Does your firm have a Relationship Action Plan? Leadership and collaboration expert Keith Ferrazzi believes every organization needs one. In his bestselling and recently revised book Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi states there is “social capital” potential within your relationships and social networks. Knowing how to cultivate and mine this potential leads to building long-term friendships and higher returns on investment. He writes, “Your network is your destiny, a reality backed up by many studies in the newly emergent fields of social networking and social contagion theory.”
However, many law firms struggle with how to begin to develop a business development or relationship action plan, and who in the firm should maintain clients, attend events, or participate in relevant organizations.
The National Law Review recently published an article entitled Building a Business Development Mindset in Law Firm Associates, Junior and Income Partners. In it, Jason P. Grunfeld, the Head of Business Development and a partner in the firm’s Financial Services group at Kleinberg, Kaplan, Wolff & Cohen, P.C. says, “For most lawyers, the two primary obstacles to business development are fear and lack of time. The fear comes when lawyers are asked to step outside of their comfort zones and engage in new activities. Lack of time causes lawyers to push business development to the back burner, never giving it the chance to mature into a habit.”
In order to successfully cultivate client relationships, you need motivated people and organizational tools. A suggestion for the latter is to implement a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. Stephen Fairley, Founder and CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company, writes of the importance of having a CRM program in his National Law Review article Double your Law Firm’s Lead Conversion Rates with this Proven System: “You really need to have a software system for keeping track of all these incoming leads and where the leads are in the sales cycle. Has the prospect been contacted? Has an appointment been set? Did they come in for a consultation? Did they sign up?”
These sophisticated systems create an instant data source to track client activities and opportunities, as well as forecast revenue. Most programs provide mobile access, allowing instant input of new data as it is captured by individuals at client meetings, events, or conferences. Detailed summaries and client history is captured and saved to be referred to when needed, even after a relationship-builder has left the firm.
So how do you determine whether your mid-market firm requires such a system, and which one do you choose? Here are three key signs your firm might need a CRM system:
1. You’re not sure which clients to contact
It takes more and more time and effort to manage the complex web of client relationships as your firm grows. Keeping track of clients becomes an enormous task and you’re not sure where to begin. This uncertainty typically leads to missed opportunities, partners making mistakes or encountering embarrassing situations around potential clients because they are unaware of previous communications, and poor client service. At its worst, this ambiguity could result in one or more clients moving on from your firm.
A CRM system like LexisNexis® InterAction® captures all client data, including phone calls and meetings with other attorneys in your firm so nothing is missed. You will have a clear picture of the client status at a glance.
2. Communications and marketing campaigns are not proving effective
Each day brings with it a new set of responsibilities and to-do lists, sending marketing and communications efforts to the bottom. Keeping your firm in front of clients is important and could generate new opportunities, but you need time to create targeted campaigns that send the right message. Applying a scattershot approach will lead to time wasted and unopened mail or emails.
Instead, maintain a highly targeted approach with a CRM system. Quickly and easily identify appropriate clients for specific campaigns and save these activities so they can be tracked and analyzed throughout completion. This process will allow you to be successful every time because the next time you need the campaign, you will know the results of your efforts and the client target list will be pulled with one click.
3. Growing the business is challenging
Fairley states, “Lost leads are wasted opportunities. Small law firms lose tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year because they aren’t tracking their leads and quickly following up on them. Mid-sized law firms are losing millions. Lost leads also hurt your reputation with your referral sources if they supplied the referral and your team doesn’t follow through on the lead.”
Implementing a CRM system can shorten your path to successful client wins, and make the management of this data much simpler than a stack of business cards, sticky notes, or spreadsheets. Client relationship-building is not everyone’s cup of tea, however. Introverts, for example, are not the first to volunteer when the opportunity to attend an event or conference pops up. A CRM system like InterAction can make the process easier and more comfortable for everyone because you will be armed with specific details about each client for every single opportunity. Ferrazzi continues: “A relationship-driven career is good for the companies you work for because everyone benefits from your own growth—it’s the value you bring that makes people want to connect with you. You feel satisfaction when both your peers and your organization share in your advancement.”
These three signs are a good starting point for determining whether a CRM system will be an asset for your firm. There are additional factors to consider as well, so create a plan that works for your firm and aligns with your specific goals and expected outcomes.
Grunfeld echoes the importance of staying organized to achieve your business development goals. He says his firm encourages attorneys to “build their own specific list of prospects that they would like to transform into clients—and a system that tracks exactly where they are in the process and the next steps that need to be taken.”
Don’t miss out on opportunities. Take advantage of new technologies that can assist with data collection and shorten the win path. Download the Guidebook for more information: Making a Case for CRM: A Guide for Mid-Sized Firms.