Reprinted with permission from CPA Practice Management Forum
Like parenthood, the role of managing partner is one of those critically important functions for which there’s no rulebook. It’s a heady responsibility and it’s not for the faint of heart.
The managing partner’s approach to growth drives much of what happens in, and to your firm. When that approach is informed, you can expect a successful hunt. When it isn’t, disappointment and frustration are likely.
Ready for a New Job?
Many managing partners came up through the ranks with a bulging book of business under their belts. Expert at client management and relationships, they have excelled at developing and growing sources of revenue. They’ve typically been highly visible in the community for years, often hobnobbing with lawyers and bankers to help the firm expand its client base.
But there’s a big difference between being a hunter and organizing the hunt. Managing partners who can segue into the role of leading other hunters achieve much more leverage than merely continuing to be an individual contributor. The result is faster revenue growth for the entire firm.
The first thing you need to do is come off the hunting ground and spend time getting other hunters prepared. This is a difficult thing to do if you love the hunt and would rather be out of the office. It also requires that you finesse your time and focus so that you don’t hurt short-term revenue opportunities from game you’re hunting!
Getting other hunters aligned with your vision is critical. Maybe they’d rather sit around the campfire where it’s cozy and warm. You’ve got to paint a compelling vision of the reward for bringing in more and bigger game.
What are your growth objectives? Is the goal parity with your top competitors? Is it about becoming the biggest firm in town? Or is it to establish a boutique firm that is, by design, not all things to all clients? You need buy-in and muscle to pursue the hunt as a focused, successful tribe. I recommend the following:
- Rally the hunters around a target. Is the big wooly mammoth you’ve set out to conquer a large physician practice, the local construction industry or the nonprofit sector? Organize yourselves around buyer groups or industry niches. Failure to do this will lead to everybody hunting everywhere, possibly shooting one another and losing any chance for focus and success.
- Align the hunters. If you’re trolling out there on the south hunting ground while the rest of the tribe has gathered on the eastern plain, nailing the big game as a team is going to be tough. You need the market intelligence to determine where to go and when to go there. Keep your ear to the ground with information about your target, and feedback from hunters in the field. Much has been written about the power of a pipeline process, and it truly is the best way to accomplish this.
- Train the hunters. Desire is not enough to bring in the big game. Your tribe must be prepared to manage sophisticated weaponry and approaches. This might include tools that uncover prospect needs, or tactics that include flank maneuvers, instead of full frontal attacks. It’s the managing partner’s job to get members of the tribe the training they need to successfully hunt. Attending Chamber of Commerce lunches may be appropriate if you’re hunting wild rabbit. But it’s not enough to score the big wooly mammoth.
The Buck Stops Here
While your firm may have access to the services of a competent marketing director, remember that the buck stops with the managing partner. Organizing the hunt is a big, sweaty job. It requires stoking the fire, making sure the pelts are properly cured and keeping other tribes out of your campsite. In other words, it requires unrelenting focus and follow-through.
At the end of the day, the managing partner is responsible for making sure the tribe is fed and energized, ready for the next day’s hunt.