Insights and Resources

What’s wrong with professional services Business Development (BD)?

What’s wrong with professional services Business Development (BD)?

By Jonathan Roberts

The name for a start.

It’s a catch-all phrase that includes topics like differentiation, business models, pricing strategies, positioning, account management, LinkedIn, sales pipelines, tender writing and events.

Let’s get really clear, the goal most professional services firms are trying to achieve is how to produce sustainable and profitable revenue generation. So, I’ll assume you’re reading this article probably because you’ve identified an issue with your firm’s “BD” activities.

If we drill down into what’s driving this need and assuming it’s not a problem with the business model, it’s likely to be a marketing issue or a sales issue or both! (I’ll leave pricing for others to write about)

Furthermore, here are some of the issues that might be affecting your firm’s “BD” performance:

  • Confusion as to what BD is and who’s responsible for it
  • Correspondingly, lack of appropriate sales training for partners
  • Little or no mention of KPIs around BD activities, i.e. number of new leads, clients, or heaven forbid revenue each month
  • Most smaller firms aren’t doing any, they’re too busy
  • Your firm tends to focus on maintaining client relationships (which is essential) and not new business opportunities
  • You want more/better clients, but the firm invests in things like websites and branding that don’t deliver either.

In summary, BD is such a broad and ambiguous concept, that doing BD can remain sufficiently vague not to actually make any difference…

Marketing should be the ongoing process of introducing high-quality new business leads to the firm. Those leads can come via referral networks, online lead generation programs, keynote speaking at appropriate conferences and other activities where you have the opportunity to ‘educate your audience’ around your deep expertise are other great avenues.

Sales, on the other hand, is converting those leads into clients. Sales strategies might include a personalised email to a contact that has reached an appropriate level of engagement with your content. It might require a phone call to ask for a meeting to discuss insights that are timely or unique. It might include sending a prospect a reference from an existing client.

If you have a marketing or sales specific problem, it’s better to call it that. Stop calling it BD, and instead engage experts that help the specific problem and outcomes you need to see.

With this in mind, we are introducing a new program to help firms develop the effectiveness of their sales teams. This allows us to now provide advice right across the full marketing and sales lifecycle.

If it’s a BD problem that you think you have, not only can we help you pinpoint the real underlying problem, but also equip you with access to the most appropriate expertise to get the outcome you want.

Does your firm suffer from these issues ‘selling’ expertise?

  • Partners don’t like to sell, and some don’t think they need to
  • It’s something that ‘marketing’ should be responsible for yet there is no KPIs
  • Most partners have grown their practice through referrals, hence have never needed to focus on sales
  • Your practice management software doesn’t adequately support a Sales Process
  • The pot of referrals is not what it used to be
  • You are unsure of how to develop and manage a sales process

You realise there is a growing need to review how your firm manages sales because:

  • You lack a coordinated strategy to develop prospective clients
  • You want to grow the firm (ideally using internal resources).
  • There is no central reporting of sales activities and success rates
  • New younger partners need support and training to help build their practice
  • You have an extensive database of contacts and prospects and have done nothing with them
  • There are little or no cross practice sales activities leaving untapped revenue in your database

We provide a tailored Sales training process that will:

  • Ensure your firm maximises its revenue opportunities
  • Provide the confidence and motivation for Partners and others to sell their expertise
  • Create commitment and accountability through the sales process
  • Design the KPIs and reports that measure activity and results
  • Provide a robust method that is easy to implement and follow
  • Allow for ongoing coaching and mentoring to ensure long term results
  • Identify the most effective revenue opportunities
  • Select the most appropriate software solution

If you’re looking to “BD” for a quick fix or sales spike, you’ll be disappointed. Marketing and Sales are a slow burn process, gently guiding and educating your audience about how your deep expertise can solve their problems more effectively than anyone else.

Where to Start?

Sometimes a 20-minute discussion might answer your immediate questions or needs, so feel free to call me. Other times we may need to meet with the senior partners to discuss the broader Marketing and Sales goals and issues with the current process.

Feel free to call, email me directly or fill this form out and let’s have a chat to see if/how One Rabbit can assist.

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