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Business development is essential if you are going to grow your own practice to make partner. But many accountants, lawyers and consultants find that business development time waster activities loom large on their to do list. (And that’s if you have the time to do business development in the first place! Are you allowing business development time wasters to creep into your diary? If so, this article is about how you can reduce them.

Does your business development go nowhere?

With an overflowing ‘to-do’ list and client demands stacking up, the last thing you want is to accommodate more business development time wasters, where another morning is seen to be disappearing from your diary that you can’t afford. So why are you attending yet another business development meeting or participating in activities that won’t actually develop the business? And why do senior partners always want to pull you into a business development meeting when the last thing you have time for is another business development meeting that you wouldn’t get any sales credit for? If you feel like you are doing a lot of business development and it is going nowhere, it may be because you are not actually focused on it. Without a goal, how are you supposed to know if you have achieved the results that you want? To stop wasting time (and to make sure that your efforts actually develop the business), here are 3 changes that you can make.

1. Filter your potential leads

Sales can waste a lot of time, especially when it comes to taking on new clients, so make sure that you have a focus in mind. (Need to win your own clients? Here’s how) A clear definition of your target client and then a sales process where you only commit to doing more for the prospect as they make more commitment to you will save you a lot of time. Time which can be better spent on clients who will develop the business. If you view the process of getting to know a potential client as a series of exchanges of commitment, where you define the commitments (a commitment could be a phone call before committing to meet), you will save time and increase your conversion rate.

2. Focus on hitting your targets rather than exceeding them

If your focus is hitting your billing targets, then hit them, don’t waste your time trying to bust your billing target. Recording too many chargeable hours OR chasing low fee, low recovery type clients just reduces the time you have available to market effectively to your “sweet spot.” Stopping business development time wasters means knowing how much business you really want and only you can answer that.

3. Listen to your gut feeling

All the processes in the world can only ever inform you and educate you on making a decision. Sometimes, they can even help you challenge your inner-self which can be beneficial but it is important that you listen to your gut feeling.   When it comes to taking on potential clients, be aware of that gut feeling. Yes, this business may help you hit your target but if it doesn’t feel right, it can often be much more beneficial if you politely decline the potential work (Learn how to say no gracefully). Taking on work that you don’t want or clients that don’t align with your practice can result in a lot of time wasted. Think about it, the result will be you or your team members annoyed at spending time on a prospect that they don’t like. And you’re much less likely to do a good job at selling yourself or allowing them to sell themselves to you anyway.

No focused plan is planning to fail

If you don’t have a tightly focused marketing plan, the reality is that it is easy to just go after every potential client which has a pulse and may want to work with you. However, this results in very ineffective business development activities and a lot of wasted time. The more you know WHO you want as a client and HOW you are going to get in front of them, the easier it becomes to WIN them as a client (struggling to win bigger and better clients?). So no more with the business development time waster activities that go nowhere, get focused and grow the practice towards success.

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