The ability to generate business is not so much an afterthought for professional service specialists, but rather something that becomes increasingly important as they progress through their careers. For some this comes naturally, easily slotting in with their personality and lifestyle. For others, it is more of a challenge and the idea of ‘managing a pipeline’ or ‘closing the deal’ feels artificial and forced.

Marketers are regularly told by practitioners that “we’re really busy” and “we all have our ‘day jobs’ to do”. We fully appreciate the difficulties of fitting business development activities into an already packed work schedule, or worse still, be forced to allow BD to impact on the time you spend with family and friends. However, it is important if you want to build a sustainable practice and do more of the work you enjoy.

Based on our years of experience we are sharing four key steps to save you time, and ensure what you do is effective.

Step 1 – Have a plan

In our experience, the length of the plan is determined by the needs of the individual. This may be as simple or a complex as you like, depending on your needs and personal style – but focus on a few key things rather than trying to do too much. Set 3-5 goals and identify the steps you need to take to achieve these.

Step 2 – Focus on your strengths and what you enjoy

Our approach to advising partners and fee earners when selecting BD activities is to avoid those which feel like a chore. We’re not saying you can avoid everything, but there are many ways to win new work and build relationships. Our advice is to choose what you enjoy doing, so long as it helps to achieve your objectives.

For example, if you don’t like writing articles or delivering presentations, steer clear. If networking is less appealing than a trip to the dentist then skip it. Choose activities that you enjoy, play to your strengths and then the BD won’t take up too much of your precious time (e.g. record a video or Podcast if verbal communication is a strength).

Step 3 – Avoid the easy stuff

If you need to do marketing and BD activity, do it properly. Be strategic. Be focused. Turn your email off and make a couple of calls. Don’t just collect LinkedIn contacts but make contact and win some work. Click here to find out what is easy, and what requires more grit.

Step 4 – Integrate yourself with wider firm activities

If you are in a firm with a marketing function, there will be various marketing and BD activities occurring as a matter of course: the website, the corporate brochure, PR, social media, campaigns, CSR activities, events, awards and (hopefully) targeted campaigns. Find out what is going on and then integrate yourself into these activities.

It’s sad but true

Business development has traditionally been overshadowed by more sophisticated marketing communication tactics. Yet as firms and individuals become increasingly more sophisticated in the way they make win new business, it’s never been more important to be truly focused about understanding exactly what it is they want to achieve. Business development is about unlocking growth now. How firms might interpret or act on that definition will vary, but having a clear understanding of what business development means for both individuals and the firm allows business leaders to develop a shared vision of how it can be used to capture value.

This is an abridged version of an article published in August 2015. Read the full article here.


Tom Horigan

Founder and Managing Director

T. +44(0)203 637 3958

M. +44(0)7816 292 451