Last week’s Marketing Partner Forum (MPF) was a great way to kick off the 2020 events calendar. Lots of value to be had and I just wanted to share one of the big takeaways for me, which relates to key client/strategic account management.
While firms continue to be interested in building key client programs (and evolving these into strategic accounts), it’s clear that efforts in this area are still largely ad-hoc and driven (if at all) by the Marketing and BD function with limited support from the exec committee.
That tees up a number of questions and challenges including:
- How to incorporate a ‘relationship manager’ role into the client relationship that is not a lawyer (or at least not a lawyer with a vested interest in the client or its matters), and (especially when a ‘non-lawyer’) how to ensure their feedback and direction is valued and acted upon
- How to structure compensation of those in the role
- What qualifications and skills and experience are necessary to succeed in this type of role
- How are relationship activities tracked and managed
- How is success measured
GCs continue to want and expect deeper relationships with their outside counsel, but are not seeing consistent progress. Things like listening to their needs, understanding their business, proactively identifying risks and issues that they’re not even aware of, etc – all of which has been surveyed and reported to death, but it’s just not occurring with any consistency.
I was particularly drawn to Alvidas Jasin, Director of Client Development at Ropes & Gray, who seem to have this figured out. He spoke at length on what he and his firm are doing in the area of strategic account management. They’ve grown their team significantly over the last few years, and it’s paying dividends with their client relationships.
There’s obviously still plenty of learning opportunity around this whole client development piece and we have a webinar planned for February where we will pick up where MPF left off. Details soon.