It’s no secret that one of the biggest impediments to implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system firmwide is enlisting lawyer buy-in.
Despite the potential that CRM systems hold for supercharging a firm’s business development success, when it comes to the value of sharing client relationship information within a law firm, marketing professionals and lawyers are sometimes inclined to see things differently.
The first challenge revolves around the BD professional’s ability to incorporate all of the firm’s attorneys’ legacy contact data into a CRM system where it can be aggregated and analyzed to provide detailed information about relationships. Going forward, the next challenge is to get the lawyers to update the system with additional information related to meetings with clients, prospect pitches and other details that would help build out a more complete picture of all client and prospect touch points and allow the firm to sharpen its business development focus.
But CRM initiatives are frequently met with a mixture of skepticism and mistrust. “Attorneys don’t want to share their contacts. The idea scares them. Lawyers aren’t sharers, but we have to make them into sharers,” says Michelle Woodyear, the former Digital Marketing Manager for a leading global law firm and now Client Advisor at LexisNexis.
Marketing the Marketing: Strong Value Proposition Helps Overcome Objections
Overcoming a lawyer’s reluctance to share contacts with others across the firm is critical to the successful functioning of a CRM system. “The value proposition for doing so has to be greater than the negatives,” Woodyear says.
To help both to demonstrate and to communicate the value of sharing contacts within a CRM, Woodyear suggests enlisting the support of those she refers to as “early adopters and fast followers.”
Early Adopters and Fast Followers Strengthen the Case
Woodyear cautions that rolling out an effective CRM-based business development program is a long and incremental process. “Coming from a Fortune 500 company to my role as a law firm Digital Marketing Manager, I thought that we could just make a decision and roll it out. I found out that you have to deal with people on a grassroots level first – find like-minded people, early adopters and fast followers and get them excited about it.“
Fortunately for Woodyear, her firm’s newly hired chief marketing officer was one of her initial supporters. “She not only bought into my vision, but she packaged it in a way that got the chairman and the partners to buy in, too.” With support at the top secured, Woodyear turned her attention to finding champions for her vision at ground level. Focusing on a single practice group, she presented her case, convinced the leader to try a pilot program, and began guiding the group along its journey toward CRM enlightenment, one step at a time.
One of Woodyear’s early successes materialized when 20 attorneys in the pilot practice group used email signature scraping to update some 6,000 contacts in the CRM database. The experience emphasized how a firm’s contact information can become inaccurate over time– and how technology can make the process of maintaining accurate contact information easy and painless.
The Digital Marketing Blueprint
Woodyear’s blueprint for BD success via digital marketing incorporates several common sense – yet often overlooked – steps that help optimize results.
Step 1. Create client personas
You can’t deploy a successful digital marketing campaign if you don’t know who the prospect is, Woodyear cautions. She has lawyers describe the attributes of their “ideal” client and uses that information to target qualified prospects whose profiles match the ideal.
Step 2. Make it easy
“Most lawyers didn’t go to law school thinking they’d have to become salesmen, so you have to make it easy,” Woodyear advises. Integrating the CRM system with Microsoft Outlook, ensuring accessibility via mobile devices, enabling relationship scoring via a tool such as InterAction IQ and offering business card readers are key tactics for minimizing the work required to access and update the system regularly – helping to ensure its adoption firm-wide.
Step 3. Optimize bios for search and for personas
One of Woodyear’s most surprising discoveries was that many of the lawyers failed to include the terms “lawyer” or “attorney” in their online profiles. The use of relevant keywords helps ensure that search engines find the lawyers’ bios. Woodyear also notes that crafting the bio to appeal to the needs and pain points of the client personas is equally important.
Step 4. Go social
General Counsels vet attorneys online. If an attorney’s name doesn’t appear in LinkedIn search results, he or she will lose out to one whose name does. Using tools like Kredible can help attorneys focus on the most important elements of the profile while enforcing brand standards and best practices.
Step 5. Develop a Digital Content Strategy
Technology has impacted the way law firms should engage with their clients. The ability to provide rich content is essential. If a firm’s lawyers don’t already know how to use CRM, ERM, bios, blogs and social media to communicate, it’s high time to learn. And if the firm doesn’t have the technology required to support its lawyers’ digital efforts, it’s time to implement it.
And equally importantly, content must be part of an overall strategy rather than randomly produced, disconnected and ad hoc. When formulating a digital content strategy, Woodyear suggests keeping the following rules in mind:
Make it personal. 1-to-1 Marketing. People expect it. That’s what the experience on other websites. There is so much digital noise, personalization the key to standing out in today’s cluttered digital environment.
Be social. If your lawyers aren’t on linked in GET THEM THERE. Why? Because GC’s use Social to vet law firms and find relevant content. How many? Somewhere between 60 and 73 percent check you out online according to recent surveys.
Analyze results. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You can’t gain credibility for your marketing efforts if you don’t have the data to back up your claims. Today’s marketer must understand how analyze and interpret data.
Cross-serve and convert leads. When you know HOW your clients are interacting with your content then you can begin to see patterns and uncover opportunities for cross serving existing clients. It’s much more cost effective to sell additional services to existing clients rather than chasing down new clients. In fact, the cost of winning a new client is 7x the cost of retaining an existing client.
Staff up. Woodyear says that many of the firms she has talked to are beginning to realize that they’ll need to change their whole approach to compete with other firms. They may need to retrain existing staff or hire new experts who have a deep understanding of marketing technologies and content strategy.
Step 6. Create and curate content
Good content gets shared and linked to. Shared and linked content gets Google’s attention. Content that gets Google’s attention gets found, shared and linked to even more. The feedback cycle doesn’t go on indefinitely, though. Content must be refreshed periodically to ensure that viewers and search engines remain engaged.
Step 7. Deliver personalized content
Content should be written with the specific information needs and pain points of the prospects in mind (see Step 1). Use the power of your CRM system to segment your target audience and then target them with appropriate content and messaging. Don’t bombard them with every client alert and white paper your firm produces, otherwise you’ll become noise and they’ll ignore all of your content.
The “Age of the Customer” is Changing the Face of BD
Having experienced the challenges as well as the benefits associated with implementing CRM solutions, Woodyear acknowledges their indispensible role in the business development mix. “We’re in the age of the customer,” she says. “The customers are in control. It’s our job to manage and nurture relationships in ways that address their needs and maximize business opportunities for firms. Implementing an effective, CRM-driven digital marketing program is a new strategy, but it’s a great place to start.”