How to construct a compelling business case for partnership

Thinking of writing your business case? Perhaps you’ve been asked to present your business case for partner in a few weeks time but you have no idea where to start?  I have worked with many clients to help them to write a compelling and persuasive business case for partner, in law, accountancy and consulting firms. Here are my 6 tips on how to construct a persuasive business case for partner.

Why you?

When you are up against many other equally successful professionals for partnership, you need to think about the reasons for picking you. This is not an easy question and should involve much soul searching and conversations with existing partners to gauge their views. Even if your business and personal case seems like a ‘slam dunk’, e.g. I am replacing the partner in this department who is retiring, don’t neglect this step. After all, nothing is certain in the professions, and there are always alternatives. For example, my client’s ‘why you?’ was the fact he regularly won multi-million-pound contracts for his firm. Unlike other potential partners, he had a great business development track record, and wasn’t just ‘untapped potential’. However, I pushed my client to think further than this, and challenged him on why did his partnership really need to promote him to partner as he was already winning large contracts for them…

What is the risk of not promoting you to partner?

The easiest pitch for partnership is one where it is blindingly obvious that you are a shoo-in for partner. However, complacency has scuppered many a potential partner’s place around the partnership table! So, take your time to truly think about the impact on the entire partnership, not you personally, of not promoting you to partner. If there is little or no negative impact in not promoting you, then you have a problem…

What is your 3-sentence, 50-word pitch?

Imagine you have to start off with your pitch for partnership. If you only had 50 words or 3 sentences, what would be included in your pitch? Your thinking for the ‘why me’ and the ‘risk of not promoting me to partner’ should provide the foundation for your 3 sentence pitch. Another way to think of your 3-sentence pitch is the headlines to the story you want to tell, via your business case, of why you need to be promoted to partner. In this 50 word pitch, it can be incredibly tempting to use big words and internal firm jargon. I urge you to strip this out. The best way to make a big impact, and have easy understanding, is to use short and easy to understand words. If an 11 year old can’t understand your 3-sentence pitch, then you need to reword it.

Build your story in your pitch

With one client, we wanted to get three key points over in her pitch. (Due to confidentiality, I can’t share these three points openly). These three key points came directly from her 3-sentence pitch. The rest of the guts of her pitch were to reinforce these three key points. Even though she was forced to use a standard firm template for her pitch, we were able to make sure that each bit of her narrative for her story and key numbers backed up the claims in her pitch.

Back up your claims with credibility statements, not waffly words.

It is very easy to slip into regurgitating company jargon and competency frameworks when building your business case. After all, you have boxes to fill! I’m going to be controversial here, but no-one cares that you are a great team player and leader. What your partners care about is that you can EVIDENCE these claims. So, where is your persuasive and compelling data to demonstrate that you are a great team player and leader? If you are going to build a £1+million client portfolio, what is your evidence to back this up? Ideally, the claims you make in your business case need to supply the detail for the story that you want to flow through your business case.

Getting an external perspective

When you are in the thick of client work, progressing your pipeline, it can be very difficult to get the time to stand back and reflect on your pitch for partnership. This is why, as my clients found out, that getting an external perspective and input on your business case, personal case and pitch for partner is very valuable. Of course, we will never know whether my help or not tipped the balance for my clients getting promoted to partnership, but my guess is, it made it much easier for thepartners to say yes.  

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