Will this year’s client development plan see the light of day?

Ben PaulIf you’re starting as a new Partner or Director in a professional services firm, you’ll need a clear BD plan. Ben Paul, CEO of The BD Ladder shares a perfect tool to plan your activities to grow and develop your practice and revenue.


So, you’ve completed your plan. Will you lock it away safely, never to touch it again? Maybe, at the start of next year it will see the light of day again. You’ll review it, change the date, and resubmit it to your firm’s management team – just to file it away once again. Well done, you’ve ticked that admin task off the list…

If the above scenario seems familiar, you might as well give up. Don’t waste your time and energy on a plan you’ll never use.

In reality, you’ll only deliver actions and follow a plan that you’re truly committed to. That means, it’s up to you to put the time in. Think it through and devise a strategy that isn’t based on what you think others expect of you, but instead is one you’ll actually execute.

If you are going to plan, here’s a few key elements for you to consider.

Take ownership of your plan

It might be tempting to rely on support staff to complete your plan. After all, you do pay their salaries… To put it simply, asking the management team, BD team, or even the practice manager to do it means you’ll take zero interest in your plan, and have an equally zero chance of following it.

Instead, actively consult with these professionals and ask for their ideas or input. Seeking feedback is helpful to challenge your thoughts and refine your plans. However, anything you commit to paper needs to be your own work, in your own words (regardless of who actually types it).

Less is more

It’s great to be ambitious, but for busy and time poor people – keep it simple. Ask yourself, how much time do you actually have available for BD and marketing? Before you take a look at your clients, prospects, or any marketing activities you intend to do this year, be realistic about the time you will regularly commit to business development.

To ensure you deliver against your client development plans, you’ll need to commit some time. However, you also have existing client demands to meet, teams to run, and a host of other responsibilities depending on the type of practice or firm you are in.

Selling legal advice is a time-absorbing business. Therefore, start your plan with a firm commitment of how much time you can allocate to BD. Then, book it into your calendar, make yourself accountable, and stick to it.

Ask someone you respect to hold you to account

By sharing your plan with someone else, it will help you view it as a useful document that guides your BD action throughout the year. The person you choose to share it with must have your permission to keep you accountable to the commitments you’ve made in your plan.

For this person to be effective in holding you to your plans, you’ll have to trust and respect them, and they’ll need to be someone you will actually listen do when they deliver frank and honest advice. Therefore, it’s really important you choose this person carefully (rather than having them thrust upon you).

Adopt the right mindset

A successful plan depends on your attitude. The advice in this article focuses highly on adopting the right mindset to ensure your plans are delivered, and not simply filed away. Your mindset is the most important part of any plan, and once you get that right – you’ll naturally get better at the execution. There’s a great deal of plans out there, and if you’re looking for some ideas, you can download my BD Client Action Plan for free. Best of luck with your BD!

Ben Paul is the CEO The BD Ladder, a consultancy specialising in helping Legal firms grow their revenue and building effective BD and marketing strategies. He has held senior BD and marketing roles in leading law firms and has over two decades’ experience in business development and marketing. Connect with Ben via LinkedIn