Friday, April 30, 2010

Achieving CRM Success - What Will It Cost?

We are fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable CRM providers with specific professional services industry expertise. All the companies understand both the profession and the business of law and have excellent products and technology created and customized specifically to succeed in a law firm environment.

Unlike non-legal CRM providers whose products may ‘sync’ with Outlook in order to move Outlook contacts into a separate system, these products truly integrate. For the attorney, this means accessing the core functionalities of CRM without leaving the Outlook environment. It also means that only moderate training will be required and there will be few changes to their business processes.

Despite some perceptions to the contrary, the pricing of professional service CRM providers is usually lower than the pricing of providers outside the industry. Even, the perceived low cost solution, starts at around $65, according to their published pricing. While this may initially sound reasonable, that cost is per user, per month. When you do some simple math (which is good, because, as lawyers, many of us don’t relish math), this equates to $780 per user per year – every year. That also doesn’t include additional licenses you need for marketing and support staff. Some firms have suggested that the price of CRM systems from industry providers is too high, at least in proportion to the benefits. (I would first suggest that these firms are not recognizing the value of their systems due to inadequate strategies and planning, but that’s a topic for another post at a later date). Even so, the price would almost never be $78,000 per year for a 100-attorney firm.

Another important consideration is that law firms have unique needs. It could be a challenging, and expensive, proposition to try to meet those needs by attempting to customize a system that was built to automate and facilitate the business processes of corporations or sales organizations. While there may be commonalities, providing professional services is not the same as selling widgets. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

10 Common Business Development Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Effective business development has become one of the primary keys to a successful legal career. Despite what many people think - or have been led to think - business development doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or time consuming – and the return on investment can be substantial.

So what is the payoff for business development? Besides the benefits of building long, profitable relationships and loyal, happy Clients, surveys by the BTI Consulting Group further quantify the results. Their research asserts that each hour per week devoted to business development can yield up to $23,400 in additional fee revenue per year. If you invest just an hour or two per week, the returns can be substantial. 

The key to maximizing your return is to invest your time and resources wisely and avoid some common and costly mistakes. In the next few business development blog posts, I’ll discuss some of the most common mistakes. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Achieving CRM Success - What Is Essential

Once you have finished with your internal needs assessment, you are ready to consider solutions. One of the CRM ‘must haves’ for law firms is seamless integration with Outlook. Let’s face it, attorneys are busy. These people are balancing client demands - and sometimes demanding Clients – with critical deadlines and significant billable hour requirements, while being leg-ironed to their BlackBerrys and wading through a never-ending flood of e-mails. They will not adopt a system that requires them to change their business processes or sit in tedious training classes to learn new software.

But while attorneys may be averse to spending time ‘managing’ contacts in a new system, they live or die by their current systems for e-mail, calendars and contacts, primarily Outlook. In fact, for solos and very small firms, Outlook is often the primary - and sometimes the only - tool they use to manage their Client and contact relationships. As a result, any system that does not almost completely and seamlessly integrate with Outlook will not succeed in a law firm. This has been proven by the number of failed implementations of systems without this tight integration. 

This is also a reason to work with a CRM provider with experience in working with professional services firms and to select a system that has been built to accommodate their needs and processes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Achieving CRM Success - What to Focus On

Clients frequently come to us for help with CRM Success. In working together with firms of all sizes on CRM projects, I have come to appreciate that there is no “one size fits all” for CRM success - either in terms of systems or functions. What is more important is to understand what you are trying to accomplish –the firm’s unique needs and goals– and then to fully evaluate all of the solutions that are available to determine which one can best meet those needs and goals.

It’s important to remember that CRM is about people, process and technology. When CRM systems failed to meet expectations in the past - and a significant number of them did – it was often due to the people and process issues rather than the technology. Additionally, a CRM system should help the firm solve problems and automate processes. So to succeed with CRM, focus on people, processes and problems first, products second. 

Welcome to Growing Relationships

Welcome to Growing Relationships, a blog on Client Relationship Management – or CRM – Success from Chris Fritsch at ClientsFirst Consulting.

At ClientsFirst, everything we do focuses on relationships - including this blog, which is dedicated to Growing Relationships through business development, technology and Client service. The goal of the blog will be to provide and share ideas, information and best practices to help build, enhance and leverage the relationships that are crucial to business development and CRM Success.

Feel free to visit anytime to see what we're saying - and to contribute to the conversations. You can also subscribe to our Growing Relationships Success Tips to receive blog updates via e-mail by filling out the blog subscription form.

Ultimately, the focus of ClientsFirst – and our blog – will always be the Clients. So enough about us – our next posts will focus on helping our Clients to achieve business development and CRM success! Thanks for reading.