So what kind of numbers or CRM metrics might make sense? Ideally, you want to find ones that are particularly relevant to the attorneys and the firm. Often these will be numbers that are frequently preceded by a dollar sign – ones that relate directly to top line revenue or enhanced growth opportunities, like:
- Increased opportunities for business development
- Increases in revenue from key Clients
- Increases in newly discovered relationships
- Increases in cross selling opportunities between practices and attorneys
- Increases in referral business
Then there are CRM metrics related to dollars saved,
While it’s easy to portray business development as a battle – with the Clients as targets to be won over and your competition as the enemy standing in the way, this is a simplistic outlook. In reality, sometimes the enemy is us. We let our own issues or shortcomings limit our business development potential.
For instance, we may make excuses for not committing the necessary time to developing business. We tell ourselves we are just too busy. Well guess what: while you are busy being busy, there are plenty of other attorneys out there who will commit the time and do the work instead of making excuses – and they are likely talking to your Clients.
When people who are tasked with responsibilities for CRM systems are asked to define success, many words come to mind — words like challenging, demanding, difficult, stressful, time-consuming… painful, impossible, unattainable… changing jobs, retiring, quitting, outa here… It can be enough to have you contemplating the view from your office ledge.
Come down off that ledge. With just a little help, you may find yourself jumping for joy instead. Realistically, CRM success shouldn’t evoke feelings of pain or frustration. Instead, the thought of CRM success can actually bring you a sense of inner calm and peace – even a feeling of achievement or accomplishment.
While there are many people who can aid and assist your troops in their business development (BD) battles, it is imperative to have the support of strong and effective ‘generals’. This is why it is crucial that the managing partners, chairmen and other firm leaders be actively involved in any BD campaign.
Their leadership roles may involve many facets. Great leaders should be unwavering in their support for business development and the troops. They should measure and reward positive advances. They should also encourage and publicly praise individuals and accomplishments. While this may seem like an obvious or minor thing to do,
If at first you don’t succeed at CRM… so then what? Should you just give up? Throw in the proverbial technology towel? Admit defeat and go look for a job doing something easier – like maybe becoming a lion tamer or a crash test dummy? No, don’t even think about it.
You should never give up, because it’s never too late for CRM success. Besides, you are not alone. There are plenty of firms who have had failed CRM rollout attempts. In fact, research suggests that 50% to 80% of CRM systems may fail.
Business development battles cannot be won without dedicated and motivated troops. But motivating attorneys to develop business can sometimes be challenging. Many attorneys went to law school specifically because they didn’t want to ‘sell.’ Just the mention of selling can evoke thoughts of a loud used-car salesman in a bad plaid jacket trying to overcome objections and ‘close’ a deal. That is not a motivator, by any means.
Sometimes the best way to motivate your attorneys to develop business is to use counterintelligence, because what makes a great business developer can sometimes be counterintuitive. While initially it may seem to some attorneys that they need to ‘sell’ themselves to develop business,
When it comes to CRM success, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are, however, some almost universal ways to fail. Trying to roll out the software to everyone in the firm all at once is one good way. Trying to get the lawyers to sit through point-and-click classroom training is another. Also good: trying to deploy every bell and whistle, feature and function during the initial rollout. These are some sure-fire ways to create frustration – and maybe even cause a minor mutiny among the key stakeholders. Ask any of the firms who have done these things –
Alas, you are not going to win every business development battle. It can be daunting to put yourself out there in the field, face-to-face with Clients and prospects, who may either accept or reject your advances. While most of them will not be outright hostile, it’s a fact that some of them are going to say ‘no.’ And when this happens, it can be tempting to retreat… to pull back and set up camp in your office, safely barricaded behind your desk. But that is the wrong battle strategy.
As confident as we attorneys appear, it’s really hard for most of us to take rejection.
Arguably, the most important thing a CRM system can help a law firm with is business development – attracting and retaining top Clients. This is the reason a lot of firms invest in CRM systems in the first place. Actually, this is the reason a lot of firms do a lot of the things they do.
The problem is that, after the fact, those same firms often complain that their CRM systems are not providing a return on their investments. The reason has less to do with the CRM technology and more to do with the fact that the system either isn’t being used properly – or at all – or that the firm hasn’t found a way to adequately measure ROI.
No matter how great an army of seasoned business development veterans you may have at your firm, they will always be more effective when they have reinforcements. In the law firm, the group that is tasked with backing up the business development troops is the Marketing Department. They provide the air cover to help ensure that the business development battles on the ground are successful.
These loyal and dedicated members of your business development army can help to provide whatever the troops need to be effective. They can start by helping to draw up business development battle plans.
Sure, there are plenty of stories about CRM failures. But in reality, when rolled out successfully, CRM has tremendous potential. It can actually help a firm to improve communication, coordination and Client service. If you think long and hard about it, I bet you’ll have trouble coming up with a list of really important stuff we do in a law firm that doesn’t involve at least one of those things. That’s because law firms are relationship businesses and relationships take a lot of all of the above.
Here are just a few of the things CRM can help us do:
- We can de-duplicate our contact lists so we don’t send the same people multiple communications.
To win the business development battle, you first have to make sure you are aiming at the right targets. Each one you miss wastes valuable, and limited, business development time and resources. As a result, the most effective targeting involves aiming at the targets that you have the best chance of hitting.
Start with your current Clients. Presumably they are already your allies, since they are currently writing you checks. To effectively develop more business with existing Clients, first prepare a plan of attack. Identify areas where they have needs that are not currently being served by your firm.
In the past, you may have heard stories about CRM failures, disasters and unmet expectations. CRM has been branded as an over-hyped, overpriced technology with poor adoption and little or no ROI. It’s rotten to the core. In fact, some people have even proclaimed that CRM is dead.
In reality, CRM success is more of an apple and tree issue. It’s way too easy to blame CRM failure on the technology. Usually when CRM fails to meet expectations, the problem is not about the technology at all. It’s about the expectations:
- Firms install CRM systems and suddenly expect them to solve world hunger – or at least help to feed all the hungry associates and other attorneys who need more work but have been unable or unwilling to focus on business development.
To be relevant for business development, the skills learned in basic training must be put into action. This is why it is crucial that well trained troops be deployed to the field as soon as possible. In other words, they need to get out from behind their desks and go see the Clients. These are the marching orders for any successful business developer.
Let’s face it: we all know that we didn’t really learn to practice law in law school. So why would anyone expect to be a natural born business developer? Being good at business development takes practice.
Well, sometimes it is the little things you do each day that really contribute to CRM success: taking a half hour to train new users at their desks, working with an assistant on formatting a letter, attending a practice group meeting to better understand how CRM could help the attorneys achieve their business development goals, communicating small wins to the entire firm. These little things really do add up.