The impact of the pandemic has caused some professional services firms to abandon their long-term planning, opting to instead focus on the everchanging day-to-day. This has been paralleled in our personal lives too; weekly meal plans for the supermarket shop have been the limit of future preparations.
Yet, as we begin to emerge from survival mode, it is time to start asking “what’s next?”. The capacity to create long-term business development strategies is coming back, so it is important to start identifying the next steps for your firm.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to planning. From our experience, we’ve found that each of our clients has a unique approach to the coming months. Some firms are looking to get back to their pre-Covid ways as quickly as possible (including in-person meetings, fully staffed offices, and no more video calls). Others, however, have welcomed this new hybrid world, with some firms disposing of (or at least reducing) office spaces in response to a push towards working from home.
When creating a future BD plan, the main challenge is representing how your firm wishes to grow and expand in a post-pandemic climate, while also accommodating your current and future clients’ preferences. There’s no point planning a huge, costly, in-person networking conference if your clients aren’t comfortable meeting in this way.
A Hybrid Approach
A hybrid approach is key. The virus has helped test professional services firms’ ability to be dynamic and pragmatic in the way they operate. While survival mode is becoming a thing of the past, being adaptable in future planning is crucial. Rather than being tied to norms of the past, we now have an opportunity to revolutionise into a hybrid setting.
For example, KPMG has announced their plans to reskill and upskill their teams as part of their post-Covid BD plan. Sometimes it takes a global disaster to demonstrate the knowledge and training that staff and management need to work on. KPMG is paying closer attention to scenario planning, ensuring everyone in the company is prepared to adapt to any situation.
It is also important not to completely reject the digital platforms that we relied so heavily upon during lockdown. The prospect of continuing to use video conferencing software may fill you with dread, but these digital platforms will continue to play a key role in any firms’ hybrid model. Video conferencing tools will help open the doors for engaging with new clients across the region, country, and world. Some reports have shown that it is easier to initiate a first conversation with a prospect via video call than in-person, as there is less pressure and effort going into the interaction. Project management tools will also be helpful to connect teams remotely, allowing for flexi-working with minimal disruption.
In legal practices, depositions were often virtual even before Covid, however, Law.com explains that the nature of these sessions transformed significantly when the pandemic hit. They concluded that virtual depositions were the way forward, requesting that a specific software be created to “address some of the current shortcomings.” Clearly, adopting technology is essential in the next step of BD, while ensuring to adapt our usage to fit a post-Covid setting.
When you begin to ask “what’s next?”, speak to your colleagues as well as your clients to ensure your strategy is adapted to the unique nature of your firm and your world.