The Four Essential Rules of Business Development Coaching

by Wicker Park Group
Contact

It is the rare firm these days that does not offer some form of career and/or business development coaching services to its attorneys. Just about everyone in legal marketing has been asked to “coach” lawyers. Often, however, coaching attorneys in business development is easier said than done. And it can be complicated when succession issues are part of the coaching challenge. So, recognizing that every coaching situation is truly unique, below are four principles that I believe will improve the chances for success in business development coaching:

Enthusiasm is a prerequisite.

Some firms view business development coaching as a remedial solution for lawyers who are unable (or more often unwilling to try) to secure new clients or expand work for current clients. Unless the lawyer is truly enthusiastic about the prospect of business development coaching, the effort is likely to fail. Coaching itself can be perceived as punishment or a reflection of failure. A few firms ask their lawyer-coachees to help pay for coaching services (for an outside coach), believing that “skin in the game” will confirm the level of enthusiasm important for coaching success.

Coaching in business development works when the service is viewed as a reward for positive effort, not as a last-ditch effort to save a struggling colleague. Career coaching might be the better approach.

Seek real leadership support.

Without leadership support, any marketing or business development initiative is handicapped. This principle is doubly true for coaching efforts. Real leadership support goes beyond simple ratification at an ExCom meeting, however. Those in leadership positions—practice group leaders, acknowledged rainmakers, office managing partners and members of the executive team—should be maintaining a high level of awareness about the business development coaching effort. In addition, they might practice MBWA (management by walking around) and visit colleagues receiving coaching support, offering words of interest and encouragement.

Those most receptive to business development coaching tend to be younger partners and senior associates. They are at the point in their careers when business development acumen is of significant importance to career advancement.

Set realistic goals.

One great advantage coaching provides is the opportunity to truly customize business development goals and measures. The lawyers I coach initially focus their business development efforts too narrowly, don’t really have a focus and/or are unorganized. Individually, our market is our network. Set goals around the individual relationships that matter and agree on activities necessary to strengthen those relationships in ways that lead to new work opportunities. The time gap between coaching sessions should include specific “to dos” to be completed prior to the next session.

Manage and track performance.

We suggest three performance measures:

  • A financial measure such as new client origination credit, matter origination credit or growth in billable work attributable, in whole or part, to specific business development activities.
  • An activity measure. Track the increase in both number and quality of business development activities. Agree on the relative value of different activities.
  • A promoter measure. How do the lawyers in the program regard its relative value to themselves and the firm?

Knowing the answer to these combined measures will help you make improvements for future coaching.

Business development coaching is just that—coaching. The proof is in the performance of those receiving the coaching support. Ultimately, coaching services should result in better business development habits to the point where coaching is no longer necessary. By incorporating the four principles noted above, firms will significantly improve the value of coaching and, in turn, business development performance.

Written by:

Wicker Park Group
Contact
more
less

Wicker Park Group on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.