How Law Firms Can Solve CRM Adoption

If you want a litmus test to see if your law firm will survive in the long term, consider how eagerly your lawyers adopt CRM.

“CRM enable us to effortlessly communicate with our most important audience: clients, referral sources, prospects, and friends of the firm…this is our gold. Without these folks, we don’t have a law firm,” explains John Remsen, Jr., President and CEO of The Remsen Group.

John’s knowledge is based on decades of helping law firms develop and implement long-term strategic  marketing and business development objectives. In fact, he recently discussed with us his eight strategies for building a successful law firm marketing department.

But he notes that too many firms operate like a “hotel for lawyers” and not a business in a highly competitive environment.

“They’re out there doing their own thing however they want to do it. There’s little structure, policy or accountability,” he points out. “CRMs will never work if no one’s going to share; if it’s all about ‘my individual performance’ and ‘my clients.’”

Those kind of firms, he says, will be challenged to survive in the long term.

“By operating business as usual, they’re losing ground, they’re becoming increasingly irrelevant and  they’re on a slow death spiral,” says John.

In contrast, he notes that in a true firm teams are eager to share information, there’s shared vision and lawyers hold each other accountable for performance and behavior.

John admits that most firms are on a continuum between being a collection of sole practitioners sharing office space and “a true team-oriented environment where there’s no straying from the firm, its policies and goals, with little tolerance for bad behavior and underperformance,” he says.

In light of this, to attain the highest value from CRMs, John believes firms should:

1. Show lawyers real-world examples of how CRM drives success. Introduce CRM to an office or practice group that exhibits sharing and teamwork, then showcase how it has helped them get business that they couldn’t have gotten independently.

“Lawyers love to see precedent,” says John. “A lawyer in Cleveland will say, ’Prove to me CRM works!’ You can say, ‘Well, here’s what our Cincinnati office did with CRM. They took a team approach winning this big client. Joe had a part. Bill had a part. Sally had a part. And they were all willing to work together to make it happen.’ And the lawyer will begin to get it.”

2. Tie the teamwork required for CRM adoption to compensation. “I encourage marketers to pay attention to the compensation system,” says John. “If it’s formulaic – you eat what you kill – well, that’s sole practitioners sharing office space because the compensation encourages that behavior. ‘What’s in my column is in my column. I win, you lose.’ This generates hoarding, control and internal competition where everyone is fighting for numbers, hours and origination.”

He advises using these compensation tactics to move away from this behavior, and reward teamwork and the CRM adoption that come with it:

  • Limit origination credit. “You definitely want to reward rainmakers,” says John. “My first firm gave the originating attorney credit for the first three years, after that the client reverted to the firm client. If your firm heavily rewards origination credits for life, no one is going to be sharing anything.”
  • Give origination credits to practice groups. “They can then determine among themselves how to divvy it up,” he says.
  • Reward teamwork. “Are you a team player? Do you share? Do you mentor and train young lawyers? Are you a good firm citizen by doing what’s asked of you and showing up to meetings?” asks John. “Weigh these factors in compensation.”

In essence, in a compensation system that rewards CRM adoption, lawyers won’t care who gets business as long as it’s their firm.

“They stop focusing on their piece of pie, and instead, focus on the entire pie getting bigger, because when the pie is bigger, we all eat more,” John illustrates. “They give up control and hoarding because the compensation system rewards them to do so.”

3. Make sure they can populate the CRM with complete, accurate information. “You’ve got to make sure everything is accurate and up to date in your CRM,” insists John. “Typos in a name? That’s offensive. The accuracy of information is critical and lawyers know the importance of accuracy. Don’t we want the same level of attention when we’re communicating with our most important audiences?”

Law firms can now use a customer relationship automation tool that works with existing CRMs to instantly and accurately update client and contact records with no manual entry.

If you want to build the teamwork and the long-term success that comes with it “CRM is the tool,” says John. “It’s the engine that makes it happen.”

If you want to make it easier for your firm to adopt CRM and unlock the collaborative culture that comes with it, do yourself a favor and schedule a demo this week to find out how Introhive’s Customer Relationship Automation works. 

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