Many people who are recognized as leaders in their sport, field or occupation often attribute a significant portion of their current success to a trainer or coach of some type who helped them achieve more than they ever thought they could. And plenty of couch potatoes can attest that the only thing that finally motivated them to achieve the results they said they wanted was a trainer who pushed them and held them accountable.
A CRM Expert “Trainer” To Lend a Helping Hand
The CRM Treadmill
One of my former colleagues was fond of saying that CRM is like a treadmill. Nobody ever got in shape by just buying one – you have to actually use it.
He’s absolutely right, and for even more reasons. Have you ever shopped for a treadmill? The process can be quite intimidating. They come in all sizes and prices with more features and functions than you can imagine. In fact, if money were no object, you could easily come home with a top-of-the-line unit that boasts not only hands-free speed adjustment (which sounds scary to me) and a 50% incline (for those of you who don’t know exactly what that is, imagine Spider man walking up a wall really, really fast) but also a multi-speaker stereo system, a 7” flat screen TV, an iPod dock, high speed internet, a refrigerated drink holder and a foot-powered personal air conditioning unit (ok, I made those last two up, but wouldn’t that be cool.) And you get all this for just under $10,000. This bad boy will look pretty impressive gathering dust or clothes hangers.
CRM is no different. If you don’t know what you need or want going in, CRM providers have all the shiniest bells and whistles. You can get relationship intelligence, opportunity management, referral tracking, Client team support, strategic account management, financial or H.R. integration, PDA syncing, matter and experience management, a document repository, an alumni database, contact self-verification, taxi-cab reports, competitive and business intelligence, reminders with bells and whistles (literally) and a nifty graphical representation of your business development funnel (imagine an empty ice cream cone – both literally and figuratively for some firms). All for the low, low price of under $500K. Too bad what you really needed was help with mailings and event management.
Don’t get me wrong – all these things are great – but only when utilized to execute a well-planned business development or marketing strategy. Yes, CRM can do a thousand things. That doesn’t mean that it should. To be successful, start with the 2 or 3 things that are essential to helping your firm and professionals achieve their goals.
So, do your homework when shopping for CRM – because if you don’t end up using it, you can’t even hang clothes on it.
Eat Your CRM Vegetables
Since we’ve talked – and walked – about the CRM Treadmill, let’s keep the health-y CRM metaphor rolling.
Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables… whether you liked them or not… because they were good for you… and they’d help you to grow up big and strong. Right? Well it’s the same with CRM.
Sometimes, to achieve CRM success, we have to do things that we don’t like because we know they will ultimately be good for us. Secretaries typically don’t like taking the time to make sure that all of their attorneys’ contacts are correct and complete. Attorneys typically don’t like spending time going through their contacts to decide which ones are private and which should be shared. (Heck, some attorneys don’t like sharing their contacts, period – but that’s a topic for another day). Marketing certainly doesn’t enjoy going through every mailing and event list to make sure that it is accurate – and then having to deal with all the bounced-back communications. And nobody really relishes the ongoing commitment of time, money and other resources that CRM success sometimes takes.
But to succeed with CRM, we do these things because we know that if we commit to do the work and dedicate the time and resources – if we eat our vegetables – we can achieve CRM success… which means we will be more effective in our communication, coordination and Client service… and we will develop more business… and increase firm revenue. And then we can have some ice cream.