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a marketing session. After the partners discuss their ideas and identify
their current network, each partner is given an assignment. There are
no quantifiable penalties for failing to complete your assignment.
However, the desire to succeed and the fear of letting down partners
and peers significantly outweigh the inertia that professionals must
overcome to market the firm and develop business.
Conversely, a mid-size accounting firm in Seattle uses the “carrot”
as opposed to the stick. This firm has instituted a series of incentives to
encourage its professionals to market the firm and develop business.
For example, the firm awards two round-trip tickets to the professional
who brings in the most new business in a given quarter. Further, the
firm shares fees with the professional(s) responsible for originating
every client. Significant accomplishments can result from ensuring that
the incentives of the firm and its human capital are aligned.
• Managers or the management committee of a firm must understand the
boundaries of the firm™s human capital. Certain members of the team
Marketing and Business Development

will not be well suited nor have the desire or aptitude to market the
firm or develop business. For example, an accountant may be able to
perform his or her work functions proficiently but have no desire and
little ability to market the firm or develop business. However, so long as
the decision makers understand that every team has its utility players
and that certain professional staff are not well suited for developing
business, this obstacle can be overcome.

The inherent inefficiencies of the partner model, while oftentimes out-
weighed by the benefits, should be evaluated by the firm. Many profes-
sional services firms adhering to this model are concerned that their
human capital will, at the expense of servicing their clients and driving
revenue, spend too much time marketing the firm and developing business.
While you can never lose sight of the fact that the firm drives revenue and
succeeds as a result of the work effort put forth by its personnel, you have
to complement those efforts with a diligent marketing and business devel-
opment strategy. If the firm does not continuously build on its existing
relationships and work to develop new relationships, it will eventually col-
lapse. Successful professional services firms are able to maintain a constant
f low of new business.

techniques are used to develop business and drive revenue with the partner
model. The first technique focuses on the firms ability to demonstrate expert-
ise in specific practice areas. This technique concentrates on the exhibition of
substantive, relevant proficiencies of interest to clients.
The second technique focuses on your ability to develop relationships as a
means of driving business. The relationship approach is controversial in that
some believe it the most efficient way to develop business while others ques-
tion its effectiveness. However, most professionals would agree that clients
typically hire firms or specific professionals that they like and trust. The
techniques are complementary and not mutually exclusive, and in fact, work
best together.

Developing Business by Demonstrating
Your Expertise and Competency

As with any marketing effort, it is critical to define the target market before
implementing any strategy. After defining the target market, there are sev-
eral ways to ensure that potential clients understand the focus of the firms
expertise and services, including:
130 The Front Office: Driving Sales and Growth

• It is important to write well and often. People believe what they read
and recognize authors as authorities on a given topic. Further, writing
is an effective means by which you can display your analytical skills.
Publishing an article on a specific area or focus of your practice allows
you to build your reputation as an expert in that field. Additionally,
writing an article and publishing it in a reputable venue, such as an
academic journal or industry publication, provides instant credibility
with the audience.
It is important, as we have discussed, to focus business develop-
ment efforts on the target market. It is most efficient, and a better use
of resources, to publish in the trade journals or periodicals most often
read and relied on by existing and potential clients in the target mar-
ket. Establishing expertise within the target market builds reputation
and leads to more business. However, many professionals argue that
there is an additional tangible benefit to publishing in journals and pe-
riodicals within the profession. By establishing the firm as an expert
or an authority on a given topic, the firm is in a position to receive
referrals from peers when issues arise within the specific area of
• In addition to writing, members of the firm can enhance the reputa-
tion of the firm by speaking on issues central to the firm™s expertise.
Most people are uncomfortable speaking in public, and therefore such
opportunities are well suited to separate the firm from the competi-
tion. However, as with every technique discussed in this chapter, the
firm should focus its efforts on the target market. It is more produc-
tive to speak to a room full of potential clients than to a room of ex-
isting and potential competitors. Being in front of the target market
and speaking on issues important to the audience, makes the firm a re-
liable and respected authority on the topic. Secondarily, it helps es-
tablish expertise in a unique area of practice, and puts the firm in
position to receive referrals from others in the profession.
• Market your proficiencies and assist your clients and prospective
clients by offering periodic seminars or discussion groups wherein re-
cent developments or important areas of the profession are discussed.
Rather than arranging to speak at a function organized by another (pos-
sibly competitive) group, you may consider hosting round-table discus-
sions or seminars at your offices. A large accounting firm in the
Southwest believes in this marketing strategy. In fact, this particular
firm invites all of its clients as well as many prospective clients to
monthly luncheons where its members discuss recent developments in
the accounting profession. By providing a forum for the free exchange
of ideas and the presentation of recent developments affecting its
clients, the firm is able to assist the community while developing its
Marketing and Business Development

reputation, securing its existing client base, and developing new clients
who become aware of the firm™s competency based on their participa-
tion in the discussion groups. It is important to stay in front of existing
and potential clients and to continually remind them of your services,
reputation, competency, and abilities.
• Publishing periodic newsletters is another way to provide clients and
prospective clients with valuable information while displaying the
firm™s competency and focus. Remember, it is critical to continually de-
velop the firm™s reputation within the target market. Further, and more
specifically, it is important to keep the firm™s reputation in the forefront
of clients™ and prospective clients™ minds.
• An additional technique is to help clients and prospective clients by as-
sisting them with their business. By sponsoring an activity that brings
together clients and prospective clients who can work with or assist
one another, you become known as a facilitator. If you can help your
clients and prospective clients accomplish deals and drive business,
they will likely want to help by giving you their business. A large con-
sulting firm in the Southeast exemplifies this strategy by sponsoring
an annual retreat attended by bankers and business owners. The syn-
ergies of this connection are obvious, and the firm has experienced a
great deal of success in pairing up its clients and prospective clients.
By assisting the members of its target market with their respective
businesses, the firm ensures its place at the forefront of their thoughts
and has driven extensive business from these outings.

Developing Business through Relationships
Developing business for a professional services firm is not a function of merely
selling the firm and the skills of its human capital. Rather, business is driven
by developing relationships of trust and confidence with existing and potential
clients. Several years ago, professionals experienced substantial success by
merely befriending clients and potential clients. However, competition today
mandates that you do much more than just be a good friend. In today™s com-
petitive market, it is critical that you instill in your clients and potential
clients a sense of trust and confidence in your abilities. The combination of a
strong, competitive service offering and a personal trusted relationship is a
powerful driver of successful professional services business development.
When considering the strategies outlined here, keep in mind a few basic

• Make sure you have sufficiently defined the firm, the services, and the
target markets.
132 The Front Office: Driving Sales and Growth

• Develop relationships within the target market. For example, if the
firm is targeting money managers, then the most helpful relationships
will be with professionals in that area, or in related areas.
• Before beginning a relationship, do your homework. Business develop-
ment professionals should become acquainted and proficient with re-
search tools and learn as much as possible about a potential client
before even meeting him or her.

After defining the firm and its service offerings, defining the target mar-
ket and ideal client, and doing your homework, there are several techniques
that, if utilized, can effectively drive business through the development of
relationships. Those techniques include the following: (1) developing a net-
work for business referrals; (2) forming strategic alliances; (3) participating in
charitable and community organizations; (4) maintaining and cultivating rela-
tionships; (5) presenting yourself with confidence; (6) practicing diligence
and perseverance; (7) focusing; and (8) offering assistance to everyone, even
those who may not be able to help you as much as you can help them. More

1. Many smaller and even some larger firms receive a great deal of new
business through referrals. Firms are often conf licted from repre-
senting new or existing clients based on actual conf licts of interest
due to existing clients and staffing issues. By establishing relation-
ships with your peers, which may also be competitors, you can posi-
tion yourself to benefit from referrals. However, it is important
exercise diligence in following up on referrals and delivering for
them. “Dropped” referrals and poorly executed delivery will end all
further referrals from that source.
2. Firms offering specialized services often form strategic relationships
with firms that offer other and complementary services. For exam-
ple, if you operate a law firm that exclusively focuses on serving the
litigation needs of its clients, you can benefit by forming a relation-
ship with firms that specialize in other areas of law such as securities
compliance. By doing this, you can establish mutually beneficial rela-
tionships. For example, the litigation firm can refer its corporate
work to a firm specializing in corporate law and vice versa. However,
be careful to select your strategic partners wisely”they may become
an important source of revenue. Strategic partnerships are the focus
of Chapter 6.
3. Giving back to the community by participating in charitable organi-
zations is beneficial on a personal level for professional staff and
often provides the additional benefit of improving networks and driv-
ing business. When selecting a charitable organization, pick one that
Marketing and Business Development

focuses on a cause you believe in. Although participating in charita-
ble organizations is hard work, it is very rewarding. You can en-
hance your reputation within the community by giving your time to
help others. Further, you will be surprised how many potential
clients you will meet during your involvement. It is human nature to
want to help those who are helping others. For example, many profes-
sionals have found that joining their local Rotary Club has positively
impacted their practice while providing them with a rich sense of
4. Take advantage of your past. Keeping in touch with childhood, college,
and postgraduate friends is helpful on several levels. For purposes of
developing business, those long-term relationships can prove invalu-
able. You can either maintain these relationships on your own or
through the assistance of organized alumni associations. Every major
university, fraternity, and sorority organizes reunions around the coun-
try. The easiest way to locate these groups is to search the Internet for
organizational information. By being involved, you are assured of
meeting people with interests similar to yours. This is a great way to
begin new relationships and further develop existing ones. When
searching out clients, you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference
a common bond will make.
5. While it is important to always present yourself as confident and en-
gaging, professionals must be aware of the fine line between confi-
dence and arrogance. While confidence is contagious, arrogance is not.
6. Be diligent and persevere. Networking is time consuming and diffi-
cult to do well. After every encounter, you should follow up with an
e-mail, a handwritten note, or a telephone call. The personal touch of
a note or call is always appreciated and memorable, but if time does
not permit then an e-mail will suffice. The most important reason,
however, to be diligent is that most people are not. Diligence and
perseverance in your personal relationships is an easy way to differ-
entiate yourself. Remember, if you decide to use relationships as a
means of driving business, keep your focus, remain diligent, and you
will see results.
7. Maintaining focus, while difficult, is essential to successfully devel-
oping business and operating a professional services firm. Without
focus, your ability to develop business is greatly compromised. For ex-
ample, it is important to address administrative issues. However, if
you spend too much time worrying about administrative issues, you
may lose sight of your primary goals and the firm will suffer. Often
internal, administrative, and delivery issues are more attractive to
professional staff than developing new business. Addressing such is-
sues does not carry the risk of rejection and still feels like “work”
134 The Front Office: Driving Sales and Growth

to firm management. Guarding against this tendency and staying
focused on new opportunities is critical for the firm, particularly with
the partner-based sales model.
8. It is important to always be willing to offer assistance to others before
asking for assistance yourself. If you are truly willing to help someone
and ask for nothing in return, it is almost certain that he or she will
return the favor at some point. Ask what you can do to help and make
sure to follow through. When those whom you have assisted, or even
offered to assist, return the favor and offer to help you, be ready with
a response. Be specific. Always let people know exactly what they can
do to help. By being specific in your request for assistance, you in-
crease the chances that assistance will be provided. For example, if
people ask you how they can help, it is not constructive to merely ask
them to refer business to you or keep your firm in mind if they are
ever in need of assistance. Rather, be specific. Ask to be introduced
to someone in particular. If you are an accountant, you may ask to be
introduced to a high net-worth client. By being specific, you can more
easily follow up. If you ask people to refer business to you, it is diffi-
cult to follow up by asking why they have failed to do so. However, if
you ask for a specific introduction, you can follow up if the introduc-
tion is not made in a timely manner.

In summary, the main characteristics of a successful marketer are (1) dili-
gence and perseverance, (2) focus, (3) confidence, (4) a willingness to assist
others, and (5) an ability to maintain and cultivate relationships.
When deciding which marketing and business development techniques


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