Strategic business development (BD) is critical to support firm growth and achieving individual objectives, but BD techniques are typically not taught in law school. At its core, BD is about building and proactively managing authentic professional relationships. Now more than ever, technology can help support and facilitate a more systematic approach to business development.
LexisNexis® InterAction® is teaming up with the Bunnell Idea Group (BIG) to deliver relevant and pointed guidance to InterAction users that will help them refine their tactics, strengthen core relationship-building and commercial capabilities, and make the most of their CRM data.
Today, I have the privilege of talking to Mo Bunnell, the founder of BIG and the person behind the development of their GrowBIG® technique.
What is the partnership between LexisNexis InterAction and BIG about?
I think our partnership with InterAction is about blending the best CRM technology with the best behavioral science practices. Let me explain with sports as an analogy: Recently, I got to interview Kelley O’Hara, the number-one defender on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. It was an amazingly insightful interview!
Kelley clearly wants to have the best in sports technology—the best soccer cleats in the world, high-tech conditioning and recovery tools, and expert training techniques—to prepare for global competitions such as the Olympics and World Cup.
But all of that doesn’t mean much if she doesn’t know what to do with it or how to use it. This is where behavioral science comes in and why it’s equally important. Kelley has to know what to focus on, what actions to take, and how to apply her sports technology in order to be one of the best athletes on the planet.
It’s the same when we think about LexisNexis InterAction and our training method, GrowBIG®. InterAction has some amazing technology that helps so many lawyers and business development professionals around the world stay organized, keep their tasks top of mind, keep all of their records safe, and make sure information stays up to date.
GrowBIG® takes all of that a step further and blends it with best practices so that BD professionals know how often they should reach out, the best ways to make contact, what will grow their relationships (from the customer’s point of view), how to grow their book of business, and actions that will advance their careers. We educate professionals with proven behavioral science techniques, then show them how to turn that education into actionable items.
When you combine data and behavioral science, you get a very, very powerful partnership—like the one we have with InterAction.
How can the InterAction and BIG partnership assist with challenges that firms face?
I think one of the biggest challenges that law firms encounter is being able to actually focus on business development. There are two reasons for that:
The first is that almost every force in a law firm (or really any professional services firm) pulls the experts away from BD. Billable hours take priority, special projects and committees take up time, working directly with clients takes effort, and so on. These forces pull people into short-term actions and away from longer-term efforts such as business development.
Which brings me to my second reason: behavioral science shows that people are drawn more to things that give immediate satisfaction. So, while those forces I previously mentioned draw us away or distract us from longer-term BD goals, we are also very willing to be pulled away. Think about how easy it is to pick up that smartphone and start scrolling Facebook, searching for that next hit of immediate gratification. We are surprised and delighted when a post from one of our preferred news sources pops up, or best friends and relatives acknowledge our online activity.
Business development is exactly the opposite. An hour can go into crafting the perfect email to send to a prospect. But there’s no immediate payoff: It could take months—or it could never happen at all. And this is why it’s so easy for experts to say “I’ll send that BD email tomorrow,” and instead answer a request from a colleague that will have a quick “Thank you so much!” coming back almost instantly. Another day, another BD task kicked down the road. Those little actions add up—day over day, week over week, and pretty soon, so much time has passed that they don’t feel comfortable reaching out to that contact at all.
InterAction helps you overcome the challenge of knowing who to focus on and why. We’ll help you overcome the challenge of staying focused by teaching the practical skills of outreach and how to keep follow-up top of mind, with techniques that keep you proactively engaged. Knowing where you stand in the process and having actionable items takes away the waiting-in-limbo feeling and helps keep lawyers and BD professionals focused throughout the business development timeline.
What do you want others to know about the BIG partnership with InterAction?
I think the biggest thing I want others to know is that this is a long-term partnership and that we are all in this together—InterAction, BIG, law firms, professional services firms, and BD professionals. This is a breakthrough for our industry, and, to my knowledge, has never been done before. We’re going to help firms grow bigger with three improvements right out of the gate:
- Embedded 30-second videos inside InterAction itself to coach users
- Training the amazing InterAction Client Advisors on the GrowBIG® methodology
- Providing complimentary training to InterAction users, including the business development professionals and the lawyers within the firm
We’re also putting together a steering committee of C-Level industry professionals to get feedback that we’ll use to continually improve our partnership and what we offer.
What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to business development?
The biggest misconception is that you’re either born with the talent to be successful at BD or you’re not. A lot of people encounter a pro with 10, 20, or 30 years of experience successfully executing BD strategies and think, “How am I ever supposed to do that?” But what they didn’t see is all the work that the business development pro put in over the years.
BD is one of those complex, broad ideas made up of hundreds of micro skills. It’s about proactiveness, helpfulness, how to ask questions, how to follow up, how to use insight and intuition, when to ask for the business or when to just be helpful, helping the right people and prioritizing them, developing content that draws people to you, overcoming objections, talking about money, then finally getting one deal and expanding from there.
There’s so much involved, it’s easy for younger people or those starting out in their career to think, “Man, I could never learn that. There’s no way I could do what ‘Sue’ does.” But the fact is, Sue worked hard and has crafted her strategies, her effectiveness, and increased her abilities over 10 or 15 years.
With GrowBIG®, we break all that down, and we can share that knowledge while coaching BD professionals. There’s a science to it: when the steps are decoded, we can typically give someone 10 years of expertise within 10 months of training and coaching. No one has to be born with it—how to execute business development strategies can be taught in a way that will feel authentic and helpful and make professionals successful.
What is something usually overlooked in business development?
There’s an interesting idea around the quality versus quantity of interactions. A lot of professionals get really hyper-focused on the quality of the interactions—that the content they’re sharing has 100% chance of being novel, insightful, and important to the recipient right now. But we shouldn’t underestimate or overlook the idea of the quantity of interactions.
There’s a science called the “mere-exposure effect”—that the more we see something, the more we develop a preference towards it. I believe this quantity element is every bit as important as quality. Several small outreaches can add up to a tremendous amount of feeling on the other side. These could be a quick text asking how the meeting went with their boss, an email letting them know about a webinar we’re leading, or sending them a book we think they might like. This might or might not be the “perfect” content for that moment, but it’s thoughtful, showing proactiveness and sending a strong “you are important to me” message to the client. No nagging here—we’re just going to be proactively helpful to the people that are most important to us. When you do that, it earns you license to reach out even more, and that is going to spell success over the long term. Quality matters for sure. But quantity is important too. It keeps you top of mind.
Is there a way for people to get your content at no charge?
Yes. We have a fantastic complimentary course on Business Development Habits that includes videos, downloadable tools, a how-to overview poster, and more. People love it! Not only can an individual sign up, but we’ll even host a 30-minute live video session for groups of 30 or more. Those really bring the learnings to life. It’s all at no charge and a great way to get started. People can sign up at BDhabits.com.
What’s something people may not know about you?
A lot of people think I’m really, really crazy process-oriented. But I’m really not. I love process, and I love systems. But they are actually a crutch for me, because I’m easily distracted. Look, there’s a squirrel! I go to great lengths to create systems around me to help streamline all aspects of my business and personal life. It makes things go faster; and since I’m not naturally rehearsing steps in my mind, I need these systems to help me be efficient and effective.
What’s your favorite movie or food?
I really like making craft cocktails, and it is so fun for me to share that with others. My favorite craft cocktail is one from a New York restaurant that I ended up reconstructing at home. It’s a smoky,
bourbon-y hot chocolate with a touch of mint. It’s so good, we call it “Because We Can.” I also love grilling out and cooking over an open fire. I have about 20 chili recipes, so on some weekends, you can catch me cooking chili outside. If it’s cold and we’re outdoors, my wife and I just might have a craft cocktail too, well, because we can.
Have a question or want to learn more? Reach out to your InterAction Account Manager or connect with us on Twitter @LexisNexisLegal or LinkedIn @LexisNexis Legal.
About Bunnell Idea Group
Started by Mo Bunnell, the Bunnell Idea Group (BIG) has helped over 15,000 organizations improve their business development with GrowBIG® training methods, consisting of proactiveness, being authentic, and being helpful. At the core of Bunnell Idea Group, we believe that BD skills can learned, with science and steps to guide us; BD can be loved, with proactive caring, abundance, and helpfulness at its core; and people that pair BD skills with a deep, core expertise will be the ones making the biggest difference in the world, be the most financially successful, and have the most fun doing it. Anyone can sign up for BIG’s powerful complimentary training on Business Development Habits at BDHabits.com.
About Mo Bunnell
Mo Bunnell, the founder of Bunnell Idea Group (BIG), has trained over 15,000 seller-experts at over 400 clients, all over the world. He helps complex organizations grow by scaling BD skills across their organizations and creating a growth-oriented culture. BIG’s clients have used Mo and his team’s GrowBIG® training to give their experts a system for growth that creates raving fans with a comprehensive business development framework, and is, dare we say, fun to use.