Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Categorizing CRM Contacts - 'Status' Symbols

Another way you may want to categorize CRM contacts is by contact ‘status’ or ‘type.’ This will allow you to better keep track of key individuals, segment your lists and target the audiences that you want to reach – and the ones that you don't.

Status categories may include a number of different types of classifications. For instance, you might want to track types of Clients such as current Clients, former Clients, top Clients or at risk Clients. You might also want to keep up with prospects who the attorneys may be targeting and who could someday become Clients. Additionally, you may to categorize other contacts who can help you to bring in Clients such as referral sources like accountant or bankers. These groups of contacts are the people who you want to keep in contact with on a regular basis, share information with or invite to firm events.

Then there are the contacts who you categorize to make sure that you don't share firm information with them or invite them to events. These might include adversaries or competitors. Judges might also fall into this category. You might also be sure to categorize personal contacts to prevent them from being included in the CRM system at all.

Then there are more innocuous categories you can use to make it easy to find certain people or companies when you need them. For instance, you may want to categorize different types of experts or vendors that the firm uses frequently. You may also assign a category to other types of businesses that may be in the system such as restaurants, hotels or clubs. All of these categories make it easier or more efficient for the attorneys and staff to do their jobs and accomplish firm goals. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 4:The Troops

Of course, the most important factor when it comes to winning or losing the business development battle is your troops. They must be loyal, courageous, dedicated and prepared.

You also must be careful to select the right troops. Different battles require different deployments. For some, you may need a small army of foot soldiers. For instance, when responding to an RFP or when a potential Client has a project that requires attorneys from multiple practices or specialties, you may want to send in a pitch team. Other battles may call for an army of one. You may move in a lone sniper who rarely misses, armed with information and ideas, when the Client needs laser-focused expertise for an unusual or unique situation.

In other situations, it may be more effective to engage a few top soldiers who are highly trained in special operations. These special forces would be called up when a Client has ‘bet the company’ litigation or a complex deal that simply must go precisely as planned. Situations like these require the best of the best, attorneys whose skills are unquestioned and unequaled.

But no matter how you may choose to deploy your business development troops, one thing is crucial: they must be well trained.  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Categorizing CRM Contacts - Location, Location, Location

Another type of category you may want to include is location. A location category can help to ensure that the right messages reach the right contacts. 

For instance, some firms like to include categories for the offices that a particular contact works with most frequently. That way, when the office has an event, they can be sure to invite those Clients. This is also important because sometimes you may deal with contacts who live in one place, but work for a company that is in another. You may not want to invite the Yankees fans to the Braves game. Location categories can help to prevent that. 

Additionally, some firms want to be able to categorize contacts with all of the locations in which they do business. For instance, a company may be headquartered in one state,  but may have operations in several states across the country. As a result, they may be interested in legal updates or alerts for multiple locations. If you search only by the company main address when you send the email, you might miss the opportunity to provide information - and possibly legal services - to  those Clients. But if you add a category for all of their regional locations, you can make sure they get the targeted information for each state.

Other firms take location categorization to another level by utilizing software to convert zip codes to specific counties or regions. For instance, you might be having an event in Atlanta, but because the population is so spread out, you also would want to invite people in the surrounding cities or counties. As with many other things, CRM success sometimes really is all about location.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 3: Intel

Planning for the business development battle starts by gathering intel. You need to do your homework to gain a keen understanding your Clients and prospects, your adversaries – and even your own troops.

One way to begin gathering intel is to do research. Find out all you can about your Clients' and prospects’ businesses and industries. Are they expanding or contracting? Are they hiring employees or laying them off. Are they adding new locations or closing them? Are they moving forward or backward? Are they developing new products or services or acquiring them through purchases? Are they content with their current locations or entering new markets? Do they want to be regional, national or global? Are they targeting new companies for acquisitions - or might they be potential targets themselves?

So why is this intel so important? Why do we care about these things? Because each one often involves issues or challenges that may require legal services - and each represents an opportunity to help the Clients or prospects - and ultimately develop business. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Categorizing CRM Contacts - Target Practices

When you are trying to target key groups, it can also be beneficial to categorize your contacts by firm practice area or group. This type of category can be helpful if you want to enhance communications with Clients of a certain practice or if you want to focus on cross selling between practices. 

How many times recently have you been asked by an partner to pull a list of the firm’s Healthcare or Energy Clients because the firm is suddenly looking to expand in an area that is particularly ‘hot’? Or maybe you are trying to induce a new lateral or group of attorneys to come on board, but first they want to see the firm’s top Clients in their particular practice specialty. Or maybe it's as simple as the attorneys can't believe that you can't quickly and easily pull a list of key contacts to invite to the labor and employment seminar. 

If these types of request are next to impossible, then this type of categorization makes absolute sense. 
Remember, one of the best ways to really improve your aim at your key targets is to ‘practice.’