In a recent Business Development workshop we posed the question to our clients – who is your ideal client? The immediate response came back, ‘anything with – or without – a pulse!’
Traditional Legal Business Development
For many solicitors, this has been the case for many years. Any client with work to offer, and with the capacity to pay (or, indeed, for many firms even those who have a demonstrably poor payment history) would constitute an ideal client.
However, the days of casting the marketing net so wide are gone. Reaching clients takes investment, and firms must focus that investment on their best prospects to achieve a sufficient return on what is effectively the partners’ capital.
Therefore, an important starting point is for all departments and teams to identify their ideal client. This will ideally be done at a team meeting or workshop, to get discussion going and get everyone on the same page.
Identification means more than ‘businesses in our area’ or ‘private clients’. In a B2B market it is important to know what market the client is in; the size of the company and turnover; location(s); and even corporate structure (who is the buyer, and with whom should contacts be nurtured?). Private clients can be profiled by age; wealth/income; occupation (at least in broad terms); location; and likely requirements.
Cross-Selling Legal Services
Different teams and departments will naturally have different ideal clients. However, in identifying the ideal client we not only get everyone pulling together in the same direction, but also maximise opportunities for cross-selling and referral within the firm. This is something that all fee earners (and non-fee earners, where appropriate) should be explicitly aware of and consciously seeking to pursue. The ideal client (especially in private client work, but also often in B2B too) will have a range of needs that different people within the firm can help with.
There are clearly no right or wrong answers – and different people within teams will also have different ideal clients. As long as this is recognised and is part of the Business Development strategy, this can serve to strengthen the portfolio. What is important is for the firm to be deploying its resources effectively – and client profiling forms a key part of this.
We will return to the question of how profiling fits into the Business Development plan in a future post.