Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So Many CRM Categories... So Now What?

So now that we’ve identified so many ways to use CRM categories, your head may be spinning as you try to figure out what to do next. On the one hand, the great thing about CRM is that it can do so many things. On the other hand, the challenge with CRM is… that it can do so many things.

In fact, there are so many things that CRM can do that it really can be challenging to figure out what it should do. You also need to be careful not to try to do too much because you may actually end up not doing anything really well. As with any many things, CRM success requires focus.

CRM success also requires planning. You have to make sure that the projects you undertake have real value for your firm and attorneys and that you have the resources in place to execute them. But CRM success also requires initiative. Once you your plan in place, you have to make things happen. Then, once you get started, CRM success will require momentum. You have to keep things moving forward because if you stop, it can be hard to get things going again.

Finally, CRM success requires persistence. Remember, Client Relationship Management isn't a project or an initiative – it’s a fundamental change in the way your firm manages relationships. Progress is a never-ending process. The good news is that once you do, it can really help your firm enhance communication, coordination, Client service and business development.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 6: The Drill Instructor

Basic training focuses on general business development skills and information that is essential for all recruits to understand before moving into the field. However, as with any type of training, up to 75% of this knowledge can be lost without the addition of regular one-on-one follow up coaching. This is where the individual battles are won or lost.

Finding the right instructor can enhance individual business development results exponentially. A good drill instructor or coach can help the troops to take the basic business development information and put it work for them to achieve their business development objectives.

So who makes the best instructor or coach? The drill instructor for business development bootcamp can be an internal staff ‘sergeant’ or an external coach– or a combination. Many attorneys feel that an outside consultant is often the best fit because of the sometimes-personal nature of the coaching relationship and the level of confidentially that can be maintained. 

Often having a variety of different styles or types of coaches can be beneficial to ensure that you find the best fit for each of your troops. Ultimately a good drill instructor or coach can be the difference between advancing on the business development battlefield… or retreating. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So Many CRM Categories, So Little Time

Since categories make it easier to segment and reach key Clients, it would seem like the more categories you have, the better, right? Not necessarily. 

With categories, sometimes less really is more. You don't want to give people too many choices. In fact, one firm decided to make it mandatory that before a new matter was opened, the assistant had to pick from a huge list of NAICS industry codes when entering a Client into the CRM. They were later amazed to discover that they were working with literally thousands of Accounting firm Clients. I’m sure this was the result of a very focused business development effort to target accounting firms and had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that ‘A’ just happened to be at the top of their enormous industry code list.
On the other hand, one category may not be enough. Another firm assigned practice area categories their contacts. This meant that most of the people who were known by the labor and employment group had been assigned that category. However, they were not further broken in to status types to describe their relationship to the firm. As a result, several labor leaders who happened to be in the database were almost invited to a seminar aimed at preventing union organization in the workplace. Not a comfortable position to be in. So when it comes to categories, you really have to be strategic and make sure you find a happy medium. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Winning the Business Development Battle Part 5: Basic Training

Business development basic training for your troops should be done early and often. While it’s almost never too soon to begin training in the basics of business development, attorneys who have been practicing 4 years or more tend to make excellent recruits. 

The first element of basic training should involve getting the attorneys ‘over the wall.’ In other words, they need to know that business development begins by getting out of the building and getting face-to -face with Clients and prospects.  

‘Corps’ business development training should then begin with Client calisthenics. These workouts may include researching Clients and potential Clients to better understand their businesses and industries and learning to ask questions to help identify Client needs that they may be able to help with. The top candidates may then advance to a 'ropes' course where they get to learn the ropes of their Clients’ businesses by visiting their offices, meeting their key contacts, attending their meetings or events - or even doing a secondment. There is no better business development tool than spending time learning all you can about your Clients.  

Focusing on regular, ongoing training exercises will not only underscore the importance of business development to the firm, it will also demonstrate the firm’s commitment to the attorneys’ continuous development and growth, which can help in retaining top talent. After basic training, ongoing refresher courses should continue regularly to keep all attorneys in their best possible condition. Additionally, while training is crucial, even more important is regular one-on-one personalized instruction…