CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 1, Getting Buy-In

What Three Leading Firms Did to Achieve Success

Customer relationship management (CRM) software gives accounting and law firms a proven way to boost productivity and revenue, save time, reduce marketing and administrative costs, and increase cross-selling and client retention. But many firms are still not using this powerful tool for developing and deepening client relationships because they don’t know how it works or how to get started.

To discover what goes into a successful CRM implementation, Cole Valley Software, makers of ContactEase CRM, convened a panel of marketing directors from two law firms and an accounting firm to share best practices learned in the process of identifying needs, getting buy-in, implementing a system and maximizing ROI:

  • Kimberly P. Hafley, Director of Marketing & Recruitment for Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith PC, a 95-attorney law firm based in Lansing, Michigan
  • Barbara Joseph, Marketing and Client Services Director at Bowles Rice, LLP, a 140-attorney law firm based in Charleston, West Virginia
  • Joy Long, Director of Marketing for Ostrow, Reisin, Berk & Abrams, Ltd. (ORBA), a full-service accounting and consulting firm in Chicago with 125 employees

This whitepaper presents highlights of their discussion during a webinar which was attended by representatives of 145 professional services firms.

Getting Buy-In

Most marketing and business development professionals know that their firms need and would benefit from a CRM system. But they often have difficulty getting buy-in from the management team and other firm members, usually for reasons having to do with cost and resistance to change. Therefore, identifying pain points and showing how CRM can address them is a critical first step in CRM implementation.

Here’s what the panelists said about getting buy-in from partners and firm leadership.

View More: Hafley comments:

Our first step was to identify what our staff members needed; the second, to give them some talking points so they could convince their attorneys that CRM would meet those needs. Also, we identified several attorneys to help champion the cause, and we hired a consultant who happened to be an attorney, which made it easier to sell CRM to our attorneys.

Doing all that made it much easier to then go to the management team and show how CRM could help us deliver better service and be better at business development. With that, we were able to get buy-in.

Joseph_Barb_PP (1)Barbara Joseph comments:

We had a database of 48,000 names that was glutted and full of inaccuracies. To show our management that we needed CRM, I printed out the 15,000 names in our database that no one owned. No one could verify them, yet 5,000 of those contacts were getting marketing materials from us.

Once the managing partner saw what was happening he said, “We have to change this.” This exercise led our management team to say “Yea, we need something different” and approved our getting CRM.


I knew it would be important to understand my firm’s pain points and demonstrate how a CRM system could solve them. So I undertook an audit to figure out how things worked and learned that everything was going out hard copy and snail mail. The hope was to go electronic and expand our industry and practice-niche content and make sure it went to the right clients and prospects.

To that end, I developed a flow chart showing that our current inefficient process for delivering content to clients and prospects had 27 steps. I also did a cost-benefit analysis to show how automating the process with a CRM system could help us realize significant
efficiencies. We were using Excel spreadsheets for our database, and it took one or two days to pull and clean information for a single mailing. We were doing four or five mailings a month, so the hours involved were significant.

By doing the cost-benefit analysis, I was able to show how we could reallocate personnel time, save money, and expand our benefits. For me, that was the most persuasive argument for investing in CRM.

Plus, we had a “fortunate” disaster. When the data was pulled once for a general mailing to clients and prospects, the addresses somehow got disconnected from the names and moved down one person. So the mailing went to the right address but with the wrong name, and calls about the error started coming in. Buy-in for CRM became much stronger — and the sell much easier — after that.

Stay tuned for next week’s article – CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 2, Planning and Budgeting. For the full whitepaper visit our website –

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