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What CRM managers can learn from tailors?

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When talking to clients a common challenge they often ask me about is how to obtain fee earner engagement with their CRM system. The first thing I get them to do is sign in as one of their key fee earners. Why? Well think about it.

If a suit doesn’t fit a fee earner, then more often than not it will remain hanging at the back of their closet, un-worn and eventually thrown out. The same concept can be applied to a CRM system – if a fee earner doesn’t feel the system ‘fits’ their objectives and their role in business development, it will sit on their desktop unused and eventually the whole system will be thrown out!

So CRM database managers, together with business development and marketing professionals, must make sure their CRM system fits their firm and fee earners. Presenting a database of uncategorised and untargeted contacts to fee earners is confusing and unmanageable. But there are many features of the system that can easily be utilised to tailor the system for each fee earner.

Contact types and categorisation
Check whether contact types and categorisation are aligned to the business development initiatives of the firm and, ultimately, to the fee earners responsible for managing those initiatives. Fee earners want a clear list of clients and the contacts they need to target to achieve their business development goals.

And they have little time to dedicate to business development, so it’s important they don’t have to dig for the information they require. Business development professionals need to work closely with fee earners and the CRM system to ensure contact groups remain relevant and up-to-date throughout the year.

Configure and utilise alerts
Once you have established contact types and categorisation you can easily configure ‘alerts’ for each partner in their Interaction Outlook toolbar. Using these, fee earners can efficiently and conveniently keep up-to-date with activities and engagements that take place with the clients and contacts they are managing… and they don’t have to leave their Microsoft Outlook inbox to do it!

Set frequently used lists
Clearly each fee earner will only care about the clients, industry and practice areas they work with. So why present them with a full list of folders when asking them to categorise their own contacts? By setting ‘Frequently Used Lists’ for your partners, you simplify their experience and eliminate the risk of them feeling overwhelmed with the system.

Database configuration
Have you every stopped to consider what the database looks like from a fee earner perspective? What activity types you have and whether they make sense to your fee earners? Often, marketing teams will create activity types based on their own processes and workflows, which make little sense to the fee earners and confuse the Web Client or Interaction Outlook view.

Format activities for fee earners so they are clear about the information you want them to contribute to the system and it is easy for them to do it. The same concept can be applied to contact types, marketing list naming conventions and how you categorise your folders.

Over time your CRM database will be over-flowing with contact records. If you don’t point each fee earner to the exact group of contacts and folders you need them to focus on, you are committing your system to a life at the back of the closet! So go on, log into the system as one of your key fee earners and see whether it suits them. And if it doesn’t, get tailoring!

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:


Tennille has worked in marketing for professional service organisations for over 12 years in various roles, including event management, digital communications and operations. For the last eight years, she has focused specifically on InterAction, working with business development executives to align the database to business planning, key account programmes and marketing strategies.

Tennille also specialises in repositioning misunderstood (or failed) systems with business development teams and partnerships. At Lexis Nexis, she works with business development teams to adopt marketing and client relationship management techniques managed centrally through InterAction, to support the growth of professional service firms from domestic, office centric environments to connected global organisations. Her aim is to help streamline your processes and successfully report client growth, value add and return on investment back to the business.

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