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The Key to CRM is Tracking Relationships

The Key to CRM is Tracking Relationships

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools for professional service firms ought to track relationships – who knows whom– as opposed to tracking products.  So says Kayte Steinert-Threlkeld, the chief marketing officer for Berdon LLP, a top 35 accounting firm based in Manhattan.

Relationships  trump everything in business development, an aspect perhaps unique for professional services firms, including accounting, law, engineering and architecture firms. In addition to facing an ultra-competitive job market, Ms. Steinert-Threlkeld says a major hurdle facing Berdon and other accounting firms is fee compression from clients. As a result of this, she’s always looking for tools to help the firm become more efficient. In other words, she needs solutions to help the firm do things better and faster.

she doesn’t consider the InterAction solution a legal product…instead, she views it as a relationship tool

Her firm uses LexisNexis® InterAction®, a CRM product perhaps better known in large law firm circles than in accounting.  However, Ms. Steinert-Threlkeld said she doesn’t consider the InterAction solution a legal product. Instead, she views it as a relationship tool.

Unlike other widely-used  CRM solutions she’s encountered in the accounting field, which track irrelevant information related to shipping dates and product quantities, the InterAction tool captures real touch points between people, which she admits, is invaluable in the accounting profession.

“If we can’t closely track and manage our referral sources and prospects, then we are doomed to failure,” she says.

Ms. Steinert-Threlkeld says a big part of the firm’s continued success comes from having a centralized view of the firm’s customer history in the CRM database. This ensures the firm never loses sight of prospective business in the pipeline. Another added benefit of having all of the information in one place, she says, is the information can be sliced, diced and used in many different ways and shared among all partners.

According to marketing and business development experts focusing on the process a prospective customer goes through before making a purchasing decision is vital to success in business development.

Ms. Steinert-Threlkeld is such a proponent of the CRM system that she lobbied for expanded funding to buy the opportunities module when she joined Berdon more than two years ago. Prior to that, she implemented InterAction at her former accounting firm as well.

In her role as CMO, she believes it is her responsibility to shop the market and introduce new tools and products to make the firm more competitive. We’ll take that as a good stamp of approval.

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Photo credit: Flickr, slgckgc (CC BY 2.0)

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.