Many Australian law firms are struggling to maximise their business development opportunities. Recent research shows 69 per cent of law firms with an ‘under developed’ marketing and business development function did not have a plan at all. (1)

Carl Olson, Product Management Director, ANZ, Thomson Reuters Legal, said, “By making just a few strategic changes, firms can dramatically improve their business development success.
“Some examples of initiatives law firms  are implementing to increase results include business development training, hiring business development specialists, implementing a firm-wide business development plan and strategy, and researching the companies/executives you’re trying to pursue.”

Thomson Reuters has identified eight key measures law firms should take to ensure the success of business development activities:

1.  Don’t waste time. Once firms are aware that a business opportunity isn’t going further, it’s important to avoid spending too much time trying to convert prospects unlikely to become clients. Equally, spending time with a potential client and then neglecting to follow up appropriately makes it unlikely firms will win the business.

2.  Identify targets. Connecting with clients makes it easier to understand challenges that firms can offer solutions to. Additionally, demonstrating a lack of knowledge about a prospect conveys a sense of unprofessionalism.

3.  Plan strategically. The most successful firms are those with a clearly-defined business development strategy that addresses the types of problems they can solve for the clients they are targeting. Getting the entire firm on the same page is essential; teams can then be better equipped to go into networking opportunities with the information they need to target key opportunities.

4.  Consider hiring experts. It can be worth hiring a business development expert to improve your sales results. A good business development expert can help identify saleable services from within your practice areas and even find ways to productise them for easier sales.

5.  Be proactive. Heading off problems before they affect the business is the hallmark of a great legal team. By encouraging lawyers to spend some time thinking about ways they can get proactive with existing or potential clients, firms will likely begin to see new opportunities where none previously existed.

6.  Network effectively. Networking remains effective, but only if lawyers are fully prepared to make the most of each opportunity.

7.  Ask for business. A simple phrase like “I can help you with that” or “Let’s work together” can turn a conversation into a sale. Firms can turn a prospect into a client just by asking for the work.

8.  Have a tailored proposition. To win the work firms will need to adjust to each client’s preferences. Law firms will need to uncover the value factors the client sees as appealing and deliver a highly tailored proposal. Research and conversation are the main drivers to delivering a successful pitch.

Carl Olson said, “It’s important Australian law firms take the right steps to ensure they are maximising their chances of securing new business. A full audit of your new business strategy should be completed to make sure the above tips are included.”


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