BD Tips asks: do we have to be more like lawyers to get them to understand us?


So, I was talking to the chief exec the other day and he reflected that the group of partners I work for are "a pretty dysfunctional bunch". I didn’t really give this much thought until some time later, when I realised that though he was almost apologetic about it, he didn’t see it as a significant problem. 


Of course we’re all aware of headlines announcing that most Fortune CEOs are sociopaths, and it seems very fashionable right now to be ‘a bit asp-y’. Frankly, this is as offensive as it is ill–informed, but he was right - they are a pretty dysfunctional bunch. He knows it, they know it and I know it. I can’t vouch for their mental health, but for a group of talented, intelligent people they certainly say some crazy things sometimes.


Le Grand Fromage and I talked about how we must work closely with the partners to coach and empower them to feel more confident when talking to clients - but what about how we interact with our internal clients? The partners pay our wages and we are there to deliver a service to them, and as we counsel them to listen to clients and respond in a way that suits how the client works, we must do the same. Which means accepting what partners are like and dealing with it.


It can be incredibly frustrating for BD people (who tend to be right brainers) to build relationships and influence logical, process-led, methodical lawyers - but perhaps we must practise what we preach, and be a little dysfunctional ourselves.


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