In the fourth of our series profiling our five winners of Totum’s Best Business Leaders awards, we are delighted to talk to Adam Soames, Global Head of Business Development & Strategy at Hogan Lovells.

Adam Soames has a long history in transformational projects at Hogan Lovells. But he was selected for one of Totum’s Best Business Leaders awards for his recent development and roll-out of the firm’s Sales Transformation Programme, which sits at the heart of the firm’s strategic priorities. In under two years, he has established a Sales Academy for lawyer and BD team training and coaching, rolled-out a leading-edge ‘Pitch-to-Win’ best practice approach, and re-positioned and grown the Pitch & Pursuits team to be a highly valued function across the firm. This has been key to doubling the firm’s pitch win rate and contributed to the firm posting record results in 2021.Prioritising sales

Two years back and with a new CEO in place at Hogan Lovells, Adam Soames saw an opportunity to spearhead some serious change. With well over a decade already under his belt at the firm at that time, he already had experience of transformational programmes including implementing a successful clients and industries programme. But he could still see an opportunity for the firm to be more proactive with clients and win more work.

‘We have a fantastic client base, but I could see a need to become more sales oriented, more entrepreneurial. I met with our new incoming CEO Miguel Zaldivar in the spring of 2020 and we had a meeting of minds. That’s when the sales programme was born. While we were in the midst of pandemic, we undertook a discovery exercise with our own rainmakers and a range of external experts who understood best practice in the market. This helped us form the basis of the plan,’ Adam explains. It was one aimed at fostering a sales culture and a mindset of growth and cross-selling. It took a three-pronged approach:

  1. Sharpening our selling skills – by establishing a Sales Academy to train lawyers and BD teams to proactively engage with clients and convert new business opportunities.
  2. Recognising, rewarding and celebrating new business success, including successfully piloting a New Business Incentive scheme for lawyers and business services teams below Partner level, and a ‘Win of the Week’ internal communications campaign.
  3. Delivering world class pitches by establishing a new ‘Pitch to Win’ best practice approach, including a Ready-Set-Go framework and a new Pitch Mentor role played by trained, independent Partners.

As part of the process the firm’s global pitch function was moved to sit under Adam’s leadership. There followed a number of strategic changes to the team, including a restructure, realignment across the business, a new best practice approach, and an expanded, high quality team. The team has raised its profile both within M&BD and across the wider firm – but it’s the figures that really talk. The firm’s pitch win rate rose from 24% in 2019 to 50% in 2021, including a win rate of 67% when the pitch team was involved and 86% when pitch mentors were involved in the firm’s most strategic pitches in 2021.

‘In the first 18 months since launch, we have been laying the foundations for a cultural change that will take a number of years to embed,’ says Adam. ‘While we are in the early stages of the programme and have had some quick wins, it is a marathon not a sprint. But the word ‘Sales’ has become established internally, and The Sales Academy has helped reinforce this, by creating that sharper edge in our selling skills, through modules covering Successful Sales Conversations: The Psychology of Selling and Developing a Commercial Mindset.’

Experience and agility: Drivers for change

Adam describes himself as ambitious and driven, and absolutely committed to the Hogan Lovells brand – ‘Someone once fed back that I would bleed lime green!’ And where years with a firm could deaden some people’s enthusiasm for change, for Adam it has given him the ability to understand cultural nuances and drive change. ‘I have built such a good network across the firm. That means I can get to key influencers and it makes it easier for me to be able to engage people – both people at the top and lawyers on the ground across the firm. It probably helps that I’m determined, persistent and systematic too,’ he says.

He thinks his long experience in change programmes has given him an agile mindset – he has a strong sense of what will work and what doesn’t. And he has gained the confidence to take risks. ‘If you don’t ask, you won’t get and if you don’t try, you won’t succeed,’ he says.

In keeping with some of our other winners he is passionate about the value of communications. ‘You have to maintain that level of internal comms, which are critical. At the point when you’re getting tired of saying the same thing… That’s when people are just starting to hear. You can’t just drag people up the mountain, you have to bring people with you on the journey.’

Adam doesn’t see himself as a leader that just sits in a single function. Perhaps the fact that he doesn’t silo himself explains some of his ability to influence firmwide change – ie, he can see beyond the narrow confines of any one role or functional remit. And he takes that more holistic approach to his ideas around future talent development. ‘I would advocate having more effective school leaver/graduate programmes that give experience across different business services functions. Business services is the glue, helping frontline professionals get more work so you have to think across the whole of business services,’ he says.

Stepping up

Adam’s leadership combines huge experience with a clear willingness to think and act differently. Far from settling for what has always been done, he continues to break down ingrained perceptions and inject fresh insights into the way firms can win business. And it shows in the results. That the firm posted record results in 2021 is, of course, a product of a wider firm effort. But as his firm makes clear in Adam’s nomination, his work has been a significant contributor to such tangible success.

This is a world of business services marked by individuals like Adam who have the courage to step out of the comfort zone – to redefine success in the modern legal business.

Huge congratulations to Adam and to all our Best Business Leaders award winners. Thanks also to all those who submitted such fantastic nominations and to our judges who had the difficult job of choosing our winners.

Click here to read our other winner profiles:

If you would like any more information on our Best Business Leaders awards, please contact [email protected]