Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pipeline to Success - Part 2: The Spreadsheet vs The Pipeline

At its most basic, a pipeline is simply a way to track and report on business development efforts. Initially, when law firms began tracking business development opportunities, the original tool of choice was Excel. Even at some of the largest firms, lawyers often tended to gravitate to spreadsheets to track just about everything. There are several reasons: they are easy to use, they’re on the desktop, they allow you to enter almost unlimited information, and they can even be used to print detailed lists and colorful charts and graphs. As a result, for many firms, Excel was a good place to start building basic business development pipelines.

The problem with spreadsheets, however, is that they have limitations. First off, they're “flat.” Spreadsheets were designed for quick and easy entry of large amounts of basic, linear data such as the contact names and information for people or companies as well as other key details, which are the basic building blocks of a pipeline. But because spreadsheets are flat, they don’t allow for ongoing tracking of important activities related to an opportunity or for capturing historical information such as last steps and next steps. This type of information can be incredibly important when trying to move opportunities forward or determine the best process for bringing in business….

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pipeline to Success - Part 1: Law Firms Finally Embracing CRM for Business Development Tracking

What gets measured gets done. This can certainly be said about “non-billable” activities in law firms. For anyone familiar with attorneys, this is not surprising. Busy lawyers are tasked with competing demands for their very valuable – and very limited – time. And for lawyers, time is money – literally. So when there is client work to be done, anything that takes away from billing often ends up being put off until they have time – which sometimes means indefinitely.

But as competition for work has increased recently, law firms are finally being forced to focus on the one non-billable activity that makes all the other billable activities possible: business development. As a result, attorneys have learned that successful business development takes time. So, not surprisingly, they are now searching for technology to make this process less time-consuming and more effective. One type of technology that can help enhance law firm business development efforts has actually been ubiquitous in other industries for years: the business development pipeline (of course, most other industries call it a sales pipeline, but let’s not split hairs)….

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 11: Don't Do It Alone

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, don't worry. Few people have the extensive experience to successfully deploy a CRM system by themselves. Still fewer are excited about expending the effort to get this experience. Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. You can reach out to CRM providers for assistance, engage experienced consultants or, even better, ask for advice from LMA colleagues. The willingness to share knowledge is what makes the LMA community such a valuable resource.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 10: Evolve

CRM isn't a project or an implementation. It’s a fundamental change – and improvement – in how your firm manages its most important assets – its relationships. As a result, CRM deployments shouldn’t end – they should evolve. There will always be new problems to solve and new business to bring in. So be sure to plan for the future and continually explore features, upgrades and integrations...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 9: Dedicate Required Resources

Too often, firms are willing to spend money on a system but don't budget for other essential resources. More important than the investment in the technology can be the time and human resources required for success. Dedicated CRM staffing is not only necessary, it is essential.

For all firms, a CRM project manager will be beneficial during the rollout. Larger firms may also need a dedicated full- or part-time CRM manager for ongoing success. Data quality resources are also imperative, especially during the rollout when shared attorneys’ contacts flow into the system creating a significant number of duplicates. Additionally, an estimated 30% of contact data becomes outdated each year as people move, change jobs, get married and have other status changes. This means ongoing data quality support will be required because if attorneys don't trust the data, they won't trust the system……

Monday, March 2, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 8: Train Continuously

Finally, even if you get everything else right, CRM won't succeed without effective training. It’s important to develop training plans and materials targeted to the needs of key groups. Assistants should attend classes customized to their work routines, while training for attorneys should focus on business processes, not buttons to push. To really enhance attorney engagement, training should take place in their offices and should take no more than 30 minutes. This training is often most effective when it’s done by someone who can communicate CRM benefits, which is why many firms have Marketing lead the attorney training. Also, because CRM is ongoing, training doesn't end after the rollout. Be sure to create continuing education for new hires and laterals. Finally, to get people to attend training, don't forget one of the biggest keys to CRM success in a law firm: food…….!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CRM Success Steps and Strategies - Part 7: Communicate Effectively

As with any type of technology implementation, ongoing communication and training will be imperative. End users need to understand the reasons for CRM and, most importantly, what’s in it for them. Create benefit statements for key groups. Provide relevant information and answer questions. Get firm leaders to sign off on key communications to demonstrate support. Most importantly, when good things happen, share successes.

Additionally, as marketers, we all know that a bit of branding can make anything (even CRM) more appealing. Come up with a theme for the rollout – and don't be afraid to have some fun. Yes, I also just used the words “fun” and “CRM” in the same sentence. Create campaigns and contests and give away prizes to drive participation….