Research: Planning and Managing Business Development

The PACE Partners have learnt that professional services firms have achieved significant benefits by improving the way they plan and manage their business development efforts. Improved processes and ways of working have led to increased fee income, new and bigger clients, better reputations and stronger client relationships.

However, the survey which counted participants from firms including Accountancy, Engineering, Law and Property still found only two thirds of those fee earners who should be involved in business development are actually involved and only one third are rated as “good” to “excellent” in this part of their role.  There is still a long way to go.

Firms with a combined annual fee income of over £17bn took part in research carried out by The PACE Partners LLP, the business development consultancy that specialises in professional services firms.  The findings from this research, in addition to the above have been compiled in a report and include the following:


  • There was a wide variation in performance between firms – total scores achieved by respondents in a ‘performance index’ ranged from 7/96 to 86/96!;
  • Law firms performed markedly less well than their counterparts in other disciplines;
  • The key barriers to implementing new processes and ways of managing business development were the individuality of partners and their unwillingness to change, the complex nature of multi-practice firms and a lack of strong leadership;
  • Almost all of the ‘secrets of success’ in making the changes required were about LEADERSHIP – leadership of the firm as a whole, of individual fee earners, of the change process and of the Business Development/Marketing team.
  • The strongest performances came in the management of key client relationships, the weakest in the processes needed to allow fee earners to achieve a balance between “client work now” and “investment efforts for the future”.

The survey concluded that the importance of good planning and management in this area is unquestioned, the performance is strong in some areas, weak in others and the barriers to success (and the ways of overcoming those barriers) are common to all disciplines and most professional services firms.

 Click here for a digest of the report

Paul Denvir, author of the report and founding Partner of PACE can be contacted for interview on the results by arrangement. Contact Wendy Fountain on +44 (0)1932 260062.