Only 50% of legal professionals make time for business development according to a recent survey.

The survey of more than 600 UK wide senior legal professionals was undertaken  by Business Development & Pitching training firm, Kissing with Confidence. It revealed that respondents were happy to get involved with selling their firm’s services to customers, but 50 per cent agreed to conversing with contacts without asking for the business, and 67 per cent confessed to discussing their own firm rather than listening to the needs of potential clients.

Half of respondents felt they didn’t have enough to say to make them sound interesting when talking to prospects and 67 per cent of people get impatient and expect to convert contacts to clients quicker. Just half of those surveyed were willing to ask for a face-to-face meeting with contacts and only half would ask for work when the time is right.

Michael Fleming, Training Director with Kissing with Confidence, and a former law firm equity partner, said: “Despite being a crucial business function, honing business development skills still remains surprisingly low down on lawyers’ agenda. And we still need to address the fundamental challenge that law firms prioritise and reward chargeable time and utilisation yet expect their lawyers to be doing more and more business development activity too.

“Many professionals admitted to feeling the pressure of balancing the client’s best interest with generating fees and a surprising number of confident people admit to suffering from imposter syndrome. Nobody likes dealing with rejection, but accepting that business development is a numbers game makes it easier to compartmentalise.”

Respondents spent on average 24 hours a month working on business development with networking top of the list for preferred activity followed by lunches and coffees and letters and emails, with only 9 per cent willing to pick up the phone.

Fleming added: “In a digital world it is no surprise that such a small number of people are willing to pick up the phone, but emotional connection is still extremely important when it comes to decision making, particularly when pitching.  Where possible get a face to face business development meeting - it beats a call and is miles better than an email.”