Sometimes, when you are trying diligently to get to your ultimate CRM destination, the temptation can be to really ‘put the pedal to the metal’ and try to get there as quickly as possible. The problem is that when you speed through your CRM rollout, you may end up running out of gas before you get where you want to go– or you may find your team’s motivation levels ‘on empty.’
So slow down there, lead foot. CRM isn’t a race. It’s not about getting to the finish line as quickly as possible – especially since the journey is never really finished.
While focusing on your ultimate CRM destination is, of course, important, it can also be beneficial to check out the scenery along the way. In your CRM planning, recognize that you need to take a little time to smell the CRM ‘roses’ and relish your successes to ensure the journey is sweet.
Mark the Milestones in Your CRM Planning
There are a lot of points of interest that can be…well, interesting. You may even want to plan in advance what sights you want to see. Think about what made you want to embark on the CRM journey in the first place.
Sometimes when you are on your CRM journey, you may get turned around. You may even feel like you have lost sight of your destination. It can seem as though you’ve passed the same landmarks over and over again without making any real progress. You may even get so dizzy or disoriented that you don’t know which way to go next.
At times like these, one of the things that can really help you stay on the right path is a good compass. By this I mean someone who you can turn to for guidance along the way.
CRM Rollout is a Winding Road
But what you will often discover is that you may have to drastically alter both your expectations and your course. You might start out planning to go in one direction initially, but soon find out that you are moving in a completely different direction – or even doing a complete 180.
With CRM, one minute can seem like smooth sailing.
If you don’t know where you are going, how in the world will you know when you get there? This is some sage CRM success advice. This is also the reason that for every CRM journey – from international adventures such as a full-scale firm-wide roll-out, to simpler treks like CRM enhancements, upgrades or data projects – you are going to need a good map or CRM plan.
Of course, because CRM is a journey – and one that never really ends – you can’t really ever hope to ‘get there.’ But without a map, you won’t even know whether you are making progress.
It’s always more fun to travel with a friend, so you may want to invite some CRM users and other folks along for the ride. CRM is a team sport. Trying to go it alone is not only incredibly painful – it’s impossible.
Get key people in the marketing department involved. During the rollout you will want their help with things like planning, communications and training. After the rollout you will need them to be involved in ongoing meetings with the attorneys to answer questions and help them grasp how CRM could actually be a business tool that can help to bring in clients – rather than just a glorified Rolodex.
So what should you pack for your journey to CRM success? First I would start with some patience. CRM success is rarely instantaneous, and if you are in a hurry to see immediate results, you are often going to be sadly disappointed.
Next I would bring along a positive attitude. Being successful with CRM requires changing behavior and attitudes, which can be challenging, so it’s essential that you lead by example by being upbeat and optimistic. That may not always be easy, but it certainly will make the journey more pleasant for everyone involved. Remember no one likes to fight on a long trip –
I recently heard someone comment that CRM is a journey, not a trip. Truer words were never spoken.
As many of my Clients will tell you, I am fond of saying that CRM is not a project, an initiative or a rollout – it’s a fundamental change in the way that your firm manages and leverages its relationships. And these relationships are essential to the success of the firm. This, therefore, makes CRM essential to the success of the firm. That’s a pretty thought-provoking syllogism… well, almost.
This also means that you can’t think of your CRM journey as something that will ever really ‘end.’ It will be a necessary and even essential element of the firm’s success and growth.
As your CRM implementation ‘grows up,’ there are a whole lot more numbers or CRM metrics that become important. You have to keep your system healthy as it becomes more ‘mature. You certainly don’t want your CRM getting ‘age spots’… or losing its ‘vision.’
As your implementation reaches a ripe old age, which can be as early as 3 to 5 years after the rollout (CRM ‘years’ are a bit like ‘dog’ years that way) you have to make sure it gets a regular physical to keep it in shape and make sure it doesn’t lose its ‘muscle.’ You should run all the necessary tests to make sure it is still providing the firm and attorneys with value and ROI.
The CRM success goals you set should be measurable, achievable and agreed upon by the firm’s key CRM stakeholders. They should also be relevant. In a law firm, that means saving time, solving problems or, best of all, increasing revenue. Most importantly, they should be limited in number. If you try to keep too many CRM success “balls” in the air, you will often end up dropping them all.
Here are some relevant goals that I’ve seen firms set – and achieve:
- Clean up just one list for an upcoming mailing or event – and then another – and another
- Categorize a group of contacts such as competitors or vendors to avoid inadvertently inviting them to the next event Get one business development focused Practice Group to enter their reimbursable BD activities with prospects
- Print reports of marketing activities with top Clients to share at the monthly client team meeting
- Input industry information or codes for the firm’s top 100 (or 200 or 500) clients so that lists can be generated for industry-focused publications or events
- Build an expert witness database for the litigation group
- Create some specialized fields for firm personnel records to track languages,
To really achieve results and ROI with CRM, you have to put metrics in place to enhance and track success. It’s a fact that what gets measured gets done. As an added benefit, achieving goals can give everyone involved a feeling of accomplishment so they appreciate that the project is progressing and their time and money hasn’t been wasted.
But the worst thing you can do is to set unrealistic goals or CRM metrics – what some people call “stretch goals.” In my experience, people who like to combine those two words are often the same ones who make unrealistic demands to get a challenging project accomplished in an impractical amount of time with insufficient resources.
CRM Success is not a zero-sum game. By definition, in a zero-sum game, the sum of the winnings and losses of the various players is always zero. Basically, it’s winner-take-all.
In contrast, if the CRM Success game is played right, everyone wins. The attorneys get more Clients, the firm makes more money, the Clients get better service, and the Marketing Department and CRM manager get to keep their jobs. The problem is figuring out how to play the game… especially when there are no written rules. This is where some game strategy can come in handy.
At Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to resist a few candy references. So, as the rollout progresses, you may think you have this CRM project licked. In fact, you may even start to think that sweet success is so close you can taste it. You’ve gotten the hard parts out of the way: The end users are on board. The installation is done. The invoice is paid. Now you think it’s all downhill from here, right?
Not always. What you may not have considered is that as more and more users are rolled out, all the new information pouring into the system can actually gum things up.
There are also some good numbers that can be used as proxies for CRM success and progress, especially during the initial stages of a CRM rollout. This is a time when it can be a bit premature to try to count actual Clients or dollars in the door. But, at the same time, we may also have to deal with the reality that sometimes the people who just wrote that big check for the system may have slightly less-than-reasonable expectations – like thinking that once the system has been installed, money should start falling from the sky.