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Transforming the Business Development Process


Most fee-earners fail at Business Development because the typical sales process involves a combination of constant networking, fishing for introductions, and some direct marketing. This can be an exhausting and demoralising road to travel, and ultimately leaves an insecure pipeline of often small, one-off invoices – not to mention the high cost of sale and the time this takes away from other fee-earning work.

Repositioning Professional Services

However, you can avoid Business Development failure by changing tactics. The crucial tactic in transforming business development is to position yourself so that clients seek you out, rather than the other way around. This does not happen overnight, but the rewards will be worthwhile. The most important criterion in this strategy is that fellow professionals must be able to identify who your ideal clients are. We outlined five key strategies to this end in Sustainable Business Development Post-Recession.

Soliciting Referrals

Getting referrals from satisfied clients should form a key part of any professional’s business development pipeline. However, many find it difficult to hold the conversation – whether through lack of confidence or simply not finding ‘the right moment’. The timing of the conversation is important, as the perceived value of a service diminishes after the service has been delivered. Therefore, during delivery or immediately after successful completion (over lunch) are favourable times to ask for referrals.

Strategic Allies

Just as professionals can expect to achieve more by operating in a niche market, so the benefits of allying with strategic partners in niche markets can be considerable. There is, of course, the danger of relationships becoming unequal or falling by the wayside. However, when nurtured properly, strategic alliances can bring financial rewards to both sides, as well as the ‘kudos’ of introducing a trusted service provider to a key client and, of course, excellent service for the client.

Approaching Business Development in this way will bring a far lower cost of sale and will help to feed a sustainable pipeline of new instructions. Moreover, this approach will free up more time – for chargeable work; for business management; and, ultimately, for life.

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