Monday, February 04, 2008

ABA Law Practice Management: Is CRM Worth It? and Other Marketing Technology Trends

In the January/February 2008 issue of Law Practice Management, a magazine from the American Bar Association, I was invited to contribute to a panel discussion about Client Relationship Management applications in the Law Practice Case Study: Is CRM Worth It? The Pros and Cons of Client Relationship Management. This is the scenario we were given:

Charlie gazed at his administrator while holding the memo from a group of partners who were advocating for a client relationship managementsystem. The administrator was explaining that CRM wasn’t so much a software product, but more of an approach to how a law firm deals with its clients. A CRM system, she said, was much more than an expensive electronic Rolodex. Among other things, it would allow the firm to track clients’ needs and expectations and cross-sell services accordingly.

Charlie was all for a centralized system that would finally help the firm’s 70 lawyers keep better track of clients and bring in more business. He’d read about the new technologies and believed there was plenty of potential. But he’d also done an informal survey of his peers—managing partners at other midsize firms—and despite the hype surrounding CRM, not one could honestly say their firm had successfully implemented one of these systems. On top of that, no one he’d talked to seemed especially sure about what components these systems needed to contain to succeed. That wasn’t likely to help in answering the tough questions he knew his partners would have about why they should support this initiative, especially given its potential cost. Even the firm’s most successful rainmakers relied on marketing techniques they’d developed 25 years ago. The majority of the firms’ lawyers thought marketing meant doing good work and waiting for clients to call if they needed new services. To them, cross-selling was telling the client that the firm had a litigation department on another floor. Convincing them that CRM was a worthwhile investment would take some doing. Before he agreed to support the initiative, he needed to talk to a few people and get up to speed—quickly—so that he could answer his partners’ questions and make the right decision. He wondered who he should talk to....

Doug Cornelius, Ross Fishman, Simon Chester and I all tackle the question in the Law Practice Case Study.

By the way, this whole issue focuses on Marketing Technology Trends and is one I highly recommend reading pretty much "cover to cover".

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