Tech Partner Talks: Making the Business Case for New Technology

ContactEase Director of Client Services, Amber Elliott, and Documentation and Training Specialist, Sara Coffey recently got together to discuss how law firm marketers can successfully make the business case for new technology. Spoiler alert: address your lawyers’ pain points to solve your own! In this inaugural session of ContactEase Tech Partner Talks, Elliott and Coffey reflect on their own experiences as law firm marketers as well as what they’ve learned helping firms implement ContactEase. To listen to the full talk, visit the ContactEase CRM Resources page.

In her role as Director of Client Services, Elliott works with firms of all sizes to implement ContactEase CRM and other products. She works with firms that brand new to CRM as well as those who are transitioning from other platforms. From helping prospective clients obtain buy-in and choose the right partner to helping firms refresh their CRM strategy years after an implementation, the ContactEase team has developed strong relationships. During each talk, we’ll use that experience to show how finding the right partner can be just as important as finding the right platform.

As marketers, you have to have the systems and processes in place to market your firm, help your professionals strengthen their relationships, and win new business. You don’t have to go it alone. The right partner can carry some of that load for you. Over the next few weeks, we’ll show you how to make the business case, find the right partner, build the right teams, and keep it all moving forward! The examples we’ll share do come from CRM, but the advice is the same no matter the platform you’re considering or the problems you’re trying to solve.

When making the business case, it’s important to identify your key stakeholders first. Some marketers may be in a position to make the buying decision, but in a lot of firms that happens at the committee level. Either way, you need to have buy-in from the key decision-makers and your stakeholders who will be using your new platforms. It really doesn’t make any sense to invest in technology your lawyers aren’t going to use. That’s why, when you make your business case, it’s critical to put them first. Focus on their pain points and their problems. In doing so, you’re going to find that you’ll be able to address your own. A win for everyone!

Let’s take a look at some of the common pain points we hear from marketers:

  • It takes too long to pull together a mailing list
  • Our contacts really aren’t receiving relevant information from us
  • We lack coordinated outreach

I bet you can relate to at least one of those, right? But, what’s missing? How it affects your attorneys. Attorneys don’t really care that it takes you hours to pull a mailing list together, or that you’re waiting for them to provide feedback on a list you sent weeks ago, but when you take that problem and position it in a way that impacts them directly — their practice, their professional reputation, and their relationships — they’re going take notice. So, your problem goes from, “It takes us hours to pull together a list” to things like:

  • Contacts aren’t receiving the e-alerts you’re writing
  • Contacts are missing out on timely and relevant information from the firm
  • Contacts are receiving this information from our competitors
  • Contacts may think we’re behind the curve

Elliott recalls working with practice groups at her former firm. One practice group she worked with was very active sending frequent alerts and always ready with information to send to their contacts. On the surface, they were doing everything right, but when they took a closer look at the lists they realized nearly 1/3 of the contacts didn’t have an email address. This meant that they weren’t receiving any communications at all. It’s examples like this that you want to look for in order to tell your lawyers how new technology will solve their problems.

So, when we look at the problems we’ve identified above we can argue that with a CRM we’ll have all of the firm’s contact data in a central location which is going to make it easy to categorize contacts for targeted marketing campaigns, update and review lists efficiently and ensure you have the data you need to get your e-alerts and mailings out quickly and to the right audience.

It’s a good way to show lawyers they’re doing it right but they could be doing it even better. Another frustration we often hear from marketers is that “we don’t know what our lawyers are doing.” Sometimes lawyers don’t understand why this is important for marketing. Let’s think about the implications when marketing doesn’t know what their lawyers are doing:

We don’t know what mailings clients are receiving or if they’re receiving them at all. When this happens, either through a missing email address or the inability to track the touchpoints, clients and contacts are missing out on potentially important regulatory updates that affect their business and their bottom line. They may think that the firm didn’t know about emerging issues and are just behind the curve.

When multiple lawyers reach out to the same clients, it shows a lack of coordinated outreach. The firm could appear disorganized and unprofessional, and it can be confusing for clients, too.

We don’t know the status of proposals and pitches. You may miss out on important deadlines or pitch for work that doesn’t pay well. You may even be including irrelevant or outdated information. At one of Coffey’s former firms, marketing decided to start tracking RFPs from a couple different angles:

  • Win rates when marketing was involved from the beginning
  • Time to complete when marketing was involved from the beginning
  • Who won the work

When the firm started tracking this information, they realized that when marketing was involved from the beginning there was a higher win rate and it took less time to respond. The marketing team also helped make the case against submitting certain proposals which freed up time and resources. When lawyers learned that marketing’s involvement paid off, they were brought in earlier and often.

In our last example, we don’t understand the firm’s relationships. Lawyers think they know their relationships and so they don’t think about the benefits of a firmwide understanding. To drive the importance of this home, lawyers need to hear:

  • We’re missing opportunities because we aren’t spending the best person to ask for work
  • We’re unable to effectively cross-sell the clients
  • We’re missing out on additional opportunities to provide superior client service
  • We don’t understand what more we can be doing for our clients

To address these pain points, you may want to look for an enterprise relationship management or ERM platform that integrates with CRM. This ensures you have all of the firm’s contacts in one location, even though that don’t make it into the attorney’s Outlook. On its own, CRM will tell you who knows whom, but when you add ERM into the mix, you can also who has the strongest relationship, and that will let you know how you can leverage those existing relationships across the firm for business development purposes. ERM also provides industry segmentation that allows you to identify growth opportunities in different sectors.

At Coffey’s last firm, understanding industry segments allowed the firm to develop a new industry group. The firm used NAICS codes to identify and segment industries in CRM and uncovered growth opportunity in higher education and other industries. a lot of relationships in higher education and make the business case for the industry group and expand our representation of colleges and universities.

These are just a few pain points we hear from firms. Just remember, no matter what yours are, when you really start thinking about your pain points and find a way to position them from your stakeholders’ vantage point, you’ll be able to gain the momentum you need and get buy-in for your projects.

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