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business developmentDo you want to make more money than you did in 2015? Now is the time to put solid plans into place that will increase your chances of success. After the holiday madness calms down, consider using these 4 time-tested rainmaking tips to ramp up your business development so you can build a bigger book in 2016.

1. Reach Out to Former Clients and Referral Sources.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. While it may be uncomfortable at first, the benefits (and potential profits) far outweigh the anxiety factor. Start with a phone call. Begin the conversation by saying, “I was thinking about you and wondered how you were doing.” Then, listen and let your contact respond. Nearly everyone who receives a call like this will be flattered.

Next, think of conversation starters that add value. Look for the latest news articles on the companies or industries your clients belong to and then call. Or, send the article ahead of time and discuss it during the call.

Lastly, examine your motives before you reconnect – especially if you haven’t talked to the person in more than a year. If you are genuinely curious about how your client or prospect is doing – then go ahead, reach out and reconnect! If your ulterior motive is only to get more business, don’t make the call. Making a pitch for more business, or even hinting that you are calling for that reason, will lower your credibility immediately with your former client. People easily spot bald-faced opportunism.

2. Get Serious about Referrals.

There are no If’s, and’s, or but’s about it – the most likely sources of new business, other than former and existing clients, are referrals. That means, keeping your relationships with referral sources vibrant and fresh is crucial.

  • Make contact with sources at least once a quarter. Send an email, letter, or pick up the phone. Be sure to tell your sources about some recent cases and issues you’ve had to confront that produced good results.
  • Identify sources you’ve lost touch with. List your key referral sources over the past several years and determine whom you haven’t heard from recently. Make a point to reconnect with them by meeting for coffee.
  • Teach your sources to listen on your behalf. Think of the things your referral sources may hear potential clients say that indicate the need for legal services. You could even alert your source to certain comments that may serve as cues for a referral opportunities.
  • Think about business you can refer to THEM. Don’t forget, referrals should be reciprocal. Think of potential clients that your referral sources would like to meet and and make the introductions. Referral sources will dry up without reciprocity.

3. Follow Up!

It is so important to follow up after every meeting with a prospect, regular client, or referral source. Failing to do so is, perhaps, the biggest business development mistake you can make. Contact has to be made repeatedly in order to land new business. Research shows that 80% of all sales are made after the fifth contact. That means that only 20% of all sales are made with fewer than five contacts!

4. Be Visible and Memorable.

Successful rainmakers keep their visibility high within their networks and consistently bring value to contacts by emailing legal updates, passing along industry news of interest to their connections, being active on LinkedIn, and lining up speaking engagements in front of their ideal clients and referral sources. Ambitious rainmakers want to be top of mind when their connections have legal needs that require assistance.

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