A BD coaching programme is essential in creating a client-centric BD culture. But is all too often overlooked, writes Ben Paul of The BD Ladder.
Many firms typically refer to their existing partner or service area/team plans as a starting point, which seems logical. However, these plans are often created annually, are rarely updated, frequently shelved and never referred to until the next submission date. A more effective approach involves starting with a clean slate and committing to creating a comprehensive plan that aligns with the BD coaching program. This entails analysing clients, markets, and planned BD activities aimed at revenue growth and acquiring new work. It helps to have a clear template to follow, but if you don’t have one, you can download this BD Client Action Plan and use to get started.
Looking at developing an effective coaching strategy, here are five steps to help you craft a BD Client Action Plan that you will genuinely commit to and execute.
Set achievable goals in your BD plan
Focus on creating three to four realistically achievable goals for the upcoming year. These objectives should be specific and measurable, such as securing a speaking slot at a targeted virtual conference or winning a matter from a prospective client.
Identify top clients and prospects
Determine your top three clients and three prospective clients. It’s crucial to not only identify these clients, but also the key individuals within their organizations you need to engage with to secure the desired work. My advice is to always target getting meetings with someone as high up in the organisational chain as possible.
Commit to realistic deliverables
If you are completing your BD plan because your Managing Partner or CEO told you to, or because your colleague did one, then there’s zero point in doing it. You must be committed and motivated to follow your own plans.
Only include actions in your BD plan that you genuinely intend to follow through. Align your BD activities with your time commitments and ensure they are feasible within your existing workload.
In short, write the plan to the time you have available, do not write a perfect BD plan and then try to fit the time around it.
Map out detailed BD activities
This is where those highly detailed people can get very granular. Provide a comprehensive breakdown of your BD activities, including the number of meetings or video calls you plan to conduct throughout the year. Specify the mix of existing and prospective clients, and outline your goals for webinars, events, or content creation.
But remember what we said before. Make the list of activities realistic and achievable.
Find someone you trust to hold you to your BD commitments
It is important that you respect and trust this person. And it needs to be someone you are comfortable receiving direct feedback from. Make it clear this is what you want from them and ask them to hold you to account. These conversations will help keep you on track when you start to procrastinate, or when you have to do some activities you find uncomfortable.
Of course, if you’re undertaking a BD Coaching programme that means sharing it with your coach. However, it also pays to share it with a colleague too. Great coaching comes from a formal and informal approach which, when combined, really helps to imbed it into your firm’s culture.
Your BD plan should serve as the compass guiding your BD efforts and how you receive your coaching support. Investing time and effort in creating a well-structured BD plan will ensure you navigate your business development commitment effectively, enabling your practice to thrive, even during challenging times.
During periods of either increased or decreased demand for your services, a structured and consistent BD program becomes even more critical to sustain and strengthen your revenue streams. Failure to do so may lead to a sharp decline in revenue or market share when the market inevitably shifts.
Ben Paul is the CEO The BD Ladder, a consultancy specialising in helping professional services firms grow their revenue and build effective BD and marketing strategies. He has held senior BD and marketing roles in leading professional services firms and has over two decades’ experience in business development and marketing.