The Perfect Partner/Provider
The beauty of technology is that it can do so many things. The problem with technology is… it can do so many things. But for technology to succeed, it has to satisfy a need. So, it can be a mistake to fall for any type of technology too quickly. Frequently, firms get infatuated with the latest and greatest software without fully investigating other options, or more importantly, really understanding their unique requirements.
Because each firm is unique, technology selection should start with a needs assessment. Interviews should be conducted with key stakeholders to determine how the technology can really help them. It’s important to focus on people, processes and problems first and products second. Additionally, this type of open dialogue can have the added benefit of getting users engaged in the process early on.
Even after a firm has a grasp on the technology requirements, finding a good partner isn’t always easy. While the types of software offerings and number of eligible providers has increased exponentially in recent years, the technology still sometimes gets a cool reception. Lawyers express frustration that the tools being offered just aren’t a good match for a number of reasons such as:
- Complicated interfaces
- Siloed systems
- Access issues
- Too many required fields
- Duplicative data entry
To win over attorneys, providers have to offer more than just bells and whistles. They have to be willing to invest in the relationship, taking the time to understand the firm and attorney’s unique needs. This way, providers can focus on offering real value and keeping attorneys from being distracted by other pursuits (like billing time). They should also solicit feedback to continuously improve both the software and the relationship. Most importantly, they should provide superlative service and long-term support.
Once a provider has been selected, and their proposal has been accepted, there is still some due diligence that should be done before getting the licenses or subscription. Before jumping in too quickly, invest the time to really get to know the provider/partner. Check references to see how their past relationships have fared (as the saying goes: trust… but verify.) Ask open-ended questions to elicit a helpful dialogue. A reference checking sheet can be useful to make sure you ‘pop’ all the right questions. Also inquire about who else it could be good to speak with. This is where you can tap into one of the best benefits of LMA: the ability to exchange information and support each other.
Another way to ensure that both parties stay together is to negotiate a mutually beneficial technology agreement. A well-crafted contract should be fair and balanced and include protections for both parties. It’s also sometimes advisable to include an ‘out’ clause to ensure that any possible ‘break-up’ will be amicable.
Read Part 1 in the series “Engagement: Getting Lawyers to Commit to Marketing Technology.”
Chris Fritsch is a Business Development Technology Success Consultant and the Founder of CLIENTSFirst Consulting. For more than a decade, her team of almost 100 consultants and other professionals has been helping law firms and other organizations successfully select and implement business development technology to maximize value, adoption and return on investment. If you need help achieving CRM or eMarketing success, please contact us at 404-249-9914 or Info@CLIENTSFirstConsulting.com.