BY Michael Fleming

DATE: 06 MAY 2020


Nothing’s changed: BD is still BD!

The core components of BD remain the same. Nothing has changed. It’s about: Networking, Relationship Building, Selling & Pitching. Making time for it and getting more organised.

What has Changed?

Well, OK, so in some respects the world has changed and that affects BD. What are your issues, concerns and challenges?

There are Great Opportunities in the Virtual Business World

Huge opportunities for more personal contact – Zoom etc. You have an excuse – how are you?  “Intimacy” – you meet people in their homes.  You sometimes meet their partners, children, pets etc

Make Time for BD

You’ve just gained all the time you used to spend every day on that horrible commute! Use it for Business Development

Do some Business Development first thing in the morning, before you start on client work

Get Business Development to become a daily habit

Top Tips for BD in the Virtual Business World

Revisit Your Business Plan

Revisit your business plan: who should you be targeting now?
The needs of some sectors, industries and clients will have changed a lot
Where are you best placed to offer your services?
What new services should you be developing – fast!
Any specific campaigns you should be arranging and championing?

Get Organised: Sort out Your Contacts List

Great time to sort out your list of contacts and clients
Categorise them. Grade them. Set actions against various streams
Look at the list. Every day. Keep it somewhere conspicuous
Learn how to use that fancy CRM system!
LinkedIn: work through your contacts – who haven’t you been in touch with

Reach Out: Get in Touch

You certainly don’t need to struggle any more to think up reasons to get in touch with your contacts and clients!
Emails them. Call them. Message them on LinkedIn
Ask for virtual face time: Zoom, WebEx, FaceTime, WhatsApp – whatever!

Be Genuinely Interested & Empathetic

If ever there was a time to be sure you really listen to clients, this is it
What are their issues, challenges, concerns, fears?
Make sure that you really listen: with the intention of understanding, not responding
And make sure they feel that you actually do care about what they’re telling you

Get Up Close & Personal: Emotional Connection

Remember the power of (appropriate!) self-disclosure: tell people some things about you and your life and they’ll likely tell you about themselves and their life
Listen and look out for clues about personal things to ask and talk about
How many partners, children, flatmates have you seen wandering into the background of your Zoom meetings? Ask about them. Say hello!

Be Interesting & Relevant: Have Stuff to Ask and to Talk About

What new issues are emerging as a result of the present situation?
What might they we interested in?
What are others in their sector/industry talking about?

Create Collateral

Write those articles and blogs
Organise virtual seminars and workshops
Create great bespoke  training sessions and offer them to contacts and clients

Hone Your Pitch

Revise your existing key pitch messages
What would make your offering more compelling now?
Do you need to create any new pitch documents?

Social Media

If you’re not already a social media ninja then get it sorted!
LinkedIn: make sure you’re connected to everyone you should be; follow people; comment and share stuff; join groups; start your own
Twitter: give it a go – you’ve got 280 characters to play with (but the average tweet is only 33 seconds long)
Instagram: here’s a chance for all you budding David Baileys
YouTube: record some content and get it up there
What do you need to mug up on?
Create a list of possible areas to explore and ask questions around

Suppress Self-Interest: Be in it for the Long Term

This may not be the right time to sell them anything
They may not need your help
Get and keep in touch anyway
Suppress self-interest – show you’re in it for the long-term, not just for immediate gain

How Could You Help Them?

What could you offer that would be genuinely useful and beneficial to them?
How might you be able to help them at the moment?
What could you send them, tell them, show them?
Who could you connect them to?

Know Your Wider Firm Offering

Read the stuff your colleagues in other service lines are writing about
Know the areas where clients are needing help now, even if it’s not your personal area of practice and expertise
Be alive to the potential cross-sell opportunities


Here’s something useful...

Your newsletters, e-mail bulletins etc. Add a personal note pointing out an article that you thought would be relevant to them
Articles (yours, colleagues, others) that would be interesting & relevant to them - work and non-work
Slides from a talk: (assuming OK to do – copyright etc.) that you thought might be useful for them
Information you picked up at an event/seminar that would be helpful to them
Links to useful websites – work and non-work

How could you help them?

 Awards: ask if it’s OK to put their name forward for an award in their field
Details of a useful contact for them

Saw this and thought of you...

Job opportunities for them: to let them know about a potential job they might be interested in (have to be very sure this is appropriate given the nature of your relationship with their business/organisation)
Call or write to comment on something about them/their organisation in the press
Comment on a trade publication article they’ve written or in which they’ve been quoted

Thought you should know...

Let them know about a potential business opportunity that you’ve spotted/thought/heard about for them/their organisation
Let them know about changes in the law/technical issues etc. that affect them or their business

How are you?  Show you care 

Call them up just for a chat because you haven’t spoken for a while
Ask for a virtual coffee to talk about mutual interests or just because you enjoy their company (tell them that)

How could they help you?  Flattery if used carefully.

Ask them to speak at your virtual conference
Research: ask for their input on your benchmarking research and ask to meet to share the results with them afterwards
Would they test out your new service/offering/product and give you their feedback?
What do they think about your draft new marketing brochure?
Could they suggest some good online groups to join in order to meet more people likely be interested in what you have to offer
Could they introduce you to a business contact of theirs
Awards (you/your firm): would they support/vote for some award you are seeking


Congratulations on their recent promotion which you spotted on LinkedIn, in the press etc.
Congratulations on your special birthday, new baby etc.

Social Media: this is the Twenty First Century

LinkedIn: to ask them to Connect/offer and ask for Recommendations/ Introductions
Twitter: comment on one of their tweets; re-tweet something useful they put out there

Fancy coming?  Event Invites

There are plenty of groups running webinars and virtual live events on Zoom and WebEx etc

Interests: yours/ theirs/ shared 

To share something you did or saw and thought might interest them personally: it could be anything – a good book, a film/play, art exhibition etc.