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How to develop a sector expansion plan on Nexl
How to develop a sector expansion plan on Nexl

Explaining the value of sector-based business development, plus a step-by-step guide on how to build a sector expansion plan on Nexl!

Gillian Hood avatar
Written by Gillian Hood
Updated over a week ago

Law firms are increasingly placing their focus into developing sector-based expansion and go-to-market strategies, uncovering the merit in growth strategies that focus on target markets.

Over time, law firms have moved away from using traditional forms of business development, such as law and practice areas, in favor of sector-based business development. In this article, we'll expand on the concept of sector expansion plans (or sector-based business development plans), and show you how to manage them on Nexl!

What is a sector expansion plan?

A sector expansion plan is a business development plan for a strategic sector. Law firm leaders develop a vision on how to grow the law firm’s footprint in a specific sector or industry, and then create a process on how to execute on that vision. Essentially, sector-based business development is all about cross-practice collaboration, and creating an integrated approach to sector expansion that will align all teams and their resources.

It’s important that sector expansion plans focus on operationalizing the growth strategy of the firm by setting out repeatable processes, developing routines and creating new habits that lead to revenue growth within the desired sector or industry. Just as a firm-wide business plan encompasses financial and operational elements, sector expansion plans should include the same, planning resource allocation and internal processes required to achieve the firm’s sector expansion goals.

Sector-based business development plans should be practical and action-orientated. The value of a sector expansion plan is not in performing a SWOT analysis or analyzing competitors – the value resides in the plan’s ability to get things done.

How can law firms benefit from sector expansion plans?

A sector expansion plan helps law firms identify new relevant prospects that fit their ideal client profile in a given sector, anticipate their legal needs, and develop clear priorities within strategic market segments. With this knowledge at hand, law firms can capitalize on relationships with key stakeholders and generate opportunities that turn relationships into revenue.

By having a sector-based business development plan, law firms develop a deeper understanding of their current market position in a given sector or industry, and position themselves in a direction for growth. A sector-based business development plan enables law firms to map-out their client base in a specific sector or industry, to identify potential opportunities, and to create a plan of action that aligns the firm around key sector priorities.

While many firms identify their key industries on a high level, expanding the firm’s footprint in a given sector requires more than the typical industry-focused newsletter. A sector-based business development plan provides law firms with a roadmap to achieving those sector expansion goals, with clear and measurable objectives to monitor the firm’s progress along the way.

What outcomes can law firms expect from a sector expansion plan?

The outcome of implementing a successful sector expansion plan is a strong internal and external positioning of the law firm in key markets. Through increased cross-collaboration and coordination in strategic sectors, the firm will gain recognition in a particular sector, remain top-of-mind with influential contacts, and ultimately win more business from that market.

Law firms will have a clear focus on their core clients and prospects in a particular sector, being able to increase their business development activities within the accounts and relationships that matter most to industry expansion. Law firms can expect to see a long-term positive trend in their revenues, generated by a healthy pipeline and client portfolio in a specific sector or industry where the firm sees the most success.

How to manage and run your sector expansion plan on Nexl

Nexl’s Projects module is the ideal tool to build and implement a sector-based business development plan, with features specifically designed to build and implement a sector-based business development plan within law firms.

Here’s how law firms can run their sector initiatives with Nexl.


Step 1: Name Your Project & Link it to MS Teams

Here you’re able to name and describe your sector plan, and link the project to Microsoft Teams for seamless integration. The description field reviews the overall sector-based business development strategy and explains how the program will be run at a high level.


Step 2: Build your Sector Initiative Team

Nexl allows you to create firm-wide projects or to build a custom team to manage your sector initiatives. By adding individuals to the project, it creates ownership and transparency, clearly establishing who will be involved. Once the team is added, your project space is ready for collaboration and your sector-based business development plan is ready to begin!


Step 3: Set SMART Objectives & Actionable Tasks

An important step for any project is setting SMART objectives. A SMART objective is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These objectives break down the larger sector expansion goal into measurable outcomes that will demonstrate success.

Tasks break the sector plan down even further by defining each step necessary to achieve each objective. Tasks keep your team on track and focused by ensuring each person knows what they have been assigned, providing an additional level of transparency and accountability.  


Step 4: Track Referrals & Opportunities to Manage your Sector Pipeline

Tracking opportunities associated with a sector-based plan adds an additional layer by identifying concrete business opportunities and projected revenue. by adding them from within the Project module. Furthermore, since Nexl is purpose-built for law firms, you can also track both inbound and outbound referrals.

Gain Rich Interactive Client Insights

Step 5: Activate your Sector Business Development Plans

Nexl offers a built-in tool for client prospecting. You can easily identify potential clients that match your ideal client profile within a given sector. Once identified, Nexl instantly shows you who within your firm has a connection to the potential client – it even shows you who shares a third-party connection.

But you don’t need an existing connection to take advantage of Nexl’s prospecting tool. Nexl allows you to search for individuals within a prospective client based on job title or location, so you can easily identify the key stakeholders to reach out to. And with Nexl’s data enrichment process, new contacts are automatically populated with email addresses, work history, social profiles, and more.

Case Study_Manage your Inbound and Outbound Client lists for your cross-selling projects

Step 7: Grow Your Revenues

With Nexl’s add-in for Outlook, your attorneys can work on the sector expansion plan directly from their inbox. Once you have the power to set tasks, track objectives, and view relationship insights for every email, it’s never been easier to turn those relationships into opportunities, wins, and revenue.

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