Up until 2007 and 2008, it was raining clients in professional services firms like public accounting and legal firms. Then with the great recession of 2008, everything changed. All of a sudden we were seeing layoffs in law firms – something that was completely unheard of in the past. Law students were suing their universities because they couldn’t find work.
In 2009, I read an article in the ABA Journal about renowned Washington, DC trial lawyer Mark Levy. Levy was someone who would take the big, well-known cases that would make a name for him and his firm, but wouldn’t necessarily make a lot of money. When the firm made cuts to deal with the economic recession, Levy’s name was on the list. A few days later, he came into work and put a gun to his head.
“Levy loved the practice of law, but he struggled with the business of law. Without a firm stable of paying clients, he grew vulnerable in a world where rainmaking is often valued over skill and judgment.” – Richard B. Schmitt, “A Death in the Office,” ABA Journal
The leadership of legal firms like Levy’s had begun experiencing enormous pressure. Clients were choosing smaller firms – with lower overhead, these firms could do similar work for less money. This anxiety trickled down to all levels.
In the CPA firms, as well, the economic change started a huge turnaround that we’re still seeing today. In fact, a recent 2011 study of the top issues and challenges facing CPA firms today revealed that the top three concerns are:
1. Partner accountability
2. Getting new clients
3. Keeping existing clients
Before the recession, it was raining clients in the CPA firms as well – to the point where there was actually a shortage of qualified CPAs. They had more business than they could handle, and were farming out some of their work to contractors or smaller firms. Much of this business came from doing more work for existing clients, rather than gaining any new clients.
Now things have turned 180 degrees. It’s not raining clients anymore here either. CPA firms must constantly be on their toes and bringing in new business. More and more, firms are tying compensation into business development results, creating pressure at all levels.
At the heart of the problem in all professional services firms is this dynamic: Leaders (managing partners, senior partner group) are telling their people to go out and drum up new business. “We did it, why can’t you do it?” Meanwhile, anyone who came into the firm before this change has rarely had to go to market, so they lacked these business development skills. Even when firms have brought in sales training, those off-the-shelf programs never seem to fit these accountants, lawyers and other financial professionals.
Leaders of the firms and/or the managing partner and partner group of the firms, on the other hand, had little or no experience in holding people accountable for business results. When it was raining clients, there was no need to develop the coaching and accountability skills to be able to transfer their natural business development strategies to the rest of the firm. These managing partners and other rainmakers have always just done it themselves, and that was enough – but it’s not enough anymore.
Everyone is like a fish out of water and no one is getting what they need.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
That’s exactly why I developed my program, Get More Clients NOW and Forever™, which provides:
1) A structure for new business development that is essential for the rookie developers, and helpful to everyone else as well – specially designed for accountants, lawyers and other financial services professionals
2) A firm-wide mentality that makes business development a priority and prevents financial loss during recessions
3) Accountability principles that can be applied to productivity as well as new business development, leading to increased sales, decreased costs and increased profitability.
Click here to learn more about the Get More Clients NOW and Forever™ program.