Trends in BD & marketing

 

Business development (BD) and marketing is a sophisticated business services function in law, offering a huge breadth and depth of roles. Typical responsibilities include developing new revenue streams in terms of clients and markets, delivering maximum relationship value to clients, pitch/bid management, safeguarding and building reputation, brand management, digital marketing, operational improvement, and effective internal and external comms (including demonstrating commercial expertise through thought leadership).

The fast pace of this function’s development, however, can make it difficult for both candidates and law firms to understand and make the most of this function’s huge potential. Our recent report, ‘BD and marketing: New roles, new horizons’, explores some of the key BD and marketing trends we are seeing first-hand through our work at Totum and explains what these developments mean for evolving job opportunities, and the future direction and effective leadership of this critical business team.

In this piece, we provide a few highlights from the report.

The evolution of the BD and marketing team

 

Totum’s BD and marketing team is always busy, with placements consistently coming in across specialist and generalist roles, and at all levels of seniority from Assistant to ‘Head of’ and Director level (these are typically board-level appointments). There is a good career development ladder in law firm BD and marketing teams, as well as competitive remuneration. Typical London salary ranges are shown in the table below.

Compensation and salary table

 

 

Today’s BD and marketing teams are helping law firms face challenges from several directions: increasing competition in the legal sector (arising from client demands for cost efficiencies, as well as new legal entrants offering alternative ways to deliver legal services), technology disruption and ongoing political and economic uncertainty.

Perhaps not surprisingly in a market in which firms are fighting hard to stand out from the crowd, improving client experience is a top priority among law firms. There has been considerable emphasis on demonstrating client/industry expertise, with BD and marketing professionals seeking to add value by understanding client priorities, business requirements and macro-economic environments. The focus is on demonstrably improving client delivery rather than merely promoting the technical skills of the firm’s lawyers.

Commercial thinking

 

This has had a knock-on effect in terms of recruitment. Law firms always tend to prefer candidates with prior law firm or at least professional services experience. But the on-going emphasis on industries/sectors rather than practice groups is pushing more firms to think creatively and look beyond the sector for BD and marketing professionals who can bring with them deep industry knowledge, together with new skills and capabilities.

With this comes a continuing trend to recruit more specialists into BD & marketing teams in law as firms compete to create truly multi-disciplined teams. New roles are proliferating in areas such as client relationship management, bids/pitch management, marketing operations, and technology and digital.

At the same time, and especially at more senior levels, law firms want BD and marketing professionals who can integrate their efforts into other business functions. Rather than distinct functions all working within their narrow remits, the vision is to develop a strong leadership team of business professionals who work together to meet business objectives.

Blurring the lines

 

Supporting this shift is the emergence of roles that blur the lines between traditionally quite distinct functions: innovation, communications and digital, process improvement and pricing all have touchpoints across several functions. Not only do specialists in those fields need to work closely with BD and marketing but it also typically requires the function to step out beyond traditional remits and share new responsibilities.

Today’s senior BD and marketing professionals play a key role, for example, in enabling the right kind of innovation, bringing to the table a keen understanding of changing economic and business forces and the firm’s objectives in regard to new and existing markets. So too do they provide a key link in the chain between developing internal pricing policies and pitching fee arrangements to clients. Indeed, while pricing specialists typically sit within the finance function, a few firms now choose to sit them within BD and marketing, recognising their close affinity in the commercial development of the firm.

These developments mean that BD and marketing in law requires both top-level strategic ability and the operational and tactical skills to implement real and lasting change. Persuasion and influencing skills remain critical for success, but so too is the operational ability to make change happen.

The BD and marketing team in law is an exciting and varied function, offering huge value to the legal profession at the same time as it offers candidates genuine opportunities to fulfil their career ambitions. Those firms that know how to make the most of this function’s huge potential are using it to transform legal business for the better.

 

Click here to see the article as it appeared in Centrum, PSMG's magazine

If you would be interested in receiving our full report, ‘BD and marketing: New roles, new horizons’, which includes a full UK-wide salary table, plus guidance on leadership of the BD and marketing function, please contact [email protected]

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