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Driving and Defending Revenue Part Three: Resourcing

Updated: May 16, 2021

The strategy is sound and understood. The focus and accountabilities are agreed, so why aren’t you yielding the expected results?

Professional service firms, to a greater or lesser degree, all manage a complex career progression from technical expert, to team manager, to sales person/account manager, often while retaining subject matter expertise. In most cases, fee earners are supported and advised by BD experts, but achieving the level of resource and the blend of fee earner and BD professional is complex – as typically the BD expert needs to step aside. Your organisation might be awash with commercially savvy consultants, or at the other extreme be staffed by a team who have not had commercial or private sector roles before. Understanding that balance is critical.

One means of assessing areas of improvement is to conduct a gap analysis of the BD resource across the firm. A fully formed BD and Marketing function contains a broad mix of skills and personality types. As the list below hopefully highlights (with apologies to areas I’ve missed), there is a lot to cover in order to grow your audience, reduce inefficiency and increase profits:

  1. Strategists to set direction and focus

  2. Subject experts to demonstrate credibility and deliver excellence

  3. Lead generators to create opportunities

  4. Closers to ask for the work and negotiate terms

  5. Client managers to spot the next opportunity and intercept any current concerns

  6. Content creators to generate insight that raises and maintains awareness.

  7. CRM & marketing system experts to analyse data, manage contacts and grow the addressable universe

  8. Sector specialists to reinforce understanding of sectors and geographies.

  9. Implementers and project managers to ensure projects, campaigns and strategies are delivered on time and budget

  10. Researchers and analysts to conduct business intelligence to improve understanding of where the market is going and what competitors and other key stakeholders are doing.

  11. Pitch and proposal managers to improve efficiency, increase hit rate, raise margins and drive improvements at various stages of the pipeline

  12. Managers to oversee external advisors and NEDs accessing their network on your behalf

  13. Digital experts to produce content and build engagement

  14. PR and communications team to mould and promote key themes, engage with related bodies and media, and manage any reputational challenges.

Not even the largest PS firms have specialist resource for each area, with experts overlapping and segueing across the various themes. If you are not getting the anticipated returns, map your own efforts against a similar list asking:

  1. Are we doing this?

  2. If not, why not?

  3. If we are, who is responsible for execution?

  4. How much time is spent on it?

The results can be quite illuminating and often highlight various areas that can be tweaked to generate more return for relatively little effort and expense. For instance you might find:

  • Role definitions between fee earners and BD staff are unclear

  • Outreach levels are low

  • New contacts aren’t being added to your mailing list

  • The team are targeting contacts who are unlikely to hire the firm

  • Feedback on proposal losses is not being acted on

  • Clients are not being followed up (“they’ll call when they need to”)

  • Recent great projects are not being added to case studies

  • You have been losing market share in sector/service X to firms that have upped their game

All of the above are eminently fixable once identified and will often directly improve top line. Across BD, as long as the work is delivered to a standard where the client returns and/or recommends you to others, all of the various elements above can be improved through better execution and resourcing.

Where there are resource or skills gaps identified, you have three options: Train, outsource or recruit. My key takeaways on the pros and cons of each are:

  • Train: There are some fantastic coaches around who can enhance, in particular, fee earner understanding of the role of BD and how best to implement. This works well at the senior level and at the critical crossover level as associates approach partnership/MD - focusing on client management, commercial awareness and carving out a niche. Training can also work well in terms of stretching job roles where budgets are limited. Research, analysis, contact management, content generation, populating databases and similar can all be executed by non-BD specialists across less utilised fee earners and operational staff with adequate training.

  • Outsource: Consider using external resources to plug some of the gaps or assist with improvements. External consultants are especially useful when, you need an external view to assess improvements, you have specific short term areas that need resourcing, or the skills don’t exist inhouse.

  • Recruit: where there are larger or more strategic gaps, you need to recruit. Long term, these are skills that are nurtured and honed, and it might be better to recruit them in rather than train them up. Specialist PS recruiter support will better understand your current concerns and be able to quickly assess the suitability of candidates across expertise and cultural fit.

So are you ready?, the short to medium terms appears challenging for many firms. However the impact can be mitigated by: adjusting your strategy to fit the new reality, arming your team with excellent content, resourcing plans adequately and then relentless execution and feedback.

If you have any queries, please contact me at:, I would be pleased to hear from you.

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