Note: the following is a guest post from Deborah Dobson
In today’s competitive legal market, it is more important than ever to build strong relationships in order to create opportunities. There are more law firms competing for less work, more work being done in-house and procurement entering the game.
While legal tends to lag behind in technology adoption, it is critical for firms to adopt and embrace a Client Relationship Management system (CRM) in order to compete. CRM is the technology that helps a firm better understand and manage the relationships with clients, prospects and referral sources. Since 2001, I have launched, re-launched and helped law firms with CRM implementation. Through these implementations, I’ve learned what critical factors are necessary for a successful implementation.
1. Law Firm Management Buy-In. In my opinion, this is the most important factor in determining whether your CRM implementation will be a success or failure. Law firm management must understand how important it is for the firm to have a high rate of adoption. It is important not to rush through this process. I mentioned in a previous CRM article that a successful technology implementation relies on changing the culture of an organization. Changing a law firm’s culture relies on management support.
2. Continuous Training and Education. It is best to offer training slowly and over time to not overwhelm users. A CRM is a robust program with many features. The initial training should provide a foundation about why it is important for the firm and the benefits of using it. I like to do an initial training and then follow up trainings as attorneys and staff begin working in the program. Each new attorney and staff member receives one-on-one training which allows me to get to know their learning style, concerns and level of interest.
Also see these related posts:
A List of 15 People that Can Make or Break a Law Firm
The Key to CRM is Tracking Relationships
9 Creative CRM Tips for Getting Lawyers to Share Data
3. What’s In It for Me? Attorney adoption is quicker when attorneys understand how the CRM technology will help them with their business development. If they don’t see a benefit to themselves, they are going to be reluctant to adopt the system. My initial one-on-one session helps me better understand what is most important for the individual I’m training, which allows me to follow up with features that will help the attorney reach their business goals.
4. Attorney Stories. Marketing professionals can tell the attorney how a CRM will help them with their marketing and business development, but nothing is more effective than an attorney telling other attorneys how helpful and useful the CRM has been for them. For example, if an attorney uses the email merge feature to easily send personalized emails to a group of contacts and a contact responds with an opportunity, upon hearing the story other attorneys will want to learn how to do the same.
A successful CRM implementation can give your law firm a competitive advantage. But, it is important to take your time through the process. Start by getting management buy-in. Then be deliberate and thoughtful in training attorneys and staff, keeping in mind the different learning curves or adoption rates you will encounter. Being patient through the process will yield good adoption throughout the firm which will benefit not only each attorney, but the firm overall.
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