How to Focus your Business Development Efforts

Let’s assume you have a business development goal to double the revenue you generate for the firm from 250 to 500K. You will need a plan. And you will need focus. A few strategies consistently applied will bring your closer to your 500K goal quicker than a complicated plan that overwhelms you. For many, even the idea of business development can feel overwhelming. And feeling overwhelmed is a great justification for putting things off until tomorrow. So let’s make this very simple.

In professional services (law, accounting etc.) there are typically 5-6 basic stages in the sales process: prospecting, qualifying, early stage opportunity, late stage opportunity, getting retained, delivering and ideally repeating!

To help you focus your efforts, see which question gets the loudest yes:

If you called every lead/ contact/ prospect you have, would you be done by coffee break? Find more prospects.

Do you have a drawer full of business cards/ a phone full of contacts that you have never called? Book meetings (coffees, lunches) to qualify.

Do you follow up often with opportunities but have trouble getting retained? Focus on late stage opportunities and ask for the business.

Is it likely your current clients have other needs but you are so busy delivering that you don’t explore what else you/ a colleague could do? Become diligent about asking questions/ making intros so you get retained again and again.

Let’s say your loudest “yes” was for finding more prospects. Turn your attention there and figure out what you need to do to move the needle. There are a few essentials:

  • know who your ideal client is in detail (and who your dud clients are).
  • come up with a list of targets you think can fit your “ideal client” profile.
  • practice your story (how you help your clients either move away from some pain or how you help them move toward some compelling desire). For example: “I help island business avoid unionization and ensure a harmonious workforce. I am a Labour and Employment lawyer. My name is Peter Melnyk of Cox & Palmer.”


With a solid foundation, you can then focus on a simple networking strategy, for example: attend events where your prospective clients frequent, have purposeful conversations with them and follow up to book a meeting to better understand their issues. A strategy that has you in direct contact with prospects coupled with a follow up will be far more effective in the short-term than a writing or public speaking strategy. These are good too but might take longer and will also require a personal follow up.

Business development is as simple as picking a couple of strategies and applying them consistently for a solid period of time.

What stage in the sales process deserves your focus? What will you commit to for the rest of the fiscal year to advance your business development goals?

Overwhelm is passé. I think you are tired of it too!


These books all offer valuable insights:

1. Rainmaking Made Simple: What Every Professional Must Know by Mark M. Maraia

2. Get Clients Now: A 28 Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants and Coaches by C. J. Hayden

3. Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle by Michael Port

4. To Sell is Human: The Surprizing Truths About Moving People by Daniel H. Pink

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