The Business Development Strategies That Attract Your Ideal Clients – Mo Bunnell and James Barclay

James Barclay shares the key content creation strategies that Passel uses to help busy professionals demonstrate the expertise that sets them and their firms apart. Learn about how content creation became the basis for Passel’s business model, how to write and create content for your most important relationships in a way that people will love, and why a podcast is the secret business development hack that most professionals aren’t using right now.


Mo asks James Barclay: When did you realize that business development was great?

  • James’ first job out of college was as a conference organizer and that’s where he learned the power of selling ideas.
  • Selling conferences in the 1990s changed once the internet became more established and James began using websites to promote them, but they discovered that brochure websites weren’t very effective which led to creating content based websites instead.
  • The skills that James and his business partners developed in creating those businesses were a natural fit for content online, but he realized that taking the expertise in his head and sharing it online was actually really difficult. That’s where the idea for Passle came from.
  • Showcasing your expertise online as an expert is crucial, especially when people are still not visiting businesses physically as much.
  • Do something rather than nothing, and realize that you won’t be great at it straight away.
  • Run an audit of LinkedIn to see who you are connected to. Compare that list to a list of the people that give you money for what you do, and if you’re not connected with the people who give you money correct that.
  • Write short, client focused and timely content at least once a month.
  • Your content should be easy to consume and don’t outsource it. Someone shouldn’t be pretending to be you online.
  • Taking content that is already published is a great place to start. Just add your own perspective or commentary to something that already exists.
  • Picture one of your top ten to twenty clients and write something that you know will resonate with them then publish that on a public space like LinkedIn or your blog. Ask them directly what they would be interested in, and then write content around those answers.
  • At the very least share your company’s content and provide some commentary on it. You need to be digitally active. People won’t be thinking of you if you’re not present in the public square that is social media.
  • Write for one person instead of writing for everyone. Think of the people that pay you money for your expertise and then write content with one of those people in mind. They are the most likely to share your content and refer you to other people when they find it useful. That’s how you give your raving fans ammunition.


Mo asks James Barclay: Tell me your personal definition of business development.

  • Growth is all about your leading indicators. Your behaviors, values, and what you do every day are what will put you in a position to win.
  • Focusing on the end of the pipeline will make you look desperate. With the right values and habits, you’ll come up with the right tactics for the people looking to buy from you.
  • Helping is the key to growth. If every time someone reaches out you help them, at some point they will ask you what you do and be interested in what you sell, which is way more effective than reaching out to them to buy your stuff.
  • When someone asks you what you do, turn it around and ask them about themselves and their challenges while looking for an area that you may be able to help them, either with advice or a connection.
  • Curiosity is an emotion that humans love to experience. By getting the other person to ask what you do twice, it increases the curiosity element.
  • Business development is about providing a solution when the other person needs it, and this takes patience and consistency is providing value.
  • It can be even more powerful to be helpful when the other person is unable to buy your services.
  • One of James’ key qualifiers when selling to someone is whether they like him and James likes them as well.
  • It’s common for highly analytical people to talk about anything other than their content and expertise. If you find yourself uncomfortable in a sales environment, your clients probably feel the same. Finding the place that you’re comfortable with could actually be the sweet spot between you and other analytical prospects.
  • Reach out with useful content between billable projects. Sending an asset or an idea is an effective way to keep the conversation going.


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

  • For James, the number one strategy is the Protemoi List. These are the people in your circle that are your partners, prospects, and the key people that could be your raving fans.
  • Having a focused relationship list is an unbeatable edge.
  • When you invest in a relationship, people will move with you. James has had people buy from his company multiple times over multiple jobs.
  • Your Protemoi List is a list of five to ten people that have outsized returns on the amount of time and energy you invest in the relationship.
  • The first strategy is to simply be useful to them. Offer to take them to events with you that you believe would be helpful to them. Find content and then pass it on to people you think would find it useful.
  • Celebrate them at every opportunity. Accelerate them and give them a platform where you highlight them and what they are doing.
  • A personal newsletter can be incredibly powerful. You don’t need thousands of people on your list for it to be worth it.
  • Build something that is extremely accessible to them, extremely useful to them, and don’t waste their time.
  • It can take some time to build momentum, but you have to start somewhere. If you can write something useful for one person you can build it over time and create something really valuable.
  • Consistency matters. Find a cadence that works for you and your schedule and stick with it.


Mo asks James Barclay: Tell me a story about the business development that you are the proudest of.

  • James’ challenge in reaching prospects is connecting with CMOs in law firms and working up the chain can take some time. The Passel podcast was born once the team understood how useful it is as a business development tool.
  • The podcast gives them an opportunity to talk to their perfect prospects and gives them a chance to talk about the things they are passionate about while getting to know them at the same time. Eventually, the CMO starts asking about James and the team does and it’s a great way to have the right conversations with the right people.
  • The more fantastic content you have on a podcast, the more of their target customers become interested in being featured on the podcast.
  • James found that short and sharp podcasts perform best. Celebrate what your guest has accomplished and give them a platform. Your podcast should have a specific theme and structure for the episodes, and understand that it’s a skill that takes time to learn and get good at.
  • If you can, provide feedback and let your guest know how many people listened to their interview.
  • Seasons are a good framework, along with having a set of questions that you can repeat and reuse.
  • Repurposing the asset after the fact is another great way to get more exposure.
  • Make sure you know what the win is for the interviewee.


Mo asks James Barclay: If you could record a video around business development and send it back to your younger self, what would it say?

  • James is naturally impatient, so he would tell his younger self to cultivate patience.
  • You can’t sell stuff by shouting at people that they should buy from you. It’s not your sales process, it’s about their buying process.
  • Think about the actions that you can do consistently that will lay the groundwork for outcomes instead of focusing on the outcomes themselves.
  • Accept the fact that you are often fighting fires and won’t always be perfect at your business development habits. Having a team that can support you and keep you on track when you need it is a big asset. Make sure you are surrounded by people you trust.
  • Set some time aside each week to track your most important things and what you got done and what’s still on the list.
  • James would always tell his younger self that the best ideas don’t come when you’re looking at a screen. Your best ideas will come when you’re unplugged.



Mentioned in this Episode:






Nathan Barry on ConvertKit, Automation and Engaging Your Audience – What You Need To Succeed (season 2 episode 43)

How to Use ConvertKit to Create and Close More Opportunities, with Nathan Barry (season 2 episode 44)

How to Use ConvertKit to Deepen Relationships, with Nathan Barry (season 2 episode 45)

How to Hack Our Own Habits to Accomplish More, with Nathan Barry (season 2 episode 46)

The Top 3 Things You Need to Implement from Nathan Barry, Founder of ConvertKit (season 2 episode 47)

Scroll to Top