So your practice is going global. Perhaps you’re opening up offices round the world to support multi-national clients, acquiring companies in other countries, or partnering with them, to grow your business. Whatever your aspirations, maximising the potential of your global network is essential.
What does that mean in practice? It means being able to leverage your relationships with customers and the strengths of your colleagues around the world. Increasing revenue by extending your existing specialisms with multi-national companies into other countries is a standard business development tactic. So, too, is growing your influence in a single country by expanding into new areas of law where you haven’t been active before.
But let’s think about this for a moment. To achieve those goals you need a great deal of information and intelligence about your customers and the services you are providing to them globally. So you can use it to spot opportunities for expanding existing services and providing new ones.
Which is where things can start to get tricky. Because, whether you are growing through acquisition, partnerships or opening our own offices, it’s quite likely you’ll have a wide range of disparate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that don’t talk to each other. So it’s virtually impossible to get a 360-degree of world-wide customers, which makes a cohesive, global business development strategy unworkable.
If you are already using a single solution you don’t have that problem. But there is something else you need to think about carefully – language. Clearly, if you have clients in China, the Middle East, Japan or South America, you have to speak their language of business, using their own conventions. Mandating that only English will be used in the CRM system is a recipe for alienating them. And it won’t be too popular with staff either.
However, allowing customer records to be kept in local language brings its own problems. Having records in local language only will create the same issues as having separate systems – an inability to analyse customer information to spot opportunities. Creating a second entry in English means a huge amount of work trying to keep the two entries synchronised, for example updating communication preferences, job titles, preferences and relationships with partners. It’s a sure-fire recipe for errors.
However, this problem can be overcome with a CRM system like Lexis® InterAction®. Because the system keeps a bilingual business card that is updated automatically, both the English and local language information is always synchronised. Change communication preferences on the local language record and the English version is automatically updated. Add some relationship information from your English contact and the local language version reflects it immediately.
A central CRM system that incorporates this kind of functionality gives you the tools and customer intelligence you need to roll out a global business development strategy that increases the strength, depth and breadth of client relationships around the world. In a second blog we’ll look at other functionality that is equally important for speaking your clients’ language of business and growing your revenue. Watch this space.