Business Development Clinic: 7 deadly business development mistakes – which ones are you making? (part 2)

The days when you could get to partnership as a brilliant technician are long gone..

Even if you only work on very big ticket items, to get to be a Magic Circle, Big Law, big 4 partner or partner at a large firm you still need to have proved your ability to win work and be seen as someone who can build a client portfolio worth over £1m (if you are in the UK Big 4 firms, this is £2-3m). In fact, if you are in a mid-tier or smaller firm, your ability to win work probably has to be more evident to get to partner than if you are in a magic circle, big law or big 4 firm.

In our work with potential partners and successful junior partners we find that these 7 deadly business development mistakes occur time and time again. If you are making any of these 7 mistakes you will be slowing your progression to partnership.  In the second part of this blog we look at the last 4 deadly business development mistakes. (First part can be found here)

4. ‘we-ing’ all over a proposal or tender

Having read several unsuccessful proposals and tender documents recently, a common theme is how unclient-centric the proposal is. Very often, a proposal or tender tends to overly focus on ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘us’, rather than the specific client needs you will be solving for them. If you are going to win the client in a tender, then make sure your proposals and pitches are written and delivered in a client-centric way is essential. For example:

  • How near to the front of the pitch or proposal are you telling your prospective client ‘about us’?
  • Is your proposal/pitch talking about features rather than real benefits for the prospective client?

5. Chasing the wrong type of leads

When you are finding it hard to generate any kind of leads, then any lead generated is a relief and feels like a success. However, generating and progressing the wrong type of leads can be incredibly dangerous to your business development activities and results. For example, not converting the right type of clients often wastes your time, wastes others times, and gets you on the wrong side of your marketing and business development team. Winning the wrong type of clients lessens your profitability and team’s recoverability/chargeability. It also ties you up, preventing you from going out and spending time focusing on winning the right type of client.

Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

6. Ineffective key client account management

Time after time after time, we see this business development mistake happening. Whether or not the often-quoted statistic is actually true, it is 7-14 times easier to win business from an existing client. From our own experience, we are not disputing this fact! However, if you don’t spend time with your clients outside of the engagement or assignment, is it any wonder that you are failing to win more work from your existing clients?

The key to eliminating this mistake is using relationship plans for your key clients and contacts. Download now a tried and tested relationship plan template to ensure your client portfolio grows through the time you spend with your current clients.

7. Trying to be all things to all people

When you were a junior, your aim was to be as technically able as possible. This meant you were more likely to be picked for jobs and be in demand on the planning board. Unfortunately, the same logic does not work at manager, senior associate, director or partner level. If you try and be all things to all people, you will become too much of a generalist. Consequently, it will be hard to justify your charge-out rate to clients because of a lack of a specialism. (Be it sector or technical specialism)

Clients want to work with an advisor who truly understands their world, business, marketplace and challenges. Whilst 80% of all client challenges are non-sector specific, it’s this knowledge of the 20% which will get you continually hired by clients and referred by others. Can you afford not to be a specialist?

Author Credit:

HowtoMakePartner book jacketWritten by Heather Townsend. I help professionals become the ‘Go To Expert’. I am the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and “The Go-To-Expert” (publish date March 2014) and the author of the award-winning and bestselling book on Networking, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking‘.

To find out whether I can help you, have a look at “our services”

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter

Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

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