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Seven Secrets for Driving CRM Adoption Success – Part 1


Are your professionals using the CRM system? If not, it’s time for a new approach to gaining adoption. These tips can help your team see value and benefits in CRM – and may get them to use it.  

CRM isn’t easy. There can be a lot of challenges – from selecting the right system to rolling it out effectively, to integration with other systems, to maintaining system data quality. But one of the most common – and critical – pain points experienced by most firms – and, in fact, most organizations – is low CRM adoption.

In the past, CRM adoption was gauged by whether we could get a majority of the attorneys to actually access the system on a regular basis. Sounds like an obvious definition, right? But after more than 20 years of firms trying and, more often than not, failing to get (or nudge, entice, induce, coax, cajole, incentivize and even beg) their attorneys to use the CRM to enter contacts, activities or other important information, it just hasn’t happened.

So, after 15 years of working together with hundreds of top firms, we believe it may just be time for a new – and more realistic – definition of adoption. To define and achieve CRM success in professional services firms, we propose that CRM adoption should now be measured by the value that the firm and attorneys get from the system.

But how should we define this value? Here are seven tips to help you gauge and/or get more value from your CRM investment:

Manage Expectations 

Respected researchers suggest that up to 70% of CRM implementations fail to meet expectations. What they don’t tell you is that often it’s because the expectations are wrong.  It’s important to understand attorneys’ expectations of CRM – and then manage those expectations with reality checks as needed.

Communicate and Educate 

Training and communications are critical to success. Don’t just focus on features and functions. Instead educate and communicate how the system can help to solve problems, automate processes, enhance business development efforts and make everyone’s lives easier.

Strategy Before Selection 

Often firms are unaware that to achieve success they need to develop a CRM strategy before selecting a CRM system. Selecting the right technology requires a thorough assessment of firm and attorney needs and requirements. Additionally, goals should be defined and metrics for success established. Only then should you go CRM shopping.

Don’t Forget Key Constituencies 

While key partners and other firm leaders are important, don’t overlook these other critical groups who can contribute to the firm’s CRM success:

  • Admins/Secretaries… often serve as proxies for the attorneys and frequently do the heavy lifting with contact data and list management. Get them involved early and often. Show them how CRM can make their lives easier, and you will win them over – and you may even win over their attorneys as well. 
  • Associates… are often younger and more engaged in technology than senior attorneys. They are the future of the firm, and CRM is a tool that can help them contribute and be more successful. As a smart managing partner once told us, “We may not get all the partners to use the CRM, but we are going to require associate participation because then, in a few years, we won’t have adoption problems because using the system will be part of our firm culture or DNA.”
  • Laterals… sometimes come from firms that are larger or more tech savvy, and they bring their past CRM experience – and expectations – with them. If your firm wants to get, and keep, a competitive edge, you must provide them with the technology they need to identify relationships and cross-selling opportunities.

If you liked these tips, read Part 2 of “Seven Secrets for Driving CRM Adoption Success.”


For more than a decade, the team at CLIENTSFirst Consulting has been helping professional services firms and other organizations successfully select and implement CRM and eMarketing systems and improve Data Quality to maximize value, adoption and return on investment. If you need help achieving CRM Success, please contact us at 404-249-9914 or

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