Image by Kalle Kortelatinen

2021 Review – Common BD & Marketing Challenges

Tom CaplingArticles Leave a Comment

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday Season.

As we all begin to focus on 2022 and finalising our business plans, I wanted to take a moment and share some insights that we were able to identify across professional services firms in 2021. The purpose is to highlight the most common business development and marketing challenges identified over the past 12 months and hopefully save many of you some time and effort in your planning process before getting too far ahead into 2022.


Business Development & Marketing goals are very consistent and aligned in supporting the firm to improve the experience of their clients, improve collaboration across the Practice Groups to better serve the client and ultimately grow the firm.

Common Challenges

Based on our conversations, the most common challenges identified over the past year included:

– Access to real time information

– Identify ‘who knows who’ and activity across the firm

– Data integrity

– Key client relationships – multiple people across the firm working with little visibility across their client contacts (i.e. no formal key client program)

– Better understanding of clients through segmentation (i.e. industry, region, etc.)

– Data missing from Practice Management System (titles, email, industry, etc.)

– Silos of information across the firm (financial system, spreadsheets, CRM, eDM, etc.)

– Different processes for trying to stay in touch with key referrers with no visibility from a firm-wide perspective

– Hiring experienced BD & Marketing resources in a very tight labour market

You are not alone

It’s worth noting that regardless of the size of a firm, most of these challenges were common across legal and accounting. What was different in many instances was the magnitude of these challenges based on the size of the firm (i.e. number of internal resources available, number of Practice Groups, number of offices, complexity of core applications, etc).

Many of you might be thinking ‘I already know this and this is nothing new’ but, how is this information going to reshape your thinking and planning for 2022? If these are typical challenges for many professional services BD & Marketing teams, what are the impacts to you and your team in supporting your firm’s business objectives going forward? It also might be refreshing to know that other firms are trying to address these challenges as well.

Common success criteria

With any challenge or problem, people are always able to clearly articulate what they want in order to help them become more efficient and strategic. So as part of this process, I wanted to share a consolidated list of ‘key success criteria’ captured for your reference:

– Quality contact data;

– Better visibility of the firm’s interaction with clients and target prospects

– Increase communications with key clients

– Improved collaboration / ease of managing client relationships across individuals

– Referrer management – better visibility of engagement across referrer network

– Expand new clients to increase revenue

– Ability to integrate with core applications (financial system, eDM, CRM, etc.)

– Must be easy to use

– Does not require lawyers/accountants to update

Staying focused

As tempting as it may be to try and achieve all these things at once, I would highly recommend that you don’t try to tackle everything on day one. Based on our experience and what we have seen across a range of firms, I would recommend focusing on 2 or 3 things initially that are going to have the biggest impact for you and your team around supporting the firm’s strategic priorities.

If I’ve missed anything critical or you have a different perspective on common challenges / key success criteria, please feel free to add to my list.

Stay safe and all the best for 2022.

Written by Tom Capling – Business Development Manager at Client Sense
Image by Kalle Kortelatinen

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