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Business Analytics: Far from Home?

If the idea of pulling business intelligence (BI) and analytics from your customer relationship management (CRM) data leaves you feeling like you’re in an unfamiliar place, you’re not alone. But don’t worry—it doesn’t take a CRM superhero to make the most of your data.

However, even superheroes such as Spider-Man find themselves in unfamiliar places, feeling far from home sometimes. In the movie Spider-Man: Far from Home, Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man, just wanted to be a teenager and enjoy his class trip to Europe. When trouble arises and it comes time to fight the villain, he found himself unprepared both mentally and physically. But with the support of Nick Fury and others, Spider-Man is victorious.

When it comes to battling the unfamiliar territory of BI and analytics, you have the support you need built right into your CRM and BI software to conquer any concerns and turn your data into actionable insights. This means implementing marketing and business development efforts that are victorious (just like Spider-Man) and bring in better results. And soon, you are the hero!

Beginning the Journey: Data Collation

CRM tools are an essential platform for any business. Whether you are using a sophisticated tool or simply a Google® account or Microsoft® Outlook®, you are already embarking on the CRM journey of managing your contacts and interactions. Many believe that CRM is just a software tool to help collate customer data, but there is no greater asset to your organization than your customer data. It’s the power source of your CRM strategy, and requires care and nurturing.

According to DiscoverOrg, win rates are roughly 25% higher for organizations that have accurate and clean data, and organizations can generate up to 70% more revenue with marketing efforts based on clean data.

Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben was known for the guiding principle, “With great power comes great responsibility.” When given his superpowers, Peter was not thinking about responsibilities. He did not know what to do first. He needed to learn how to use that power. Before he could fight for the greater good as Spider-Man, Peter Parker had to learn to shoot webs and jump off of that first building.

Similarly, before CRM data can work for the greater good for your firm, it’s essential to build a plan—to know how  to use the power of that data.

On the Journey: CRM Maturity Curve

When CRM is implemented, the first step is to focus on contact management and marketing automation. At a minimum, a CRM system will help you to collect and organize data about your clients and potential clients, provide you with the latest status, automate processes, and make it easy to share information across the firm. Arming you with necessary information, similar to when Peter Parker makes his Spider-Man suit, arming him to become a crime-fighting superhero.

The next step is to understand who your firm’s clients and potential clients are, and who among those are the decision-makers and influencers. Business development is largely about relationships, and relationship selling to decision-makers and influencers is critical to the success of any law or professional services firm.

According to a Gallup study on customer engagement, fully engaged customers bring in 51% higher revenue and sales than disengaged customers. They also spend over 23% more, on average.

These steps are part of a natural CRM progression called the CRM maturity curve (see Figure 1). This curve is a high-level summary of the CRM journey. Several organizations have developed CRM maturity models which, according to BDO Digital, are blueprints for defining your phase in the CRM lifecycle—tools and strategies you need to get to the next level. You can refer to those models to understand the milestones and develop a plan to move to the next phase.

To make CRM truly valuable, continue to move your marketing efforts up the curve to business development, BI, and finally strategic analysis.

Figure 1: CRM Maturity Curve

Villains Along the Journey: Reporting

We are often so focused on collecting, cleaning, and maintaining the data in our CRM that reporting becomes an afterthought. Like the villain in a superhero movie, reporting can become a problem if ignored. We know reporting is always going to be a part of the broader plot, so we should include it in our plans from the beginning.

We need reporting to show us how many readers we have, who is responding to our communications, and who to invite to our events. We also need reporting to show us how effective our marketing and business development efforts are, what activities we should continue to do, and where we may need to reallocate resources.

Let’s take a second look at the CRM maturity curve, this time with reporting (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Maturity Curve Graphic with Reporting

Everything we do in CRM affects how we report, including how we collect and maintain the data, how we manage our processes and record actions and touchpoints, the process and the information we need for business development, and analytics.

Initially, we may build basic reports such as lists of contacts, touchpoints, and relationships. We may also include some summary information such counts and percentages and even build some simple charts using summary information. But simple reports like these don’t provide a full understanding of the business. Just like in Spider-Man: Far from Home, when Peter discovers there’s more to the story than a monstrous villain attacking cities. BI and analytics reveal the true story behind your data.

The Journey Not So Far from Home: Business Intelligence & Analytics

CIO describes BI as a strategy that leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights. These insights can then be used in your firm’s strategic and tactical business decisions. In other words, BI is a way for us to study data to understand trends and gain awareness. While it’s important to generate lists, summary information, and statistics, it’s also important to pull as much insight as possible from that information.

While BI tells you what is happening right now or what has happened, business analytics is predictive and prescriptive. Knowing what is going to happen helps you plan what your firm should be doing (or not doing) to create better outcomes.

The table below shows some examples of reporting requirements and the difference between BI and business analytics (see Table 1).

Standard Reporting Business Intelligence Business
List of clients and client personnel grouped by practice group or industry Summary of client personnel based on level (Executive, Director, Manager, etc.) by practice group or industry Percentage of relationships with client personnel by level and their effect on client retention and legal spend with our firm over the years
List of touchpoints for clients this year Summary of touchpoints showing totals by practice group or industry Types of clients and client personnel who respond to our content and effectiveness by type of touchpoints based on revenue projections
List of invitees to the annual event, including who attended and who should follow up with them Summary of attendees by job level and percentage of top clients represented Comparison of client retention and revenue change from clients who had representation at the event with clients who did not have representation

Table 1: Sample Report Requirements

Peter Parker just wanted to be a teenager and enjoy his class trip to Europe, so he was unprepared for the challenges that appeared along his journey. But unlike Peter, with the right support, you can be prepared to provide meaningful information for improving marketing and business development efforts for your firm.

Spider-Man had a lot of help from Nick Fury and his team; they provided him with intel, equipment, and support. You get the same type of support from us. When helping our customers move their CRM implementations forward, we tap into our personal knowledge and our extensive network of experts and professionals who have years of experience managing marketing, business development, and general CRM initiatives.

One of the questions we get often, as firms are pushing past the business development phase is, “How do I use business intelligence?” In other words, “What do I do with this information?” Our advice is to start by asking questions about your marketing and business development processes, such as “Who is reading our publications?”, “What is our return on investment for our annual events?”, and “Who are the most valuable contacts to the firm?”

The answers to your questions lie within the data. Like Spider-Man learned to use his powers to fight crime, learn how to use the power of your data to inform the business. Remember, data is the power source of your CRM initiatives, which require care and nurturing, so don’t make reporting an afterthought. It can be a villain if you are not prepared.

The data you collect, and the way you collect and store it, will dictate the reporting and analytics you can accomplish in the end. Pursue the maturity curve and move your CRM initiatives forward. Don’t just ask “What happened?” but ask “What will happen if I do this?”, and “What should I do to make this happen?” Don’t be afraid to go on a journey. With the right support, you’re never really far from home.

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About Duane Eddy

Duane Eddy
Duane Eddy has worked in the CRM market for over 20 years. For the first 15 years, he was focused on providing technical consulting services with LexisNexis InterAction, performing many tasks such as installation, upgrades, report development, customizations, etc. He is a problem solver, using his years of experience and technical knowledge to find creative CRM solutions. Duane holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Technology, a Master’s of Science degree in Information System from DePaul University, and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt. As a Client Advisor, he is a CRM ambassador, working to make sure all customers are successful with their CRM implementations. He focuses on helping clients with the CRM strategies, initiatives, and, more recently, analytics and reporting, to get the most out of their solutions.