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Step One in establishing a reliable business development practice is understanding the lingua franca of the discipline.

Because lawyers have a congenital aversion to the word "sales," they tend to favor any euphemistic alternative.

So, we've ended up with "business development," "client development," "marketing," etc. (It's ironic that lawyers embrace sloppy language since they're so rigorous about language precision otherwise.)

The issue is not semantics, but application; these words are not interchangeable. Each refers to a different function, skill set and purpose. Without understanding and honoring the difference, it's almost certain your activity won't match your purpose.


Marketing is all about demonstrating your relevance to an organized group of people whom you suspect may face a business problem or opportunity that creates a need for your service. 

What might cause you to suspect that someone needs you? The easiest objective indicator is their membership in a group that tends to have that problem. An industry is a particularly useful example.

Remember, though, that "suspect" doesn't mean "conclude." Suspecting a need triggers a disciplined, cooperative investigation, not a sales pitch. (Actually, nothing should ever trigger a sales pitch. There is zero demand for pitches.)

The purpose of your marketing plan and campaign is to make sure that these Suspects find you and and are motivated to engage with you.


Selling only begins when a Suspect confirms the presence of such a problem or opportunity. It has nothing to do with persuading. It's about facilitating decisions. This means you must have the discipline not to go into solution-description mode prematurely. Wait until a buyer has explicitly acknowledged a demand-creating problem. Then, investigate The Cost of Doing Nothing to avoid investing in problems where the company has the luxury of delaying action. If they don't have to take action, they won't.

Mike O'Horo

Through engaging scenario-based simulations, RainmakerVT's suite of interactive virtual training will teach you exactly how to master these critical skills.  

If you've ever purchased or participated in any kind of business development training, you know that much of the training you're asked to devote time to feels like "just in case." You can't see any immediate application for it, so you put it in the "get around to it when I have extra time" column. (We both know when you'll have extra time.)

RainmakerVT can help you develop the rainmaking skills you need to succeed amid real competition. This is not your grandfather's training. There's no program to follow, no big commitments, no nagging.

This is just-in-time training. That means you buy only the course you need right now to prepare for what you'll face in the next week or so.

Take a look at our course list, and then read what lawyers like you said about RainmakerVT in user-feedback interviews.