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Identifying the need for CRM

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From my experience, the first three phrases a new head of marketing or business development says when walking into a new professional services organisation for the first time is:

  1. “Where is my office?”
  2. “Where is the coffee maker?”
  3. “Why don’t we have a proper CRM system?”

However, once the new professional has settled in, they should think about why there isn’t one in place. Perhaps the firm has never invested in the processes, systems and technology behind a true CRM system. Perhaps they DID, but they have been disappointed in the lack of results. It is pretty safe to say that this is not the first time someone has articulated the need to better manage relationships. The problem most likely lies in whether or not the needs of why a CRM system is necessary have ever been properly discussed.

Business professionals realise that CRM is an enabling technology that allows systems and processes to be put in place to generate financial gains. Thus, it would not be inaccurate for a CMO to say, “I need a proper CRM technology in place to properly do what you hired me to do.”

However, CRM requires a tremendous amount of time, money and attention from all stakeholders. The proper questions need to be asked before the need to change will be viewed as critical.

Is it hard to communicate?

The simple act of communicating information should not a multi-day ordeal. Do your fee earners have a way to share information about clients and prospects? Does your firm have a way to share information that may affect a client’s business? If you consider it good client service to do so, it might be time for a change.

Is it hard to collaborate?

If you have fee earners in multiple offices, how hard is it for them to work together on sizable deals, matters and projects? For many firms, their expansion into new cities, countries and markets was based on their ability to bring more resources to bear on solving a client’s problem. Can they? If not, it may be time for a change.

Is it hard to compete?

Is your firm guessing as to what the client wants or needs? Convincing a client to pick your firm requires insight, innovation and the mitigation of risk. If your firm is constantly searching for a secret weapon because it keeps losing, it may be time for a change.

The need for CRM will be defined by what the firm needs to do versus what it is presently capable of doing. This execution gap is what will motivate the firm to take action. The savvy business professional will also frame it in such a way that the primary stakeholder that benefits is the CLIENT.

This blog is part of a series entitled: Building the Business Case for CRM.

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:


Darryl Cross is Vice President, Performance Development and Coaching at LexisNexis; and an acclaimed inspirational speaker. A certified business coach with the Association for Talent Development, Cross has presented to over 10,000 fee earners and business executives from over 100 countries. He is also an internationally recognised author on best practices in the subjects of law firm profitability, coaching, strategic marketing, leveraging relationships, social networking, business development and competitive intelligence.

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