Effective BD in a virtual world
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
When talking about Sales/BD to lawyers we often get the rolling of eyes or told that they are not salespeople. The reality is, that in today’s market a lawyer needs to be able to ‘do’ business development. In this series of blogs I am going to cover the main 3 areas (in my opinion).
Blog 1 – Networking & Events
Blog 2 – Social media for Business Development
Blog 3 – Direct marketing
So, face to face/in person networking is no more (for the time being, and to be honest, for the foreseeable future) So, how do you and your team get networking and generate new leads?
My key takeaway in the blog is going to be ‘stand out/be bold’. The time for trying to do things how we have always done them is over. There is no new normal, as each day and week throws us a new challenge.
Virtual networking…it is here to stay….so get on board or miss out. In my opinion the virtual format can really work for lawyers who are often introverts. However, just like in person networking you need to give thought to what event will work for you, so the key principles apply;
What time of day is it? Am I at my best at that time? We are all either, morning or evening people. If you struggle to get out of bed before 7am don’t sign up for a first thing event. Equally if you are happiest in your PJs by 7pm, don’t sign up for an evening event.
Can I spare the time? I know you are busy, it’s pretty much all I hear from my legal clients, but Business Development is achieved by a sustained and considered effort when you are busy not just when you are quiet! You do not just need time for the event itself (this seems to be a max of 90 minutes now we are virtual) but time in advance to prep (yes you still need to go through the guest list and connect on LinkedIn). Time to be focused at the event and not thinking about that property transaction you need to exchange on. And finally, probably, most importantly, is the follow up. Make sure you schedule time to have follow up 121 virtual (or in person if allowed) coffees.
What’s my budget? The beauty of virtual events is that it has brought the price point right down, so affordability should really not be an issue any longer.
Who do I want to meet? Linked to the above point, due to the reduced cost of online networking I have had complaints from people that there are too many small businesses out there. Don’t dismiss the small business/one-man band, you never know who they know, and they will all need wills, property advice and possibly more! However, if you have a client avatar then you can ask the organiser if the event attracts that type of person/business.
Most law firms have grasped the value of running seminars and events for their clients over the last decade.
The transition of seminars to webinars has been pretty straight forward. If you haven’t yet done so yourself, then why not? Again, a positive of this is reduced cost, no refreshment or venue hire. However, this is where my ‘be bold/different’ point comes in. How can you differentiate? I know of several firms that used to run in person HR forum/breakfast type events, now most of them have transitioned online but is there any real USP to another law firm’s forum? Think about how you can improve the prospect/client experience. We recently ran a conference where we sent breakfast boxes out to the delegates…could you do something like this?
We are coming up to Christmas which would historically be a time for drinks evenings for referrers and key clients. What are you going to do? My impression is that most firms are just doing nothing ... what message does this give to your referrers and key clients who may have gotten used to the annual bash? Again, let’s be bold and think outside of the box – virtual wine tasting, cocktail making, or even quizzes are really popular. Think people are zoomed out?
Well there are other platforms available (my personal favourite is Remo).
Or, if you don’t want to run an event, how can you interact/engage? Personalised gifts could be a way forward. Whilst in person meetings are still allowed you could see people on a 121 basis where appropriate but do be mindful that not everyone is comfortable with the idea of non-essential in person contact…
So, what now. You need a plan – it comes back to that well-worn saying, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’. It doesn’t need to be war and peace but do have some objectives and then an action plan incorporating events and networking.
Lara Squires runs Consortium Business Solutions which is a boutique marketing and business development agency providing tailored solutions to professional services clients.