I’m a strong advocate of the concept of maximizing existing relationships first when undertaking business development efforts – 80/20 rule and all. It’s obvious that those people you know and your company has already served are more likely to bring in new and additional business than those who have no connection.
So how to evaluate the relationships (friends, family, etc) that your employees have in a way that maximizes your ability to turn them into customers or increase their business? There’s social media of course, but that’s for another blog post. First, you must evaluate what the relationships are – then you can strategically determine the influencers who can turn the relationships into new or additional business.
That’s where a CRM comes in. A CRM (customer relationship management system) is a system long-utilized by large companies to manage customer and sales information and communication functions. CRM Forecast says, “Professional services and CRM software are a symbiotic duo. A professional services firm’s most valuable asset is the relationships its professionals nurture with clients and industry colleagues. These relationships are often the source of new business referrals and the single most influential factor in winning new sale opportunities. Top services firms leverage customer relationship management systems to centralize their firm’s collective knowledge, experience and relationship networks into a firm-wide asset that can be exploited for successful business development purposes.”
Coming from the professional services sector, however, there’s an additional functionality that can be extremely beneficial to law firms, accounting firms, and the like – moving beyond just a database of sorts to manage customer data. While that and the other benefits listed above are important, a firm can also leverage its CRM to identify potential clients through the firm’s employee and practitioner base. By syncing with a firm’s Outlook Contacts system, business development professionals can identify the companies and contacts that their employees and attorneys/CPAs have (and that may be personal in nature) and facilitate an introduction to its services via a trusted source.
Although there are admittedly some complex issues to overcome in successfully implementing a system in this kind of environment (chief among them cost, buy-in by partners, and transparency/sharing of trusted client and contact info), the benefits outweigh the challenges and when done right, can improve the bottom line.
The Brain Trust sources below provide additional information on the opportunities:
How Implementing A CRM Will Increase Sales At Your Law Firm (Lexicata)
Many law firms use case management software, but not so many use a CRM or customer relationship management solution. CRMs are traditionally used by large corporations with thousands of sales reps in order to better organize their customer data. But these days, CRMs are becoming more widely adopted by every type of business, all the way down to mom ‘n pop shops. Even law firms can benefit greatly by implementing a CRM to better track their prospects and create more structure and organization in the sales cycle.
Contacts Management Database: Can Your Law Firm Handle the Change? (Findlaw)
Law firm marketing directors learn early on that we must become agents of organizational change in order to be effective in our jobs. Recently, my mid-sized, regional law firm, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, underwent a significant change by purchasing and implementing a new client relationship management (CRM) database. A summary of a few of the organizational change issues and obstacles we encountered may be of value to those of you in other firms who face a similar business decision. We implemented the InterAction database product, but there are similar solutions on the market that will cause a firm to encounter these same change issues.
Overcome 3 Challenges Faced by Professional Services Firms with a Specific CRM Solution (CRM Software Blog)
The flexibility of a CRM solution such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 allows you to turn it into the heart of your organization’s operations. You can then use it as the entryway from which all your activities can be completed. It can also integrate a solution specifically designed for your industry, allowing you to complete all your tasks from a single interface that’s intuitive, familiar and user-friendly. With a solution that incorporates their specific business rules and needs, professional services firms can overcome several of the challenges they encounter daily.
Comparing Four Law Firm CRM Systems Built for Lawyers (Jaffe)
Here are four CRM systems that are designed specifically for attorneys and law firms. Note that there are also many generic CRM systems out there that, with customization, may work for your firm. This list was compiled by reviewing the product website, multiple product reviews and user reviews.
What Do CRM Professional Services Cost? (CRM Switch)
In fact, there is a very large range in what organizations pay for CRM professional services. Some companies use CRM with only some minor changes to the systems’ out of the box configuration. Other companies consolidate functionality from multiple legacy database systems into their CRM system and develop custom integrations. These companies can end up spending well into five figures over the course of time.