We work a great deal with professional services firms. Those we do not end up working with often share a weakness. Even some we work with show this trait. The thing is, and this is incredibly frustrating, the problems this weakness brings can be avoided. So what is this weakness?
It is a weakness that is based on an assumption. The assumption is this. That all work is won by the network of contacts of the senior people within the business. As such it does not matter too much that the web site does not display well on an mobile device, social media is a waste of time populated by weirdos, and anything supporting building the profile of a business is frankly too expensive to contemplate. It can go further. The younger guys never win any work from networking events and if they come up with something to attend and it does not produce anything in a short space of time then best keep them in doors ‘fee earning’.
Now let us be in no doubt that most new work in professional firms is still won though a heady cocktail of reputation and referral, some of which can be intensely personal. However, relationships and reputations wane unless they are reinvigorated by new. The very Partners who dismiss digital activity are perhaps the same people watching their kids extending their communications through a wide range of digital outlets…. these kids of course are now becoming important buyers and influencers and new ways of communicating and doing business are now well established.
It is of course more than a digital or ‘marketing’ problem it is about skill transfer. Succession planning needs to be continuous. Mentoring, planning for future skill needs and assisting with leadership are all critically important.
Sadly some practices will decline, fade and possibly cease to exist. The promised payout or consultancy earning from later life will evaporate and no doubt these Partners & Directors will feel that the business has let them down after all their hard work!