How to effectively deliver BD in the party season


Ben Paul
November 29, 2022
Business Development

For most people within professional services, November and December are the times to focus on finishing their client work, and then heading off for a well-earned break, at the end of what is usually a pretty tiring year. However, as we always recommend here at The BD Ladder, BD is not an activity that should be done sporadically. A regular BD habit (even one that’s only 18 minutes a day) can have a real effect on helping you have healthy client relationships and a sustainable pipeline of work. So it is important to do some BD in the party season.

The party season does absolutely change the type of BD that you can do, and also the types of BD activities that are effective and appreciated by clients. There are also a few BD, or what I would actually term “client entertainment/appreciation activities”, that need to be considered.

 Below is a simple guide to what’s the best way to enjoy the end of the year, whilst still doing some meaningful BD or even client entertainment.

Cards – Physical cards or a digital alternative?

The physical card:

The Positives: A big advantage of this is that it is way more personal. If you get a hand-written card with a personalised message from someone, it is likely to have a positive emotional impact on you. The same is true of your clients. It does mean that you must make each message relevant and specific to each individual. So perhaps less is more here, and send these to your most important clients.

The negatives: There is no doubt that this is a time-consuming process if done correctly. Also, it is questionable from an environmental perspective. The production and sending of cards, even recycled ones, have an impact on our carbon footprint. Therefore, some clients may not appreciate a physical card, if they are particularly passionate about sustainability.

An e-card:

The Positives: These are relatively low-cost to produce. Online tools like Canva and other video editing software mean you can do this yourself at a pretty low cost. They can also help drive some traffic to your website or YouTube channel, as people will need to click on a link to view the e-card. It can be a good way to promote your brand. It is important to get the tone of this right. It is pertinent to focus on a Season’s greeting and try to make your online e-card accessible and applicable to multiple faiths. Finally, I think it is very good for your brand if you donate some money to charity, instead of buying physical cards.

 

The Negatives: It’s just not very personal. As so many e-cards are produced and sent out, it tends not to have that much engagement with people. In short, it is very hard to stand out. It can also absorb too much time if you get too involved in the production of your e-card. However, if you send a personal email, with the card embedded or a link to the card enclosed it can still have a positive impact. That’s because what you write and the time taken to write the message is appreciated – above the fancy digital card itself.

Client lunches and drinks to celebrate the Season.

The Positives: It’s a nice thing to do. It shows you appreciate your clients and that you enjoy spending time with them. If you’ve both worked hard on something together throughout the year, then it is nice to sit down and relax over some nice food and simply have a relaxed conversation. Some clients genuinely look forward to being taken out for a lunch by their providers at the end of every year. Some clients even expect this.

The Negatives: This can be quite an investment on your budget and your time. If you have a lot of clients you need to take out, it could also have an impact on your waistline! My personal view is that lunches in December are great as a ‘thank you’ to your client, but are unlikely to have a positive impact on your business development efforts. If business development is your main aim in these lunches, it is better to book them in late January or early February. If you need any additional with next year’s plans, then you can download this BD Client Action Plan.  After all, lunches and meetings in January/February will have you top of mind during the part of the year when your clients start making decisions. They may also appreciate it, as many people are overloaded with invites during December and sometimes attend these events out of duty, not out of a real desire to attend!

Can you still prospect for new clients?

The simple answer is in most cases this is not the ideal time to do prospecting. Most of your target market is also likely to be clearing their decks and not looking to be engaging in anything new. That mindset means that are less likely to be receptive to new or cold approaches. This means it is probably time to have your BD focus on something different in the short term, at least in the last two months of the year. I would advocate something like the below:

  • Reach out to your existing clients.
    • Thank them for the work you have done together this year
    • Wish them a good break
    • Put a time in the diary now to meet with them early next year
  • Reach out to your network of referrers
    • Thank them for all the referrals they have passed this year
    • Wish them a good break
    • Put a time in the diary now to meet with them early next year
  • Prospects/Target clients
    • Research and get a list of contacts
    • See if any of your network knows them
    • Start to plan your approach to be made in January/February

Remember with your clients and referrers – if appropriate, or something you think they would appreciate, by all means, feel free to send them a gift or take them for lunch. Saying thank you, in an authentic and genuine way, is always appreciated.

Conclusion – BD in the Party Season

Unless there has been a significant new change, be that a new law, accounting principle or sudden desire to get infrastructure/buildings built, it is unlikely that your clients will want to think about anything new at this time of the year.

Therefore, take this time to further cement your relationships with some genuine messages of thanks and appreciation. It will be well received and sets you up well for next year’s BD activities.

Need-help-planning-your-BD-Activity.-Download-a-copy-of-our-free-BD-Client-Action-plan.