Wednesday 04 October 2017, London

Liz Whitaker and Paul Richmond, The GroGroup

Peter Scoffham, PwC

As marketing and BD professionals, being able to demonstrate return on investment is key in order to build our credibility among fee earners. We should be able to look at spend as a proportion of returns, but there is low demand for this information, particularly in law firms.

The perception of value BD and marketing has within a professional services firm does not always carry itself to the fee earners themselves. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet with which to achieve this, but doing small things consistently well will help gain fee earners’ credibility and trust.

Do your internal clients know what they want?

More often than not, fee earners want their BD and marketing functions to solve their problems, without having given thought to what the solution is themselves: What clients should they be targeting? What are we offering them? How are we going to measure success? These are all questions fee earners tend not to have the answers to.

But it’s not all their fault. Rarely do fee earners get any significant BD training, and the level of business development skills you can expect from partners is very firm dependant. While most partners think they are there to do the job at hand – be it law, tax or accountancy – at the end of the day, they are all there to make a profit for the firm. It is the job of BD and marketing to educate fee earners in a way that will help them think about the solutions to their problems so they know what they really want to achieve with their marketing campaign.

How is your performance measured?

It is essential to understand the difference between three key measurements, and be able to articulate the differences to your fee earners:

Output: The tangible marketing collateral produced – events run, blogs written, adverts created etc.

Outcomes: Easily quantifiable results – attendance, click through rates, downloads, enquiries etc.

Impact: The hardest element to measure, but the one we should all be targeting because it is the most compelling element for the fee earners themselves; partners want evidence to demonstrate that campaigns are improving their profit share – number of new meetings, new clients or proposals sent etc.

The key in measuring any of these is to know your starting point and benchmark improvements against it

Once we do this and start focusing more on impact measurements, we will be able to change the evaluation of a marketing campaign and its ROI internally. Additionally, fee earners who understand the difference between an output, outcome and impact will then be able to contribute to the decision-making process; by giving them a range of outcomes and impacts to choose from, fee earners can be part of the solution, making them more engaged and more attached to the success of marketing and BD’s efforts.

What is your focus in BD and marketing? Think like a fee earner!

Our focus should be on the business and vision, and how a particular campaign contributes to the overall strategy we are working towards. Challenge and question the euphemisms put to us by stakeholders – “I need you to get this out now!!”, “Okay, but what’s driving the deadline? Help me understand” – in order to measure and optimise each campaign.

Speak internal stakeholders’ language – focusing on the marketing collateral will make partners switch off; leveraging profit demands will demonstrate your desire to achieve their goal, as well as yours. On average, fee earners need to recuperate around three times the cost of something in order to make a profit – demonstrate how you are helping them achieve this, and it will make it harder for them to ignore the marketing and BD functions.

What have lions got to do with it?

The similarities between fee earners winning new work and a pride of lions hunting are uncanny:

  • Lions only hunt when they are hungry; the hungrier the fee earner, the more likely they are to take on your advice
  • Lions hunt with one goal, there are no distractions; fee earners only want to make a profit
  • Every lion has a role to play, there is teamwork, but also competition, and when they are not hunting, the pride socialises; fee earners work for the overall team, but also compete for themselves, and who doesn’t love a Friday afternoon pint when the hunting is done for the week?

Therefore, it is important that you pick your winners, and understand the different stakeholder types within the firm and their motivations: talk to them, their PAs, find out who their clients are and bring relevant client news or thought leadership to their attention – proactively demonstrate interest in making them look good. Look for quick wins like this to help you build trust and demonstrate the value you can bring.

Cultivate the Ambassadors, those with high influence in the partnership and you work together well with, and who can help you win the prizes.

Win the Prizes, those with good potential and a rising profile in the firm, but you are not yet working together with.

Drop the Deadweights, those who hate marketing processes, don’t see the value in CRM systems, and want to manage their own campaigns and email traffic.

Support the Eager Beavers, those with a new role or target who are keen for your help. These can easily be converted into ambassadors.

Motivate the Pirates, by using the progress of competitors, internal and external, motivate your partners against to get their attention and make them want to use the BD and marketing function.

Humour the Smileys, these are popular characters, enjoyable company, but low in influence. They can take up marketing time and energy.

The power of personal – how to demonstrate ROI in you

The biggest challenge for BD and marketing is not the work, but demonstrating value within the work. Once you have picked your winners, support them, work at the commercial elements of the relationship, and go the extra mile to make yourself invaluable. Make sure your internal clients are on the journey with you by speaking in the language of ROI, so stakeholders aren’t jarred by marketing jargon they do not understand. And finally, once a goal has been established, make it a team goal by including the partner in the process, and motivate them by adding peer pressure and personal goals into the equation. This will help you better understand a stakeholder’s drive, but also make it easier for you in re-focusing them if they lose sight of the goal.

By Genna Stainforth, Account Executive at Acritas