Edge International


A Business Development Reality Check

A Business Development Reality Check

Remember when things were busy and prosperous, and meeting a prospective client was a joy? There was a spring in your step and, while you were not cavalier, your future did not depend on any given individual so there really wasn’t a whole lot of pressure on each greeting or encounter.

Remember that more senior lawyer in your firm who used to feed you a ton of work until she retired, or was laterally hired away, or whose own practice dried up a bit so she stopped sending the work down?

The New Status Quo

Now, there has been a bit of a drought in your practice. A few deals that were coming to you collapsed. Some clients who professed to understand an imminent need postponed anyway.

The industry you focus on is going through difficult times.

Your clients have some new awareness of how to put the fee pressure on you. Even long-standing clients are doing RFPs just to keep you sharp.

You read about alternate fees and you’re not quite sure when to use them and when not. You read conflicting reports about the receptivity of clients to alternate fees: first you’re told clients love them and demand them, and then you are told that clients reject them and see them as a device for you to extract more from them.

Trust out there seems to be waning.

Your internal meetings tell you that many of your colleagues are in the same boat. While there’s comfort in numbers, the pervasiveness of the problem does not bode well for your next compensation review.

So, the anxiety grows. The greater the anxiety, the less you want to deal with this. You didn’t like schmoozing at the best of times… and you don’t like it any better in the worst of times.

What to do?

I wish I could tell you that there was a magic button that would solve all of your problems. All you would need to do is make a one-time investment of $99.95, and every time you pressed the button, new and profitable clients would walk through your door. The magic button would be available in your choice of colors and designs. You could set it to “Silent,” or select the bell tone of your choice. When you pressed it, in would walk your ideal client and all you would have to do is simply listen for a few minutes to learn exactly what they wanted you to do for them in exchange for the substantial amount of money they were offering.

Well, guess what? The equivalent of that button is available to you right now – and there is no cost involved! Instead of money, this magic button requires you to invest some time and thought. Furthermore, the button does not conjure a paying client every time you press it… instead, you have to press it multiple times for every client you get, and for those you already have. But the end result will be the same: you will build your practice instead of watching it decline.

Pressing the button is a metaphor, of course. The “push the button” activities available to you right now include such strategies as the following:

I can add to this list but you get the idea. You have the button, and you didn’t have to pay for it. You just need to keep using it.

Soon it will be the “Happy Holidays” time of year, and there will be a lot of socializing. By all means participate. However, keep in mind that it’s how often you push the button during the other eleven months of the year that will correlate to your business development success.

Gerry Riskin

Edge Founder & Principal specializes in counseling law firm leaders on issues relating to the evolution of the structure and management of their law firms and the architecture of competitive strategies.  He has served hundreds of law firm clients around the globe from small boutiques to mega firms including working with the largest law firms in the world.  Gerry is still a Canadian but has resided on the Caribbean Island of Anguilla, British West Indies for more than 25 years.

Email Gerry at [email protected] or text or call him at +1 (202) 957-6717