Lori Langholz & Danielle Eisenach, BDO USA LLP
When business development and marketing work in tandem, their efforts complement one another for the mutual benefit of clients and prospects, which in turn helps drive firm growth. This is easier said than done. Alignment requires commitment and investment from all parties.
So how do you achieve alignment of these departments? It takes a coordinated effort and conversation to, first and foremost, ensure everyone has the same vision for how growth will be obtained. From there, everyone has to understand what implementation will look like.
A ‘road map’ is the tool used at BDO USA LLP’s (BDO) local offices to achieve alignment between marketing, business development, human resources, and the service-line professionals in a given market. This tool gives structure to a series of meetings where professionals from each discipline come together to discuss the industries and services that will be the primary focus for the upcoming fiscal year as well as the next three years. In addition, milestones are set and resource needs are documented. Once agreed upon, an action plan is created for the next fiscal year with goals and accountability assignments.
This process clarifies for all involved the office’s area of focus. Specific targets are identified within industries in the market. New and existing services are discussed, and the parties look for opportunities for growth amongst existing clients and potential new clients. Strengths and opportunities comparative to competitors also are discussed.
Knowing where your firm (or office if you are a multi-office firm) stands gives focus for marketing and business development to highlight their individual strengths.
Once you know where you want to go and how you will get there, you have to ensure everyone understands the role they will play in the process. Both marketing and business development are interdependent elements of the plan. The following highlights those roles:
- Marketing – Marketing is the support structure upon which growth is based. They create the content, the events, and the campaigns that make sales people look like rock stars. Their role in proposals also can significantly influence buying decisions.
- Business Development – Business developers focus on relationships. They develop and build them with the right people so the firm can be of service at the right time. They also have the market and industry knowledge that is vital to keeping marketing relevant.
- Service Line Professionals – The professionals delivering the firm’s services are relied upon to provide technical knowledge and exceptional client service. They also are responsible for ensuring the firm meets client needs and exceeds expectations. They are the “eyes and ears” for marketing and business development and the front line to delivering client satisfaction.
By taking time to discuss roles, all parties agree on the focus for the coming year and know how best to support each other. This translates into more efficient and cost-effective marketing and business development efforts.
It is important to note that many people consider growth planning an annual process; however, it should be the basis for year-round, ongoing discussions. This communication between all parties is critical to continued success and growth. Rather than put together an annual plan, work toward creating a structure for ongoing discussion of successes and challenges. It should help drive desired behaviors and should be constantly updated and changed to mirror market conditions.
The synergy between marketing and business development will drive your plan, but it also is what will ensure you are taking advantage of opportunities that will contribute to firm growth.