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As many of you have been experiencing over the last year or two, there are a lot of mergers going on! In the legal field especially, but also in other professional services and in the wider business world. Whatever the strategic reasons for them, there are some immediate things which the marketing and BD teams can help with. I am not, here, going to include the ‘people’ side of things. This is not to underestimate it; there are all sorts of challenges here to resolve. It is a big topic though, so my thoughts here will concentrate on some of the operational and strategic priorities, on a few of which the success and benefits of a merger can depend. From my experience of three mergers: read more


I remember hearing this years ago on a training course, and it stuck with me as a truism.  Now that I’m involved in business development, it strikes me as being even more relevant.

Last night I went to a networking event which happened to be debating the case for Scottish independence, and I took my 17 year old daughter along.   Of course the content of the debate was interesting, but really I wanted her to start to experience how business people communicate. read more

Getting into the right mindset

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

“Doing business without doing marketing and sales is like winking at someone in the dark.  You know you’re doing it, but no-one else does.”

It can be frustrating, can’t it, to find you’ve spent years studying for professional qualifications, then providing expert advice, only to be told that now you need to do sales.

We have asked lots of professionals over the years what they think of selling.  There are some who love it but in the main they find it, at best, intimidating or, at worst, rather grubby and beneath them.   This is often because selling is associated with lack of substance, manipulation or the need to be an outgoing, ‘patter merchant’.  However, selling need never be like that in the professional services world.  In fact, behaving like what we might regard as a ‘typical’ salesperson is likely to be counter-productive in a world where we typically want to build trust-based, long-term relationships with our clients.   Our experience at PACE tells us that building business is less about ‘selling’ to others and more about motivating others to buy. read more

Most professionals are expected to be business developers as well as experts in their chosen field.  So what does that mean on a day-to-day basis?  How can you be confident of future fee income even when the bulk of your time is taken up delivering existing client work, leaving very little left for proactive business development? read more

I recently conducted some research amongst some clients and contacts regarding the barriers they faced around cross-selling.  My research uncovered these firms faced three main challenges: mutual trust (or lack of) in their colleagues’ capabilities, the feeling of losing control and the client’s image of the firm.  But what can you do to overcome these barriers? read more


That’s Too Expensive

Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 09:01 PM

From our research here at PACE and by talking with professionals all over the world, we know that fees/margin/profit (which all mean money) is being left on the table in almost all work instructions agreed between provider and client.

It’s true that when business conditions worsen the tendency to crumble increases when price is challenged and to some extent the opposite is also true. read more

Try a mystery shop for yourself

Thursday, January 16, 2014 @ 05:01 PM

How would your firm fare in a mystery shopping exercise?   It might seem like something done in retail outlets or visitor attractions, but I recently became a mystery shopper for a legal client and the results were interesting.

Most firms would claim to be ‘client-focused’,  ‘professional’ or ‘friendly’, but in fact the client experience can be something different.   More importantly, I suggest that many firms are losing out on sales opportunities simply by not thinking about each and every touch-point with a potential or existing client. read more

Christmas socialising the relaxing way

Friday, December 20, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

Do you relax and enjoy all the socialising that goes with the Festive season?  Or do you find, like some people, all the enforced jollity all a bit tiresome?  I know I love chatting to new people and indulging in what some people might call ‘small talk’.  My husband, however, while he can do it, would much rather avoid such situations.

It’s probably fair to say that there is every shade of preference for it among the professionals we work with at PACE.    During the business year, we might call this ‘networking’ – a word that can send shivers down the most knowledgeable of spines.  It smacks of ‘small talk’, forced and artificial conversations and, heaven forbid, SELLING! Can you imagine the horror of talking to someone in any sort of setting that just wants to sell something to you?  It does happen, and in fact, I once know someone who wanted to leave her company leaflets lying about at a house party I was hosting.  We don’t see each other anymore! read more


A cross-selling case study

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 @ 07:11 PM

So often well intentioned attempts to cross-sell fail because they are executed incorrectly. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to give two examples. Scenario 1 represents what we often hear when we ask professionals to recount a cross-selling attempt that seemed to fall on stony ground.

Scenario 1

Partner: I understand that one of the initiatives on the horizon is to appoint a consultancy to help you create a more sophisticated client management system for your organisation? read more