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Is it time to reevaluate your firm’s CRM?

In this post, we welcome Julie Savarino, an award-winning business and client development strategist. In this article, Julie lends her perspective on the importance of adopting a modern CRM and the benefits it provides for law firms and professional services firms. You can connect with Julie on LinkedIn, and you’ll be seeing more of her expertise on this blog and Intapp’s social media channels. Welcome, Julie!

Many legacy CRM (client relationship management) systems that are currently being used by law firms and professional services firms are becoming obsolete due to the rise of new, unified workflow-based CRM systems. Consider the questions below. If you answer no to two or more of these questions, you may want to reevaluate your firm’s current CRM system.

Does your law firm’s current CRM system automatically:

  • Unify and integrate with all other critical firm technology and systems?
  • Tie to your firm’s conflicts, time and billing, and pricing systems?
    • Is all that data displayed in a dashboard format within your CRM?
    • Can anyone in the firm access it (with controls in place over changes to data)?
  • Provide relationships maps such as, who knows whom?
    • Does it auto-populate contacts from emails and email signatures?
  • Support the key steps in your firm’s lateral growth strategy, for example, identify, qualify, or approve?
  • Can it maintain the progress of annual plans (whether by department, practice group and/or lawyers)?
  • Display “white space,” for example, practice areas used and not used by each key client?
    • Will it display revenue by practice group and industry sector?
  • Provide relevant information for experience inventories, rankings, or awards?

The challenges with legacy CRM

Most CRM systems currently in use by law firms were purchased or built many years ago to handle contact integration and management. These systems are often stand-alone platforms. The CRM systems in most firms are maintained by the firm’s marketing or business development department and require significant staff time and investments to keep up.

Yet, these current CRM systems do not have high usage and adoption rates by most of the firm’s lawyers and other professionals. Why? A recent survey found the lack of use and adoption by the firm’s professionals is because:

  • The use of the CRM in most firms is optional
  • There is little incentive for lawyers/professionals to use the firm’s CRM
  • Lack of understanding the value of CRM
  • Little accountability for opting in

Why legacy CRM lacks adoption

So, only approximately 5 percent of lawyers use their firm’s CRM for business and client development purposes! According to Darryl Cross, Practice Group Lead for Professional Services Firm Leaders and Professionals at Intapp, “One of the challenges with partner adoption of CRM is realizing they access information differently than marketing and business development professionals. Partners drill up for information by starting with a single client they work with and find others like them. Marketers drill down by filtering and sorting large lists of possibilities. Only by combining internal and external data to satisfy both approaches will a modern CRM be successful.”

Certainly, some leading CRM systems currently in use by law firms and other professional services firms offer updates, patches, bolt-ons, custom APIs, and so forth. They support GDPR compliance, experience databases, HTML, sales pipelines, results reports from various marketing and social media campaigns, and other functionalities and capabilities. But, each of these updates are usually separate and require a significant investment to purchase, integrate, and populate with the right data and information to maintain. For firms that have made the often significant additional investments to deploy these upgrades, their legacy CRM system is still viable but is not fully integrated with all other firm systems.

A new way to think about CRM

One solution might be to start thinking about CRM with an inside-out mindset – yes, our CRM should integrate and manage contacts, but in this hypercompetitive market for outside legal services, we need it to be unified with all other critical firm systems from the get-go.

CRM should not be a stand-alone system for contact management only. Instead, ideally a CRM should be pre-built to work with other key firm technologies and systems. For example, CRM should automatically integrate with all firm and client workflow and life cycle data. So, maybe it’s time to consider a CRM that is pre-built to integrate with all the other critical systems the firm uses, such as intake, conflicts, pricing, time, billing, and experience – which automatically populates contact information and fuels a robust CRM to help drive effective business, client development, and profitability.

For more information about a modern way firms can leverage existing relationships, attract new business, and deploy actionable intelligence to drive more strategic growth, please check out Intapp’s Intapp. You can also meet us this week at Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in Atlanta on April 8th – 10th. Our product experts will be on-hand to demo our client development solution and to answer any questions you may have. Meet us there!