Problem Solving in Business Development with Mo Bunnell and Jane Allen

By Mo Bunnell

Jane Allen shares how she built a brand new category of business by taking a chance on trying to solve a problem she saw lawyers facing every single day. Find out about how Jane grew her initial client base for Counsel on Call, how proactive problem solving can be developed into a growth system for business, and why the most important thing you can do in sales is take a chance and ask for what you want.


Mo asks Jane Allen: Tell me of the moment where you realized you wanted to focus on business development.

  • Jane originally went to law school because she had read Death of a Salesman in college, and she didn’t want to end up like Willy Loman. It turned out that to be a successful lawyer, you had to be a really good Willy Loman.
  • Jane loved working with clients to solve their problems, and when you do that, they want you to solve more problems. Her natural approach of getting to know her clients in order to solve their problems made her realize that she loves the relationship building aspect of the business.
  • There are a lot of women leaving the profession of being a lawyer. Prior to launching Counsel on Call Jane started looking for women who were exiting the industry to help her solve client problems in a different way.
  • The business became a hybrid solution for meeting a need in the marketplace as well as the lawyers that serviced clients.
  • Jane had three children in three years while also working as a lawyer full time. She was never the person that went to networking events, but she did have the advantage of working with very well-respected partners.
  • Jane started her business by dialing for dollars out of the Nashville Bar Association book. She committed to making ten phone calls each day, started tracking her metrics, and landing meetings.
  • Many said no, but most people said yes and the momentum started to snowball.
  • When it comes to extremely technical professions, many people struggle with asking for help. Jane’s approach was the reverse, and focused specifically on asking for help in creating a company that would change her prospect’s business for the better.
  • As an entrepreneur trying to solve a problem, Jane needed the voices of people in the industry to understand that a problem really existed and what the possible solution would be.
  • To start off, Jane began with one lawyer and one law firm, and after the first few years the company had three offices helping lawyers practice in a way they couldn’t before. By the time Jane sold the company, there were 1,200 lawyers on the team.
  • Jane recalls the story of how she helped one lawyer in particular in a relatively minor way, and how her advice allowed his career to flourish, simply by being willing to help.


Mo asks Jane Allen: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Jane’s definition is simply proactive problem solving. If you are trying to sell something, it should be something they need and may not know they need it. It’s about showing them a problem they have as well as the solution.
  • People don’t like to be sold to, but they do like to buy.
  • If you’re struggling with being proactive, realize that it’s not the job of the prospect to call you or respond to your email. It’s your job to get the meeting.
  • One of the best kinds of meetings is when someone says that they are not going to work with you, then at least you’re not going to waste your time.
  • Don’t waste their time. Even if you think you have all the answers, you don’t. The goal of the first meeting is to ask thought provoking questions and to determine whether you have a solution to their problem.
  • If you can’t resolve everything in one meeting, the goal is to secure the next. The prospect should understand the importance of the next meeting and you should give them enough of a cliffhanger that they anticipate it.


Mo asks Jane Allen: What is your favorite science, step, or story from the GrowBIG Training or Snowball System?

  • The personality test was the most fascinating element of the GrowBIG Training that completely transformed the way Jane’s company thought about meetings and communicating with other people.
  • Jane has a systems mindset that allows her to scale a business that served her very well in Counsel on Call. Efficiency is a major driver for Jane, and she is always looking for ways to grow that don’t lose the elements of a personal relationship.
  • Jane set communication as a priority from the start and then developed systems around that central principle.
  • Jane also spent a lot of time developing databases to track metrics like the number of Give-to-Gets completed, objections, and asking for the next steps. Practice and having fun were also built into the system.
  • The business has to be bigger than the individual. You have to capture the data to help you learn and evolve and keep yourself and your team accountable.
  • If you’re not meeting people who are decision makers or can’t help you get to that point, is it really a good use of your time? You have to get honest about how you spend your time and then get really deliberate about how you spend the time you have.
  • Focus first on how you’re different, and then how you’re going to eliminate the prospect’s risk of change.
  • Measuring the quantity and quality of your business development efforts is the key to seeing an increase in your results. Try to get one metric of each that matches your book of business and relationships you’re trying to build.


Mo asks Jane Allen: Tell us a business development story that you are really proud of.

  • Jane tells the story from the early 2000’s during a time when the people they were serving in corporate America were being overwhelmed by the explosion of data. One fateful dinner and “what if” scenario later, Jane started collaborating with a firm to solve real world problems with a solution that was unheard of at the time.
  • As an entrepreneur, Jane didn’t take time to reflect on the success since she was so focused on the execution. Looking back now, finding a partner that was willing to take a risk and then deliver something that enabled her clients to practice law in a completely different way is something she’s very proud of.
  • In terms of her career, Jane is most proud of the incredible people she worked with and learned from, as well as being willing to take the chance on herself and her vision for her business.
  • Reach for your goals and take the chance. Rejection is a part of life, but you will never achieve anything if you don’t try.


Mo asks Jane Allen: If you could record a message to your younger self around business development or growth skills, what would it say?

  • Jane would tell herself to embrace it. Embrace your intrinsic drive to connect with people.
  • Jane wouldn’t have referred to herself as an extrovert, but when it came to her work and her business, she committed herself to getting the job done and connecting with people.
  • Jane likes to solve people’s problems and connect them with what they need. Creating systems in her life that drive those actions and allow her focus on that has been the key to her success.
  • Before becoming a lawyer, Jane was a school teacher where she loved helping kids understand complex problems. That trait has been a common thread throughout her life.
  • Jane now works with entrepreneurs and helps them find resources and mentors through the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.



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