Chasing the dream: Lack of focus hindering BD according to LexisNexis InterAction study

56% of marketing and BD leaders are responsible for firm growth planning and tracking – this is identified as a ‘key shift’ as marketing and BD heads play an increasingly strategic role 42% percent of survey respondents cited “cross-firm collaboration” as their top challenge 70% saying they expect to increase website and social media investments in 2020 Only 9% of law firms are using analytics to track business opportunities over their lifecycle

Law firms pursuing too many new business opportunities is adversely impacting their business development efforts, according to a study released today (16 December) by LexisNexis InterAction. This lack of focus and poor prospect targeting was among the top obstacles for business development success, along with a lack of follow-up and heavy competition.

As was the case during the last two years, only 49% of U.S. firms identified their business development efforts as successful, and 25% of firms in Europe and Asia Pacific cited their business development efforts as successful, based on findings from the 2019 Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Survey.

While Big Law marketing and business development professionals report significant improvement in their collaboration with other departments in their firms, cross-firm collaboration continues to be a challenge. 42% of survey respondents cited “cross-firm collaboration” as their top challenge, compared to 56% in 2018. Conversely, 52% of 2019 respondents now rate their collaboration across the firm as “successful.”

Practice groups and firm leadership top the list of departments that marketing and business development collaborate with most, but collaboration with the IT department is increasing as many firms deploy more digital marketing technologies to drive success and the majority of prospective clients (66%) request information on the firm’s technology. Looking ahead, respondents indicate they plan to prioritise digital initiatives, with 70% saying they expect to increase website and social media investments in 2020.

“As technology continues to support marketing and business development initiatives and reporting capabilities, IT is becoming a strategic partner for helping drive growth among top law firms,” said Meghan Frank, Global Director of Marketing, LexisNexis Legal & Professional Software Solutions. “Improved technology integration combined with actionable data greatly enrich client engagement and can help firms grow new business development opportunities.” 

Other key findings of the study include the following:

In addition to cross-firm collaboration, top challenges for marketing and business departments include handling client growth and deepening current client relationships. European/Asian firms report that the lack of a key account management structure is negatively impacting client retention.1 in 5 firms expect major changes to marketing and business development investment in 2020, and 38% expect spend to increase, which will likely increase the need for collaboration.Very few law firms (9%) are using analytics to track business opportunities over their lifecycle, missing key indicators of success.

“While most firms are using technology to maintain client data, many are still not using it to create the insights needed to drive better decisions, improve client service and create focused firm growth strategies,” said Scott Wallingford, VP and general manager of LexisNexis Software Solutions.

“Leveraging client data will help overcome these challenges, providing critical insights to focus business development planning efforts and ultimately achieve improved client service and firm growth.”

The Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Survey was conducted between August and October 2019. A total of 103 legal marketing and business development leaders and C-suite executives across the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific were surveyed, including 40 Am Law 100 chief marketing officers and chief business development officers. The majority of respondents represent established firms that maintain several offices and have over $500 million in annual revenue.

The full Legal Marketing & Business Development Survey is available for download here .