Let’s admit it – senior income generators in professional service firms are still not fully committed to carrying out effective BD. But is it their fault? I don’t think so.
Senior management, heads of BD functions and heads of practice groups are partly responsible for this lacking. I want to shed some light on this and propose some solutions.
My proposition is that there’s a Knowing – Doing gap. Broadly speaking I think the average partner in, say, a law firm knows that:
- They should focus their BD efforts on a limited number of key clients
- It will help their practice if they have deep industry and technical knowledge
- They should introduce colleagues to their clients
- They should carry out regular client reviews
But they don’t do most of these things.
And we are the same in our personal lives. We know we should:
- Eat less food (and healthier food) and drink less alcohol
- Do more exercise
- Have dental check-ups every 6 months
- Call our parents every weekend
But most of us don’t do all these things regularly.
So what’s going on here? I put it down to ‘the dark angel’ syndrome. It’s as if there’s a dark angel whispering in our ear. A partner might not be conscious of the voice, but it might be saying ‘don’t introduce George to this client, they might mess things up’. Or even worse, ‘the client might prefer George to me’.
I don’t go the dentist regularly because the dark angel has convinced me that they will carry out unnecessary work, which might lead to more problems in the future.
You get the point? We all know we should do lots of things, but we just don’t do them. The Knowing-Doing gap!
If there’s something in my proposition, then just repeating what the senior income generators should be doing with their business development isn’t addressing the problem. They already know these things. We need to address the messages from the dark angels.
In Part 2 of this article I offer some potential solutions. I’ll just say for now that there are very different conversations to be had by senior management, BD functions and heads of practice groups. Watch this space!
My suggested remedies are here: https://tonyreiss.com/2017/10/23/business-development-in-professional-firms-is-still-lacking-part-2-the-remedies/