It’s 2015 and, following the global financial crisis, the legal market is more competitive and ruthless than ever before. Clients are less loyal and are demanding more from their law firms for less.
In this environment business development functions need to create firm-wide client acquisition strategies and client relationship programmes. And they need a reliable and centralised client database to help them manage their global efforts to attract new business - the one that should be held in their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Unfortunately, in my experience, although many firms have CRM systems, they have fallen by the wayside and aren’t up to date. Or worse still, not used at all. Why is that?
In some cases firms had budget before the crisis and launched a system, but it was done without a robust strategy, relevant configuration and, most importantly, firm-wide buy in.
At other law firms it was a case of ‘jumping on the band wagon’. Competitors were implementing CRM systems and business development teams felt they needed to keep up, despite not being fully bought into the process.
In the case of firms that were growing rapidly, launching new offices and consolidating with other practices far and wide, no attention was paid to adopting a consistent approach to collecting client data.
Many firms fell victim to launching a CRM system without having an agreed and adopted CRM strategy. After all, like a finance system underpins the financial strategy of a firm (including revenue targets, loss management and profitability), so a CRM system should exist to support an existing business and/or client development strategy.
Whether that strategy is to seek new opportunities through consumer marketing, industry-led projects or client relationships, a CRM system will only be successful if the business development function and the partnership as a whole are bought into an agreed firm-wide approach to winning new business.
So here you are today. You need to deliver successful business development strategies and you need an accurate, working CRM system to help you. But you don’t have one. What should you do: re-position, re-launch or re-brand? There are pros and cons to each of these options. Over the coming weeks we will review them in detail to help you make a decision.