***Please enjoy this blog posted on behalf of the co-authors, Rachel Shields Williams, Director, Knowledge Management, Sidley Austin LLP and Erin Baxendale, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Clients and Industries, Sidley Austin LLP.
Knowledge Management (KM) and Business Development (BD)/Marketing are the wonder powers of a law firm. KM helps organize and maintain systems that track the firm’s experience with Clients, Matters, and People. BD/Marketing packages this experience in a variety of ways to help create awareness and win new business for the firm. Both groups leverage lawyer work product and relationships to help drive revenue and allow lawyers to do what they do best, which is to be amazing practitioners and business partners to their clients.
KM and BD/Marketing Go Together Like Peas and Carrots
Your BD and Marketing teams have access to a tremendous amount of information and are working hard to keep up with the myriad demands thrown at them each day. They’re creating custom responses to pitch and proposal submissions, developing marketing materials, website and social media content, reviewing market and competitive intelligence, and helping lawyers win business and delight clients. The more content that is created that they need access to, the more difficult it gets to find the right content at the right time. KM enhances efficiency and leads to faster, more productive decision-making by putting all of your firm’s information at your fingertips in one, central repository. The BD/Marketing team can then get the right information in front of the right people at the right time and create a better client experience. Together, both teams foster a culture of knowledge-sharing which allows for real-time collaboration.
When you pair the two together, you can use your firm’s knowledge to inform your BD and marketing strategies and provide better, more tailored, specific information to your clients to help solve their most pressing business and legal issues. In addition, this knowledge can help educate your BD/Marketing team on the firm’s platform and allows them to provide proactive support to their lawyers and the firm’s clients.
Pair Up and Be Better Together
There are countless ways KM and BD/Marketing can collaborate and bring even greater success to your firm. Below are a few examples to get you started.
Pitches and RFPs. Increase your chances for beating the competition. Identify relevant work product and teams for the pitch through quick and easy identification and capture in your KM system. This information can also be shared with your pricing team to create predictable financial profiles. Or finding relevant experience before a judge or arbitration to create a compelling pitch. KM can also help weigh in on questions such as efficiency, innovation, use of technology, and added value to the client.
Client Feedback. Sharing feedback with Knowledge Management can help identify technology-driven methods to help solve client issues. Or help the client solve operational issues that exist within their organization. By analyzing your data you can see key themes and trends across client profiles and use that information to inform solutions that clients need.
Expand Offerings. As the business and competitive landscape evolves, BD/Marketing can leverage KM to identify and pursue new areas of business derived from data analysis pulled from your KM system. Business issues can be identified through various matter profiles in your KM data by running keyword searches and setting up reporting to monitor for certain types of work in various sectors, regions, or client types. You can start to see those macro-level issues pop up across the firm and use that data to have intelligent conversations with your lawyers about what clients may be grappling with.
Third Party-Information. Your Knowledge Management team can help collect additional information on Judges and other third parties that can help shape strategy and responses.
Consider These Best Practices When Working Together
Shared definitions. Having a shared language around area of work, industry, and practice can help KM and BD/Marketing work more efficiently together and with your lawyers. Take time to create definitions around your work so that when you ask for information, no matter what team you’re on, you speak the same language and ask for it and share it with your lawyers in a consistent manner.
Seek to understand. Ask why behind the request and try to understand the goal of the project. Peel it back until all parties understand what it is you’re trying to achieve. Again, using shared definitions will help you here.
Be open and have a curious mindset. When people make a request or share an idea, explore it rather than think about the time or money involved with an idea. Start with “tell me more…”.
Relationship Building. Get to know your colleagues. Make time for virtual coffees or in person lunch. And understand their role at the firm and how they help the firm grow. Be interested!