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Creating a 5-Step Business Development Process

Do new business prospects slip through the cracks? Do you deliver proposals and never hear another word? Do people in your firm resist the idea of “selling” or claim they’re too busy for business development? A cure for all of these problems is a business development process.

Without a business development process, leading your firm forward or growing consistently is challenging. Business development isn’t sales—it’s implementing strategies across your firm to promote growth and increase revenues. And it’s not solely the responsibility of your firm’s marketing team or partners—everyone in the firm can and should be a part of the process.

Although every firm’s exact process for landing new clients will look different, the following five steps are an excellent place to start.

Step 1: Discovery

When your marketing efforts generate interest in your services, this creates a lead. You should schedule a call with new leads as soon as possible. This is known as a discovery call.

The discovery call serves four purposes:

  • You can ask the client some initial questions about what they need.

  • You seek to understand their pain points. Why do they need your service? Why do they want to change firms?

  • You gain an understanding of their decision-making process. Who will ultimately make the decision to work with your firm? What factors into that decision (price, value, trust, etc.)?

  • You identify the people in your team best suited to meet the potential client’s needs.

Step 2: Deep Dive

This second call (or meeting) is a chance to take a deeper dive into their pain points. It connects the right person from your firm with the potential client’s decision-maker. You ask detailed questions to ensure you understand the nuances of the problem they want to solve by working with you.

This step is also when you collaboratively create a game plan with your team and share your capabilities, process and pricing. Coming up with a game plan doesn’t have to happen during the deep dive call. Once you have a deep dive call with the client, you may need to meet separately with your team to strategize.

Step 3: Decision-Making

By the time you reach the decision-making process, your prospect has all the information they need, and it’s time for them to decide whether to engage with you. They may compare your package and pricing to other firms. Make sure you schedule a time to follow up with them about their decision.

Your role during this step is to follow up with your prospect and answer any additional questions that might arise.

Step 4: Awaiting Signature

Once the prospect decides to engage your firm, you need to send a contract or engagement letter. You may need to follow up with the client to get the signed engagement letter.

Step 5: Close

At the end of this process, you’ve either won the new business, and you can move on to new client onboarding, or the client decided to engage another firm and close out the prospect. Be sure to communicate the decision and details to all appropriate parties.

So who on your busy team is going to oversee this process? This is where having a business development quarterback comes in. Someone in your firm should be responsible for overseeing every lead. Of course, the same person doesn’t have to monitor all leads, but each lead needs someone in charge.

Your business development quarterback doesn’t necessarily have to lead all the calls and handle all the tasks involved in the process. However, they make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing when they’re supposed to.

Working through your business development process helps your team understand your firm’s goals and strategy for winning new clients. So take some time to think through your business development process and ensure you have someone to quarterback prospects through it. Then you’ll have everyone on your team working toward the same goals, leading to greater success and growth.


Jon Hubbard, Shareholder, Consultant, at Boomer Consulting helps accounting firm leaders find success in the areas of leadership, talent and growth. Jon is a facilitator for the Boomer P3 Leadership Academy, Boomer Talent Circle and Boomer Marketing & BD Circle. He also guides firms to grow and be more effective in the areas of client service, marketing and business development.   

Jon speaks at various industry conferences, user conferences, state societies, and associations. He is a Storybrand Certified Guide and Certified Kolbe Consultant.

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