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  • Ruth Napier

Unleashing growth - BD tools and techniques for lawyers

What's in your BD toolshed?

In the world of business development, professional services firms face the ever-present challenge of nurturing growth and cultivating success. Just as a gardener needs various implements to tend to different aspects of their garden, law firms rely on a range of tools to cultivate their client base, nurture relationships, and flourish.

So what BD tools, techniques, and best practices are critical for your firm's success?

What should be in your toolshed?

Top BD tools and techniques for lawyers

1. The spade = Research and market analysis

Every gardener* knows that a sturdy spade is essential for breaking new ground and preparing the soil for planting.

Successful law firms use research and market analysis to identify potential opportunities, understand client needs, and anticipate market trends. Just as a spade helps a gardener dig deep, research and market analysis equip businesses with valuable insights, enabling them to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies.

*No=dig gardeners might restrict usage to planting only!

2. The pruning shears = Client relationship management

Pruning shears are indispensable for gardeners seeking to shape and promote healthy growth.

Robust client relationship management techniques help law firms cultivate and nurture strong connections with their clients. By actively listening, addressing their needs, and providing exceptional service, firms can maintain long-term relationships, maximize client satisfaction, and foster a loyal clientele.

3. The watering can = Networking & referrals

For a garden to thrive, plants need regular watering and few of us have exactly the right amount of rainfall at the right time for every type of plant we are trying to cultivate.

Your network of contacts doesn't maintain itself - it needs cultivating. Giving and seeking referrals helps sustain growth. Attending industry events, joining professional associations, and leveraging digital platforms are watering the seeds of potential collaborations, partnerships, and new business opportunities. Effective networking creates a fertile environment for growth and expansion: and needs to be a core skillset for your lawyers.

4. The rake = Marketing & branding

A rake plays a crucial role in a gardener's quest to keep the garden neat, tidy, and visually appealing.

Strategic marketing and branding initiatives and campaigns help your firm cultivate a strong and recognizable identity. From developing compelling content and engaging social media campaigns to optimizing their online presence and showcasing thought leadership, effective marketing helps firms rake in prospective clients and stand out amidst the competition. Equally as important for attracting new talent to your firm!

5. The gardening gloves = Client experience & satisfaction

Gardening gloves shield a gardener's hands, allowing them to work comfortably and protecting them from thorns, stings, rough surfaces or flying debris.

When firms prioritise client experience and satisfaction they ensure a smoother journey for their clients. Its hard to find a law firm that doesn't state that it delivers "excellent service" however many still don't see the gap between their perspective and that of their clients. Some see it as simply a way of mitigating risk (reducing the level of claims that might arise from complaints) rather than embracing it positively, listening, making changes and closing the feedback loop. By delivering exceptional service, actively seeking feedback, and continuously improving firms can demonstrate their commitment to client success, secure their loyalty and stand out from competitors.

6. The wheelbarrow - Project management & efficiency

A wheelbarrow assists by enabling a gardener to efficiently transport materials around the garden and can make tasks and bigger projects easier to manage. It can even double up as a potting bench or temporary flower bed.

Getting your project management right is one of the key ways to enable change in your firm - no matter whether you are aiming for more efficient service delivery, better processes or improving your client experience. By leveraging technology, focusing on client/user journeys, good project management can ensure the outcome you're looking for.

Project management resourcing: what are the options

So you are about to embark on a change project. You a clear vision and support/mandate from your partners. Timing, planning, supplier(s) and budget considerations are also high on the list. right: your FD won't thank you for committing to a significant expenditure without working out how you are going to pay for it, However one aspect that can sometimes be overlooked is in resourcing your project.

Your HR manager/director will assist but the main options you have are to:

a) try to deliver this with your existing team. Possibly the most dangerous route. Assuming they are at or near full utilisation, adding more work onto them means that something will give way (either the project timing will lengthen, other work will be de-prioritised or dropped, or mistakes will start to creep). Longer term you may risk burnout of valued individuals.

b) assign the project management responsibility to the supplier. A better solution than a) but it will still need involvement from your team. Depending on the nature of the supplier, there is a risk of their bias (to preferred tech or methodology)

c) employ an independent consultant with specialist knowledge/experience to provide you with an informed basis for your decision and to manage the project for you. A good consultant will have experience in delivering successful projects, works seamlessly with your internal team and should keep your objectives as their mission to deliver on.

d) engage a change consultancy. Typically larger multi disciplinary consulting businesses. These come with associated infrastructure and a team based approach to projects. Costs are likely to be higher than for an independent.

e) employ your own project manager: this may be a route to consider, particularly if multiple change projects are envisaged over several years. Bear in mind that finding and recruiting the right person may take longer than some of the other options above.

I use different wheelbarrows for different purposes: a heavy duty one for hard landscaping and a lightweight one for mowings. Take a tip from a gardener and make sure that your chosen route of project management resourcing is up to the job in hand and gives your project the best chance of success in unleashing growth.

See my other posts in this series:

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