaching - Clear Guides, Full Charts, Can’t Lose

By: Robyn Addis, Marketing Operations Manager, Ballard Spahr LLP

On April 23, 2015, the Legal Marketing Association, Metro Philadelphia Chapter, hosted an event entitled “Business Development Coaching - Clear Guides, Full Charts, Can’t Lose.” Panelists included Tim Delaney, Chief Business Development and Marketing Officer at Ballard Spahr LLP, Holly Lentz Kleeman, Chief Marketing Officer at White and Williams, and Elizabeth Mell of Mell Consulting.  The panel was moderated by Mitch Sterling, Director of Business Development at Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

The main topic of conversation, presented to a capacity crowd at Morgan Lewis, was how to implement or improve an existing business development plan in your firm.  One of the most important take-aways of the discussion was that we are now facing a hyper-competitive environment.  Work will not simply walk in the door anymore.  “The defining piece of the sale,” said Delaney, “is you as an individual.”

When asked by Sterling who the primary audience for coaching would be, all panelists agreed one-on-one coaching seemed to garner the best reaction from their attorneys.  It is important to help those who want to be helped, and to use those success stories as a starting point to work with those who need to be helped.  “I’ll make time for anyone who really wants the help,” noted Kleeman.  “We all know that business development coaching is mostly work on [the lawyer’s] part.  If they’re willing to work with us, there’s not a member on my team who isn’t willing to work with them.”

Mell noted that most of us may have versions of a similar BD Coaching checklists, but “the key is to hone [the attorneys] in on a specific task.  Either a specific industry, or a specific few companies within that industry that they really want to roll their sleeves up and work on.”  It is important not to overwhelm the attorney with too many options of what to do and who to do it for.  It is the coach’s duty to bring the attorney into focus…and know how to identify a diversion tactic when he or she sees one.

Additional key takeaways include:

  • As the coach, you must stay within your attorney’s comfort zone.
  • Make sure you work with the attorney to clearly define what he or she wants to accomplish and what the ultimate goal is.
  • Don’t use big words or scary labels — success stories speak for themselves.
  • Create a vehicle to evangelize the coaching message throughout your firm, either through coaching champions or success stories.
  • Use the internal and external research and data available to you - don’t reinvent the wheel.
  • Tie coaching and BD plans to a defined budget.


 

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