One of the easiest ways to fail in business development is to fail to plan. Currently, 95 percent of attorneys don’t have a written plan for how they are going to grow their sustainable book of business this year. A business development plan should include the big picture of what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months, and also break down your actions and behaviors on a daily basis. Here are the three areas of focus when writing a business development plan:
1. Set up your main objective
Your objective should be written as though you are certain it will happen. For example, I will hit $1 million in sales by June 2015. Or, I will bring in five new matters by the end of the 2014. By writing your objective in a positive way, you will reinforce belief on a conscious and subconscious level. Writing your objective should be easy, especially if you know your numbers from the past year.
2. Develop a series of strategies
Now that your objective is written, it’s time to write out 3-5 strategies that will help you accomplish that objective. Think for a moment about what you’ve done in the past that has brought you the most business with the least amount of effort. That could be introductions from satisfied clients or speaking at a conference where people clamored over you to have you call them. Grab the lowest hanging fruit before you get out your ladder and reach higher. Try to focus and limit yourself to only a few solid strategies or you may be spreading yourself too thin.
3. Create tactics to ensure your strategies are properly executed
The hardest part of developing more business is to effectively execute the strategies you’ve outlined. The key is to lay out the details or actions that will allow you to accomplish your strategies. Here are some guidelines for writing tactics:
- There should be five-seven tactics for each strategy;
- Each tactic should have three-five bullet points of detail;
- Think of the tactics as a story. Write them out with a beginning, middle and an end; and
- Each tactic should answer at least two of the following questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? The more detail you include, the more impactful these tactics will be for you.
A Sample Strategy: To leverage my existing database to obtain introductions.
Tactic 1: I will print out my outlook calendar with all contacts and rate them: A, B, or C based on the following parameters
- “A” defined as best relationship and best opportunity
- “B” defined as best relationship and good opportunity or best opportunity and good relationship
- “C” defined as good relationship and good opportunity (or not sure)
- I will have this list completed by Oct. 10, 2014
Tactic 2: I will develop a script to help me in calling my contacts to ensure success
- Script for my “A’s” goes like this, “Hey, ____, Love to grab a coffee with you in the next few weeks. Listen, ______, one of the things I was hoping we could talk about when we get together is looking at some contacts we might be able to make for one another. Is that something you’d be open to discussing when we get together?”
- Prepare an agenda for these meetings to review prior to meeting
- This will be created and ready to go by Oct. 15, 2014
This sample illustrates a few key points. First, the tactics define the who, what and when it’s going to be completed. Writing out the when is important because it sets a deadline, which is critical to getting things done. Second, these tactics are the beginning of the story and help to set up the execution of the plan. Getting lists together and formulating a script is crucial to success in appointment setting.
Follow the plan and make the appropriate adjustments along the way. If something isn’t working the way it’s written, then change it. Tracking your progress as you work your plan is half the battle. Keep the plan in front of you and look at it daily. Check off or highlight things that you’ve accomplished to see your progress.
Whether you use a GPS to find your destination or use a recipe to make a great meal, having a plan is always better than simply winging it. By writing a detailed plan, tracking it and finally updating your plan, the goals you set will actually get accomplished. Steve Fretzin