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What Are the First Four Steps to CRM Success?


A CRM system is the foundation of any successful legal marketing and business development team. This tool allows the firm to efficiently manage and nurture relationships with clients and prospects, but there is an ongoing — and growing — disconnect across firms related to the technology.

According to the 2024 Thomson Reuters Marketing Partner Forum Survey, of all the tools in the marketing mix, CRM was considered “not effective at all.” As a CRM Success Consultant for almost 20 years, we are not shocked by this.

We have been preaching, time and time again that nearly 70% of all CRM implementations fail to meet expectations. And if your firm has experienced a failed CRM implementation, you will not rank it as effective (again, shocking, I know.)

Yet, a successful CRM implementation, supported by the right strategy and plan, can provide significant value to the marketing and business development teams and ultimately enhance firm growth and revenue.

So what are three steps you can follow to ensure that your CRM system is implemented properly and is providing real value to your end users? Chris Fritsch goes over four easy steps you can follow to ensure your firm achieves CRM success:

1. Strategic CRM Success Assessment

The first step toward CRM success is assessing your organization’s needs and requirements. Detailed interviews should be conducted with key stakeholders to gain insight into your priorities and goals, and create a success strategy and plan customized to the firm’s needs. This assessment will provide you with crucial information to guide CRM selection, planning, implementation, and adoption. The Assessment can also reveal potential CRM opportunities you can capitalize on during the implementation, like new ways to utilize the system and challenges that you may face. Your findings should be the foundation of your plan and strategy as they will best align the features and functionality with the end user’s requirements.

2. CRM System Selection Assistance

Acquiring a CRM involves a significant investment of critical and limited resources including money, time, and credibility, so selecting the right system and provider is essential. This is why it is important to fully document your requirements in what we like to call a ‘demo roadmap’ to make sure you are well-prepared before reaching out to providers. This two to three page document lays out all the details from the needs assessment and can help determine the best vendors for consideration.

As CRM Success Consultants we have a deep knowledge and understanding of all the major CRM providers, and without a demo roadmap, system demonstrations can get out of hand. The roadmap not only determines the best vendors but guides demonstrations and keeps the focus on relevant features and functionality while avoiding irrelevant ‘bells and whistles.’ We also recommend creating a scorecard to objectively evaluate systems and providers because after multiple demonstrations, it can be difficult to remember the unique attributes of each.

For larger firms, it can also be a good idea to create a comprehensive request for proposal (RFP) that articulates the organization’s exact CRM needs and requirements. This RFP can then be distributed to selected CRM vendors whose responses will be evaluated and compared to other providers to determine the most suitable provider according to your organization’s budget and terms.

3. Strategic CRM Planning and Goal Setting

To truly achieve CRM success, you have to have a plan in place. This plan should not only cover the initial stages of the CRM implementation like the rollout, training curriculum, and communication strategy, but also long-term initiatives like data quality maintenance, additional integrations and training new employees. This plan should be tied to your strategy and be centered around the initial goals you set out to achieve. Be sure to set measurable and achievable goals so you know when you’ve reached a milestone. Once a goal is achieved, communicate these successes — no matter how small — as sharing wins can help enhance adoption and enthusiasm surrounding the CRM project.

4. Don’t Do It Alone

Achieving CRM success can be extremely difficult. Most people have never been through the process before and few want to repeat it. So, remember, you do not have to go through it alone. At CLIENTSFirst Consulting, we have helped hundreds of professional service firms achieve success no matter where they are in their CRM life cycle. From helping conduct detailed interviews with key stakeholders and identifying new ways that CRM can be utilized at firms, to synthesizing requirements into a ‘roadmap’ helping guide system demonstrations, CLIENTSFirst can help.

If you need help achieving CRM Success, CLIENTSFirst Consulting is here to help. For nearly 20 years, 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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