Business development
for professionals

Establishing BD function for an international firm

Project: Establishing the BD function for the Paris office of an international firm 
 
March - Sept 2013
 

The need:

This Paris office of an international law firm had grown to the extent that it needed on-the-ground BD support, instead of continuing to rely on resources from head office. However, the firm’s International Business Development and Marketing Director faced a number of challenges. First, she needed to persuade the Paris partners of the value that having a professional BD person on the ground could bring; second, she needed someone to not only build the BD infrastructure for the office, but also manage the day-to-day BD operations; and third, she needed to find someone who understood both the French and international markets, and was fluent in English and French.

What we did:

The BD Consultancy was able to fulfil this need by proposing support from their Paris-based consultant, Sheena Sarkar. Sheena had been based in Paris for 10 years, and had previously worked in-house at leading international law firms in senior business development roles. Not only did she know the French market well, she also understood the cultural differences between that market and others, and was experienced in working on cross-border as well as local market initiatives. Sheena was also fluent in both English and French.

Sheena joined the firm on a three days per week basis for a six month period. During this time, she was able to build the BD and marketing infrastructure for the office, tap in to the resources and initiatives being led by other offices in the firm’s network, and professionalise the day-to-day BD operations for the office. Most importantly, her task was to show the office’s partners the added value that an experienced BD person could provide, with the aim of the office then hiring a permanent person into the function. Some of the things Sheena did to achieve this include: drafting and implementing Paris-focused business plans for two of the firm’s key sectors, technology and life sciences; drafting marketing materials for the office in both English and French; training lawyers on widening their network and profile using LinkedIn and other social media; cleaning up the office’s contacts database; and professionalising the pitch process, both in terms of content and look and feel.

The outcome:

Four months in to Sheena’s contract, the Paris partners signed-off on a permanent hire. Sheena took charge of recruiting a Business Development Executive for the office, and trained that person to take over the function before she left. The office has since grown from strength to strength.