Note: This post was originally published on another LexisNexis blog that has long since been retired and is now otherwise inaccessible. A 2014 ILTA Conference session Making CRM Work in a Law Firm, reminded us of this post and we decided to republish it now.
Chris Fritsch, JD, lives and breathes law firm CRM, given her work as a CRM Success Consultant with CLIENTSFirst Consulting. Her experience has also made her quite precise – at least with respect to a line of questioning about business problems technology can solve.
This became apparent in a phone interview with Fritsch earlier this week where she took a broad question and narrowed it down: Instead of looking for techniques to get attorneys to use a CRM system, Fritsch suggests we look for ways that the whole law firm can work together to get value from their CRM system. One way is to facilitate the tracking of business development activities.
Fritsch says many firms may find the tracking of this type of information to be valuable for coordination of business development efforts. However, because of the culture in most firms, she believes only in rare circumstances can the tracking of business development activities be mandated, so other options must be considered. One way she says this can be accomplished is to delegate the responsibility to someone tasked with supporting business development function in the firm like someone in marketing or business development.
“Some attorneys are billing hundreds or even thousands of dollars per hour – their time is literally money,” Ms. Fritsch said. “It can be simply more efficient and effective to have someone else enter the data.”
Is the rainmaking model at odds with CRM?
Is sharing information about contacts at odds with the rainmaking model of law firm business development? Not anymore. It might have been true in the past but Ms. Fritsch thinks the recession accelerated the need to share information and changed the paradigm.
“Law firms are increasingly focused on cross-selling – to do that you have to share relationship information,” she said.
As an industry, instead of thinking about “my clients,” lawyers need to think in terms of “the firm’s clients.”
Best Practices: Rules of Engagement
Ms. Fritsch has also seen some firms implement “business development rules of engagement” to ensure the entire firm is working with the same ground rules. Such guidelines require or suggest that the CRM tool be part of the research process in any business development activity.
“Before picking up that phone or responding that pitch request, you need to look the contact up in the CRM system to see if there may be an existing relationship,” she said. “If there is, then call that person first; if someone else has a stronger relationship, they can help by making an introduction.”
Such guidelines can help firms avoid some pitfalls such as pitching a prospect that is already a client in another practice area or helping to avoid having multiple groups from the same law firm pitching the same client in an uncoordinated manner.
Ultimately, says Ms. Fritsch, the key to success isn’t about getting a few more people to use the tool – it’s about understanding how the tool can better improve the entire organization.
Photo credit: Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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