BD has gone super-digital and isn’t going back
If you’re reading this post, congratulations.
You’ve started to future-proof yourself against a change that not everyone in the legal world has clued onto yet.
What exactly is that?
That COVID-19 has changed the way lawyers find, nurture and acquire new clients forever.
We know this is a big claim.
And we wouldn’t say it if we didn’t have evidence to back us up.
But the reality is that when half of the world’s population gets locked down,1 there’s going to be a shift.
And there’s plenty of evidence that legal BD has changed.
It’s interesting that we’re hearing this from a lot of people.
We’re hearing this message from industry legends, incumbents, governments, and start-ups.
Basically, everyone with an interest in staying at the top of law.
In the legal BD community, people are constantly asking us about the effects of COVID-19 on their job.
So yes. Legal business development has changed.
And it’s not going back.
New strengths for the world of digital BD
It’s something we accept now, but it wasn’t always the case that a person could graduate from law school, be admitted, interview for their first job and work for a year without ever setting foot in a courtroom or physical office.
But this is exactly what’s happening all over the world.
The number of people working full-time in offices has never been lower than in 2021.
And McKinsey recently published a report saying that 9 out of 10 companies will adopt hybrid working models.
That little fact cannot be underestimated.
90% of the world’s companies will tell their employees that they should work from home at least a day a week.
How many lawyers do you know that prefer in-person meetings to a Zoom call?
How many lawyers roll their eyes upon hearing the words ‘LinkedIn’, ‘account-based marketing’ or ‘content’?
If you are – or work with – a lawyer who doesn’t roll their eyes and understands how vital and proven these concepts are for modern professional services marketing, you’re lucky.
They are in the minority.
Many lawyers are still coming to grips with the idea that their income – their clients – have moved out of the office down the street.
They might say things like:
“It’s quiet now, but it’ll change. People are coming back.”
Or: “They’re on holiday – lockdowns hit everyone hard.”
Or maybe: “They’re not avoiding my calls – they’re just busy.”
This is what many lawyers are telling themselves, even as every other day we read about another law firm that hit an all-time revenue record during the hardest months of COVID-19.
It doesn’t add up.
On one view, clients have disappeared. On another view, clients are more accessible and engaged than they’ve ever been.
Of course, the right answer is that they haven’t disappeared.
They’ve just moved somewhere else, where many lawyers aren’t used to looking, operating, and building networks in.
Online – on digital platforms.
That’s what happens when 90% of companies send their people home for a better work-life balance.
When a virus sends cities into lockdown for months.
When everyone is at home in their PJs, spending time with their families and kids, rather than cooped up in the city.
When clients are online, something else happens.
While many lawyers will sit around, wondering why clients aren’t responding to lunch invites, a few firms will realise that they need to adapt their strategy to this new, hybrid world.
These firms will start working away at winning their target clients in a more digitally enabled, personalised and constant way.
Those firms will win clients. And they will grow, even if they’re not aiming to.
That’s what we’re seeing here at NEXL – and that’s what we want to help you start doing today.
Strategy 1: Optimise for engagement and inclusivity
How early in the COVID era did you realise that the playing field for legal BD had changed?
As a SaaS start-up working with law firms (and team members) based all over the world, our team felt the impacts of COVID-19 pretty early.
At NEXL, we doubled down on companywide comms.
We also made sure that every single NEXL team member was able to contribute their views and suggestions to the rest of their workstream on a weekly basis.
This allowed us to ensure that everyone felt included – and most importantly, that they owned a small part of our success.
This doesn’t mean gathering 100s of attorneys into a Zoom meeting where one partner gives a sermon on the firm’s financial performance.
It means using meetings, workshops, planning software and collaboration tools in a new way.
It means inviting each person to take ownership of their contribution to company-wide goals.
It means meetings that are led by the employees, rather than the manager, and which involve a 2-way dialogue.
It means regularly aligning each person with the others they work with.
And it means regular updates, without any micro-management, through a good project-management or goal-tracking platform.
If, like at NEXL, everyone at your firm feels that they have a part in the firm’s success in winning clients – everyone wins.
Strategy 2: Continuous Collaboration
This one might be obvious, but the age of -only work is over.
The digital collaboration tools available to law firms today are incredibly powerful.
They empower individuals to work together from any location.
And importantly, they are lightyears ahead in terms of usability and simplicity than any of the options available 5 years ago.
Collaboration technologies – from google docs, to payment providers, to automated CRMs like NEXL – are expected to be flawless, intuitive tools that work in the background.
And developers have listened.
Today’s digital collaboration technologies are incredibly smart, unobtrusive, intuitive ‘one-button’ solutions.
At NEXL, talking to dozens of lawyers about what they needed done in the background is what led us to automate the contact-tracking process.
It’s a feature that constantly surprises and impresses our clients.
NEXL embeds itself into your marketing email systems.
That’s a huge time saver.
And it makes for powerful, data-driven .
After all, technology should make your life as easy as possible.
It’s also why we recently implemented an intuitive marketing project management / collaboration feature in NEXL.
Law firms need to use these technologies to ensure that their lawyers are able to save energy and time for what matters.
Engaging clients; communicating with colleagues; and solving complex legal problems.
Strategy 3: Alignment, Alignment, Alignment
In a hybrid environment, it is one thing to have great contribution from team members, and another to do it efficiently.
The third and key piece of hybrid strategy is alignment.
Everyone should be reading the “same newspaper”.
When your BD managers and attorneys aren’t in the same office, it’s critical that there is one source of truth.
People should be able to easily see a complete image of contact with a client.
It should be as easy as when you read over the last few messages your friend sent you before you send them a new message on your phone.
You wouldn’t ask your friend about how their day went three times in a row.
But you’d be surprised how many firms are happy to accept a BD process where three different lawyers ask the same client the same question.
NEXL’s Contact & Client Management feature allows everyone in your law firm to see exactly when the last contact was sent, and what it was about.
This saves time, ensures consistent messaging and allows marketing and lawyers to synchronise seamlessly.
In summary, hybrid work is the future. At NEXL, we are here to help you win in this new playing field.