Beat the Recession With an Organized Business Development Program




Get More Clients.
Make More Money.

Does business development at your firm look like a Warner Brothers’ cartoon with lawyers dressing up as hunters, going out into the business forest and shooting at anything that moves? If your business development seems more about “wascally wabbits” than verified business leads, you aren’t alone.

However, if you practice premeditated business development, this year can be the very best in your career no matter what the economy is doing. 

Even in difficult economic times, there are opportunities galore. A recent survey showed that 60 percent of corporate clients were unhappy with their primary law firms. That's a chance for you to put their businesses into play.


There are also threats out there. Your firm's top 50 clients are on the target list for every other law firm, so make sure you have a very close relationship with your clients and that they are satisfied with your work.


Your individual sales plan


If you really want to boost the revenue you bring in to your firm by $75,000 to $100,000, you must have a written plan to devote 100 to 200 hours per year to business development. One hundred hours a year is only two hours a week, and any lawyer can find the time to meet referral sources for coffee, take clients for lunch, or attend a trade association meeting after work.


Your aim is to develop or deepen relationships with clients because new business comes in person. Your plan should be filled with face-to-face meetings with clients and targets. The firm's Web site, brochure, articles, newsletters, public relations, direct mail marketing, announcements and press releases will generate leads for your sales effort, but you have to go out and make the sale.


Elements of your plan


Page One


Page one of your individual sales plan should be a list of your top ten clients. Set a date when you will visit clients at their premises and make plans to get to know as many people there as possible. This is the low hanging fruit: clients already trust you, send you work and mail you checks.


Before you schedule that first on-site visit, carefully consider the following points.


Page Two

Page two of your plan should be a list of your top ten referral sources. You need to meet with them in person, too. You want to be clear on two things:  that they know what kind of work you are looking for and that you understand what sort of referrals they want in return.


Page Three

These two pages are generally enough to fill up a year's worth of sales effort. But you should also write a page three, which is a list of targets, executives and general counsel whom you already know but who are not clients of the firm yet. Your goal is to meet them, strike up a business conversation and discover how your firm can serve them.


Of course, business development should not be a solo effort.  Your  firm will generate much more revenue if 10 to 20 lawyers each write business development plans and "go hunting" as an organized effort.


Key element of an organized approach include:

  • Carefully selecting lawyers who have already shown some business development acumen.  These lawyers are the future of the firm. It's not necessary to include rainmakers in the group because they're already doing what they're supposed to.  And there's no point in including "library lawyers' with no interest in having their own clientele, because they'll just be a drag on the program.
  • Training lawyers on how to sell legal services.  For lawyers, practice development is very different from being a "salesman" who is pitching products. For lawyers, new business come in-person, and lawyers need training on developing relationships.  Lawyers also need to focus on the industries and practices that generate the most income for the firm -- and put less effort into the rest.
  • One-on-one coaching.  As you begin to become active, you'll run into obstacles such as "what do I say..." or "what do I do..." in various situations.  You'll need guidance from an experienced coach in business development to get them over these obstacles.
  • Continuing education.  To keep the group momentum going, lawyers should gather monthly for one-hour programs -- live or on the Web -- that answer the common questions they have and to go into detail about the points raised in the initial training.
  • Internal roundtables.  If the firm has a marketing director, this professional should organize monthly meetings of program participants, to share their challenges and develop solutions as a group.  The roundtables are also excellent moments to share successes and describe how they were achieved. 

This is exactly how we've designed the Apollo Business Development Program. If you actually take the time, write your business development plan and carry it out, this year can be the best financial year financially in your career. You just have to get out there and do it. Please feel free to Inquire today about the Apollo Business Development Program at

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