Business development predictions in a post-COVID world

Business development predictions in a post-COVID world

 

With the encouraging news that a vaccine for COVID-19 is probably just around the corner, my thoughts have turned to the world of legal business development (BD) and how this might have changed by next Spring and beyond. My predictions:

 

  • Most of us will continue WFH at least a couple of days a week. Management will want to utilise the firm’s expensive real estate, but push back from employees who want more time with their families and less time commuting will win over.


  • Travel associated with BD will be much reduced. Whether you are an lawyer getting on a plane to visit a client, prospect or just going to a networking event or conference, or a BD professional travelling around to the firm’s global offices, the pandemic has shown us that meetings don’t have to be face-to-face for things to get done.

     

  • The pandemic has shown us that those firms closest to their clients have won plaudits and more business. I predict a greater investment by firms in client listening and thought leadership initiatives to better understand and meet clients’ needs and to stay ahead of the competition. A lot of firms still don’t get this and are in danger of falling by the wayside.

     

  • Linked to the above, KAM (key account management) will gain greater acceptance among law firms. Effective CRM systems to track and manage relationships could finally get some traction, although there have been lots of false dawns in the past. CRM automation is helping with this.

     

  • Analytics and AI will streamline and automate the BD process, pulling data from the finance systems, CRM, social, and news feeds to give lawyers insights into the most effective BD approaches, the issues most important to clients, and the right time to strike with prospects in order to increase the chances of a sale.

     

  • With greater insights around client need, collaboration across practice areas will be a must to provide integrated solutions to clients’ problems. The ‘silo’ mentality has been replaced in many law firms but this often just leads to cross-selling. What is needed to go to the next level is genuine collaboration, and increasingly this will be with in-house legal teams and competitors working on the same client.

     

  • With more remote/agile working, management will need more sophisticated metrics to track and monitor BD performance. Billable hours worked and recovered for a client are not enough. How much effort was expended in order to land the client? How was the pricing calculated and was the desired level of profit achieved at the end? Was the client satisfied with the work? What did the client think of the performance of the team members? What is the client’s propensity to use the firm for a similar transaction in future? Will they recommend us to others? Etc. Most law firms are light years from having such metrics in place, so much work is needed.

     

  • And finally, BD skills training and coaching will increase to enable firms to meet the increasingly competitive market head on. During the pandemic, this has moved successfully from the classroom/face-to-face to online. I predict this change is here to stay.

© Wheeler Associates, 2020

 

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About the author:

Kevin Wheeler has been advising professional services firms on all aspects of marketing and business development for more than 30 years. As a consultant he helps firms to manage and grow their key clients as well as to win new ones. As a Meyler Campbell qualified coach he works with partners and those approaching partnership to improve their BD skills.