Now that you’ve written your first draft of your memo, you’re more than half way to the finish line. It might be tempting to end the process here and be done with it. Understandable. To ensure that your memo has optimal impact, however, we suggest getting feedback from at least one, if not more sources. Business development can often feel like a lonely journey so why not invite others into your process? This will maximize support and ensure that you’ve approached your memo, both looking back to last year and ahead to the coming year, from as many angles as possible.
Here are some suggested feedback sources:
Practice Group Leader:
In an ideal world, your practice group has a business plan that is informed by the firm’s strategic plan and focused on both industry and practice nuance. Even if it is not formal or memorialized, it may be in your PGL’s head. To the extent that a plan exists, it would be smart to know and get feedback on how your plan may or may not align with the priorities of your group. Having that information can help you highlight or play up the aspects of your plan that support your practice group’s initiatives. It can also help you call attention to other areas that may not be on management’s radar screen which demonstrates that you are both thinking ahead and out-of-the-box. Again, this is an exercise in getting credit not only for what you are “doing” but for what you are “thinking” as well. To the extent a practice plan doesn’t exist, meeting with your practice group leader will show initiative, illustrate that you are a strategic business development thinker and might give you the opportunity to be involved in the group’s overall planning.
Partner(s) You Work Most Closely With:
If a lot of what is in your plan is a joint effort with a partner you do a significant amount of work with, it would be helpful to make sure that you are on the same page. They may also be able to help you answer the earlier questions we asked in Phase Three like “what’s missing?” and “where are you downplaying?” Also, to the extent there is anything negative with respect to your financial performance from the previous year or boxes that did not get checked, they can help you craft a constructive response.
Key Cross-Selling and Referral Contacts:
Particularly if your firm places a high emphasis on cross-selling, getting feedback from those whom you are incorporating into your plan can help to tighten up your personal strategy. You can confirm that you are aligned and that you have brainstormed all of the possible ways you might work together to cross-sell. You can also each draft your plans from a strategic vantage point that will convey a joint effort.
Someone Who’s BD Efforts You Really Admire:
Do you have a colleague who is on fire when it comes to BD? Do they regularly seem to be happy around partner comp season? Why not borrow a page from their book and get their insight? Find out what they might be doing that you are not and how you might apply it to your practice.
Senior Associate You’re Grooming for Partner:
This may not be appropriate at every firm – particularly if there are policies (written or unwritten) against sharing the format of the memo. If this is not an issue, there is a lot to be gained by getting some upward feedback. Your senior associates might have interesting insights based on who they are interacting with on the client side. They too can help highlight things you are missing or downplaying (sometimes they have better memories) as well as providing comments on clarity, etc. Not to mention, it can be an unbelievable mentoring moment that can take them behind the curtain of what it’s like to be a partner (always helpful but not always accessible to those in the pipeline who are serious about making partner). It also shows that you trust their opinion; gets them really thinking about BD; and may even inspire them to do their own plan which can help you support them in crossing the finish line.
Depending on how your marketing/business development department is structured and particularly if there is one or more staff assigned to your specific department it can be a smart play to run your plan by an internal professional. First, they may have helpful intel to weave into your plan. They may be able to do research for you to help bolster certain points. And because they may be reviewing other plans, they can give you a basis of comparison and help you to brainstorm. They can also be a safe and helpful resource for typos and editing. We have reviewed a lot of plans with typos, missing words, and sometimes incomplete thoughts. Chances of this are especially high if you’ve left it to the last minute and are in a rush. Sloppiness can detract from the overall effectiveness of your submission. Marketing professionals build and edit content in this space all the time so they are incredibly well suited to give you a helpful perspective.
Getting feedback on your plan definitely requires additional effort but incorporating these different perspectives can be a powerful step in ensuring your plan is as comprehensive and impactful as possible. It may also help inspire, energize and even excite you about your plan for the year ahead.
Happy feedback gathering.