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Business development is about to get a lot harder. Or not. A lot of law firms are making big bets on this fundamental question behind market success.

Our flash survey of more than 1,000 attorneys and law firm leaders (conducted over the last 2 weeks) reveals the split on business development getting harder or not. Here’s what they think:

The Believers

53% think business development is going to get a lot harder from here. The main reasons:

  • Clients are more demanding
  • Changing needs and priorities
  • In-house counsel turnover
  • More partners with less business development experience in their firm
  • Increased demands placed on in-house counsel by their management
  • Don’t have the skills
  • More competition
  • Losing our rainmakers

The Confident  

47% believe business development will not get harder. Primary reasons include:

  • It’s already monumentally hard — it can’t get harder
  • I am getting better at this
  • I am focusing on a small number of clients and finding it easier than shot gunning
  • I am becoming an expert in Life Sciences transactions and it’s developing referrals
  • My social media is generating more leads than I thought it would
  • I stopped trying to cross sell — now it’s so much easier — I don’t have to work with others

Plan for the Worst — Hope for the Best

Top rainmakers tell us they are always honing their skills and building the BD tool kit. They are hungry to learn, enjoy developing business, and want to improve their skills. They presume business development will get harder as they believe they always have to be one step ahead of clients to get and keep the business. The very nature of client relationships makes it an ongoing, ever building process.

Believers give mostly market-based reasons, the Confident rely on proven strategies and skills — or believe they are at peak difficulty.

Every ounce of our research suggests BD is just going to get harder. The strategies in use by those who think business development will get harder are among the most effective BD strategies. Successful Confidents will likely convert to Believers as they experience more success — and this success will serve as the fuel to keep learning and improving.

Best in the market ahead.


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