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Ten steps towards business development success for employment law firms

(Estimated reading time: 4 minutes 1 second)

You may be an expert employment lawyer, but how about a helping hand with business development to help you generate more enquiries or convert prospects into new clients?

Below we have some extracts from our forthcoming, updated Temple Employment Disputes Insurance handbook, which includes marketing and business development advice. The ability to be able to sell effectively to your prospects can make an obvious difference to your new business enquiries.

Step 1 – Review your own network of contacts. Collate prospect email addresses from messages you’ve received, from business cards you may hold and from networking groups you may attend, to find any likely prospects you could approach. At the risk of stating the obvious, LinkedIn is particularly useful for this. Also consider cross-selling opportunities e.g. your commercial litigation team may know of some of their clients who would benefit from your employment disputes insurance package.

Step 2 – Identifying and categorising your prospects. Sorting them by geographic location, industry type and size of business are just three ways of compiling and segmenting your list. Online local searches for businesses in particular industry sectors can be a good start e.g. ‘manufacturing companies in xxxxshire’. Trade association websites can also be a good source of potential contacts.

Step 3 – Once you have your list of prospects… carry out some research to see what you can learn about their business and current situation by studying their website, customer feedback, social media channels etc. This can reveal insights about their specialisations and any issues they may be experiencing. In addition, look for employment-related news about businesses on your prospect list. Setting up ‘Google Alerts’ can be very helpful with this task.

Step 4 – Why is researching your prospects important?  This will help you prepare more relevant and personalised communications, including identifying a named person at the business to whom you feel it would be most relevant to send it. It is essential you double-check any information you may find about a potential client (see GDPR below) and are consistent with your firm’s own business development procedures.

Step 5 – GDPR and your prospect list – as a law firm, you will be up to speed with the relevant requirements. Here is a question for you to consider – ‘If a business (not an individual) that you have identified as a prospect has a website in the public domain and staff profiles that includes their email address – would it be logical to assume that the email address has been provided in order to allow people from outside of that business to communicate with them?’ The question of whether your service may be of legitimate interest to them is one for you to decide.

Step 6 – If an email address for a business prospect is not available online, a phone call asking to identify the relevant decision-maker might work, but may be met with “It is company policy not to provide email addresses to ‘phone enquiries”. An alternative might be asking via your own connections from local and other networking; you may not directly know someone at that target business yourself but think about who might be able to provide a contact name – even better if they may be able to provide an introduction for you.

Step 7 – Encouraging your best customers to become advocates for your firm’s legal services is a worthwhile investment – this involves spending time more than money to build those relationships. Do remember that legal advice is not a regular purchase for any smaller businesses you may be looking to attract.

Step 8 – Emails are ubiquitous, but an advantage of them is that – if they are sent from email marketing software/system – any opens, links clicked etc can be tracked and used as a guide for who to follow up. Be aware that email campaigns generally help with client retention, but less so with relationship building – that needs human face time/interaction i.e. a follow-up call.

Step 9 – So much communication is electronic nowadays but do not underestimate the value of a well written, personalised sales letter, an attractive and informative brochure and giving an incentive to get in touch. This may be best for sending to smaller numbers of warmer prospects due to the cost of print/postage etc – or perhaps after an initial larger-scale email campaign – but only sending to those who may have opened/clicked.

Step 10 – Send a manageable number of letters/emails to potential clients. This is so they can be followed up with a ‘phone call within 7 – 10 working days in order to gauge interest. Briefly describe the scheme and offer a brochure/downloadable PDF with covering letter/email.

To find out more about Temple’s work with employment lawyers and our Employment Disputes Insurance please click here.  Alternatively, please call Sarah Steer on 01483 514874 or email