Structured business development planning to help grow your firm
There are lots of nice easy to remember quotes about planning and having a plan. Thinking clearly about how you grow your firm with a well-organised business development plan is key:
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
“Poor planning produces poor performance” – Unknown
“Plans are nothing, planning is everything” – Dwight D Eisenhower
I want to pick up on the last quote as one of the most important. The process of planning often involves discussions between groups and individuals. Planning will involve considering alternatives and creative planning will allow you to explore new ideas and new ways of working. Putting the final plan to one side for the minute, the very process of creating a plan empowers you and your team to be more effective. Think about this in the business development frame. The very act of focusing on your existing and new clients, and exploring what you can do to win, develop, and retain clients will enthuse and focus your activity individually as a team.
Enough for the PR for plans. How can a structured business development plan help you grow your firm? What should you consider as part of your plans?
What are you trying to achieve and what will you measure?
Taking the time to think about goals and output from your plan is critical. How will you know what success looks like if you haven’t taken the time to discuss, agree and write it down? Goals and measures will help you track your activity and will help you understand if you are on track or not. It might be worth thinking about some really big and aspirational goals here as this can help you achieve much more than you thought possible.
Think about timescales and how regularly you check-in.
Having a 22-year plan might sound brilliant to you. Checking it in year 20 might be a nice thing to do. In a volatile, changing and developing world we live in we need to make sure we look at long-term timescales and short-term priorities. We always recommend having a 5-year strategy and plan, coupled with a more detailed one year operational plan. This one-year plan is then broken down to bitesize quarterly key actions. It’s not reviewed every quarter, it’s reviewed every week or every few weeks. Adopting these timescales and approaches helps to keep you on track and make sure that nothing is getting missed by you and your team.
What areas should your business development plan focus on?
We ask you to break down your activity in these areas:
Suspects – brand new potential clients that you don’t have a relationship with at all yet.
Prospects – potential clients you are in a two-way dialogue with, they haven’t said yes, and equally, they haven’t said no to you.
Clients – those who you already have as fee paying clients
Advocates – those who are clients and love what you do and act as real brand ambassadors for you.
These are key in creating a structured business development plan to help grow your firm.
We recommend building a structured business development plan that addresses this list in the reverse order. Starting with your advocates and working towards your suspects. Why do we do it that way around? Because putting a little effort and planning into making the most of your existing advocates and fee paying clients is much easier than trying to find and win brand new ones. You do need to address brand new clients and how you approach them. Starting with the easiest and working your way towards the prospects and suspects can help you really focus your activity.
Benefits for you and your firm
Building your own business development plan that covers these key areas helps you avoid all of the issues we flagged in the three quotes at the beginning of this article. Taking time to discuss refine and develop your own plans, your teams plans and your firms plans gives you the insight and focus to help you and your firm grow. Measuring these plans in an effective way at good regular intervals helps you to make small corrections and changes to keep you on track to your overall strategy and long term goal.
If you find yourself planning to start more of the time rather than starting to plan, get in contact and find out how we can help you create your perfect business development plan.