CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 5, Impact and ROI

For our last post, we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 4, Data Management. This is the last of our CRM five-part series:  1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.

This is Part 5 – Impact and ROI

Full implementation of a CRM system can take considerable time and effort. It’s important to track and measure impacts along the way, so you can determine ROI, demonstrate benefits, and celebrate success. This will increase buy-in and help you maximize the effectiveness of your system.

The following is what our peers had to say about the differences CRM made in their firms.

Kim Hafley comments:

We’ve seen three main impacts from CRM. First and foremost was the amount saved in printing and postage by cleaning up the data for all the mailing lists. That in itself was in excess of six figures.

The second was that, instead of entering data three times and having it take 24 man hours a month, it’s down to about 4 man hours. Over a year, that’s a huge chunk of somebody’s job, so we’ve freed up that time.

The third has to do with Christmas. We send out cards to a large list and run a huge event — a dress rehearsal with the Grand Rapids Ballet. By using CRM, we were able to reduce the time all this  from 300 man hours to 50.  We now have a great system that uses the Mailing List Manager, and the attorneys update their lists. We are able to email out invitations, and participants are able to sign up. We have their tickets waiting with their attorneys when they arrive so they get a personal greeting from their attorneys. It’s made the event a huge success.

Joseph_Barb_PP (1)
CRM has also enabled us to make sure our messages get out to the right people, as well as to print out reports that help our attorneys with cross-selling opportunities. They love that!
— Barbara Joseph


Barbara Joseph comments: 

We’ve received the most positive feedback and praise for how ContactEase has enabled us to be more proactive. For example, our data steward will use the system to run a report and give it to our client and industry teams with a note asking them to identify contacts to remove or add for a specific client or organization. It has also enabled us to make sure our messages get out to the right people, as well as to print out reports that help our attorneys with cross-selling opportunities. They love that!

CRM has saved us money, too. When I started, we were publishing and mailing about 8,000 copies of a glossy magazine three times a year. Some people were getting more than one copy, and that was expensive. By using CRM to de-duplicate and massage our data, we cut our mailing list down to 5,000. That’s a huge savings! Now we’re able to build up the list with the right people by using CRM to identify contacts who should be getting the magazine. It’s a great tool.

So is Mailing List Manager, part of our CRM system. We have an annual tent party at a West Virginia University football game and send out 5,000 e-invitations. We used to have to look through our old database, run a separate Excel spreadsheet for every attorney and
circulate it. They would mark it up and return it, and   we would then have to go in, change the data, enter the information, print it out, and send it to the printer for the mailing.

This morning it took me less than 30 minutes to update my Mailing List Manager and send an email to our attorneys saying “Here’s a spreadsheet with all your contacts. Please mark who should be invited to the tent party.” As the attorneys mark the spreadsheets, Mailing List Manager automatically updates the information in our database. When I need to, it will take me 15 minutes to pull an Excel spreadsheet for the mailing and send it to my printer. Mailing List Manager will save me 20 to 30 hours of work, just for that one event.

Joy Long comments:

For me, the benefit of using CRM is just amazing. For instance, we were able to get rid of six-figure printing, postage and mailing costs. Also, before CRM we were able to send out only two or three things a month because of the incredible time involved. Now I’m able to work with the different industry and practice groups and expand our blog platform. So today we have eight blogs and seven newsletters, and we regularly send out seminar invitations and special client alerts — all without having to increase staff!

Before CRM we were able to send out only two or three things a month because of the incredible time involved… Today we have eight blogs and seven newsletters, and we regularly send out seminar invitations and special client alerts — all without having to increase staff!  — Joy Long

Because we’ve gained so much efficiency with the CRM, it’s easier to send out things.  Something that would take two or three days is now down to a matter of minutes because you’re putting the tools in everybody else’s hands. It’s just so much more efficient!

For the full white paper visit our website –


Are you asking CRM vendors the right questions?

Customer Relationship Management - puzzle 3d render illustration

CRM is a strategy, not a project.  Think of CRM as “your firm as it could be.” If you do not have a comprehensive plan to take you to that destination, perhaps your firm could benefit from one. And if you do have a plan but the destination remains elusive, now might be the time to review and refine your CRM strategy.

Our goal as marketers and business development professionals is to have CRM help us acquire, grow and retain profitable customer relationships to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Which CRM system is right for a professional services firm can depend on several factors including the culture. Part of the CRM evaluation process is determining which type of CRM system meets the firm’s specific needs and provides the best CRM outcomes.

Steps to CRM Success:

Get sponsorship or buy-in from the management. If management doesn’t believe in the new approach to CRM, why should the employees? Implementing CRM requires working across organizational boundaries and breaking down long-term siloed behaviors and attitudes. You can’t do that by yourself! Many times the difference between a successful CRM strategy and a huge waste of money is backing from the management from the beginning.

Build a team. Prior to developing your CRM strategy or selecting your CRM software, form a CRM project team with representatives from each practice area to make sure colleagues’ needs and concerns are addressed. Too often companies neglect to include the correct stakeholders, and the initiative fails to meet the needs of those tied to its results. Pick your CRM team wisely – everyone will need to own the customer experience. Remember in forming the team, consider people, process, and technology. In addition to marketing include a marketing or managing partner, IT director, rainmaker partner and firm administration.

Define your business objectives? Your CRM strategy must be designed with your business objectives and marketing requirements in mind.

Automate processes. Identify processes that can be automated. What is the internal process for tracking pipeline opportunities, or how do you identify and track cross-selling opportunities? How are you tracking referrals sources, alumni, lost opportunities, and prospects? How do you create reports to share with management? More importantly if you were able to automate those manual processes, what impact would those increased efficiencies have on your team and the firm?

Manage Client communication. In the day of defined marketing segmentation, CRM is designed to ensure that you are sending out the right communications to the right contacts. CRM is a valuable tool in managing client communication: newsletters, alerts, announcements, event management, holiday cards/gifts, etc. CRM becomes your centralized communication center.

When buying any new CRM system, keep it simple. Don’t buy what you don’t need. The fewer bells and whistles, the less time and money you’ll need to devote to training. People don’t like change as it is; keeping things simple only makes the implementation that much easier. And training can be a challenge if the CRM system is too much for the firm and the culture.

Make sure that you are asking the right questions when researching a CRM system?

What should CRM do for your firm? Ultimately the right CRM will help a firm to acquire, grow and retain profitable customer relationships and create a sustainable competitive advantage. During the process of defining your requirements and vetting the multitude of CRM providers, here is a list of questions to consider asking vendors.  When you are in the process of researching a CRM system are you asking CRM vendors the right questions to insure that you match the CRM platform to the culture of your firm?

  • Of your current customers, what is the adoption success rate for using the CRM system?
  • Does your company provide help with implementation or do you utilize consultants or other third parties to do the work? What is your average implementation time?
  • As a vendor how would you define ease of use?
  • Do you provide best practices guidance and training specific to Professional Service Firms?
  • Are their additional fees to the original licenses? What are the renewal fees? Are there any hidden charges that are not mentioned during the review or proposal process? What are the price increases after the sale for each year?
  • What is the turnaround time for customer service related inquiries?
  • Who owns the data and where it is housed? Who controls the data?
  • If you should part ways with a vendor, what is the process for getting your data back?
  • Do you have referenceable Professional Service Firm customers?
  • How flexible is your platform? Can you integrate with other software programs (i.e Time & Billing)? If so, what are the costs associated with integration?
  • Does the system include a pipeline management process?
  • What industries do you focus on when selling the platform?
  • How recent was the technology created and/or updated? When was the last release?
  • Will the CRM system grow with the firm through mergers and acquisitions?
  • Ask every vendor – what CRM do you use to run your business?

With 25 years of experience in working with Professional Service Firms, ContactEase CRM has a 90% successful adoption rate in over 250 law and accounting firms, with 16,000+ users worldwide. For more about ContactEase CRM Made Easy, please call 1-800-447-1212 ext 2 or visit

Mailing List Manager Saves Significant Time…

Mailing List Puzzle Showing Email Marketing Lists OnlineWith ContactEase’s Mailing List Manager, professionals or their secretaries can easily update and select contacts to be on a mailing or event list in a browser window, saving great amounts of time and avoiding paperwork. They just click on those that should get the holiday card, update their industry, select a holiday gift, or see what their status is for the golf outing. An unlimited number of different events and/or mailings can be tracked with this system, allowing for each user to review their own mailing list in significantly less time.

“Coming from a small firm, I am thrilled to have a resource like Contact Ease.   It was simple for me to sync my Outlook.  Then with Mailing List Manager in an hour and a half, I had gone through and marked my 800+ contacts with what announcements and newsletters they should receive.  The feedback I have had from clients in just a month has been amazing.  Also new to the firm, I like the fact that I can search to see who at the firm might have contacts at a company.  It helps optimize business development opportunities and allows me a way to check to make sure I don’t step on any toes.”

Scott Dienes  –  Shareholder, Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC

ContactEase CRM products are easy-to-use and simple to manage. For more information about ContactEase Add-On Modules visit our website,

Business Development Expense Management Add-On Module

CRM - Customer Relationship Management

ContactEase has over a dozen of add-on modules that are available to enhance the capabilities of the CRM platform and are designed to improve business efficiencies across your organization.

Tracking business development expenses can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. Many marketing departments track this information manually and it’s often out of date.
With our Business Development Expense Management Tool partners, lawyers and their assistants can easily enter expenditures for approval, identifying the client/prospect and even the business discussed. Users enter the expense details including the person being entertained in a simple, easy to learn interface. This tool allows partners and lawyers to manage and submit their expenses in a timely fashion allowing you to track the total spend for the year. Expenses are submitted directly to Accounting and added to ContactEase with the click of a button – providing you with a spending recap against budget in a timely fashion.

ContactEase CRM products are easy-to-use and simple to manage. For more information about ContactEase Add-On Modules visit our website,




Webinar – Practicing Effective CRM Data Management and Stewardship

Join us for a webinar on Mar 09, 2016 at 2:00 PM EST.

Register now!

Avoid the chaos, practice good data management to realize your CRM’s full potential.

Join us on Wednesday, March 9th at 2pmEDT to hear from subject matter experts why client relationship data is one of the most important tools in professional services marketing.

  • Jennifer Irvine, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Bowditch & Dewey LLP
  • Caroline Emery, Business Development and Marketing Senior Manager, Sherin and Lodgen
  • John Wood, Founder and Principal, Data Health Associates

The job of keeping your client relationship management data clean and up-to-date can be a daunting task if you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to the process. Inconsistent, inaccurate, duplicate, and incomplete data can cause chaos even after a successful implementation. The more effective CRM implementations have made a focused effort on data integrity. Some firms use a partial marketing role, some use a data steward who assumes the primary responsibility for managing the accuracy and reliability of a firm’s data and others outsource the role for data grooming assistance on an as needed basis.

Why is clean data important? With good clean data the firm is able to capture and segment data for delivering relevant important communication to the right clients at the right time. Let’s face it, your competitors are doing it. If you can’t get the right information to the right clients, you run the risk of potentially losing clients. Ultimately CRM impacts everything you do in your role as a marketing or business development professional: Email marketing, Business Intelligence and Reporting, Business Development, Cross-Selling and Referral Programs. The entire value of your firm’s CRM system is predicated on having clean, duplicate-free, reliable data!

Topics covered will include:

    • Why is clean data important?
    • How have the more effective CRM implementations focused ongoing effort on data integrity?
    • Can success be accomplished using someone in a partial marketing role, a full-time data steward or an outsourced data steward?
    • What benefits can be maximized with good clean data?
    • What is the impact if you can’t get the right information to the right clients?

For more information about ContactEase CRM Made Easy for Professional Services Firms, please contact us: 1-800-447-1712 ext.2 or

How Do You Engage Firm Members in CRM?

AAAMMinuteAM Minute – Best Practices

Brenda Sleeper, ContactEase CRM

Engagement and adoption with a customer relationship management (CRM) system begins with looking at the different personas that will be using the system. Visualize the team members and the different needs that each of the individuals will have; what is important to ‘Paul the partner’ is different than what is important to ‘Angie the admin.’ Involving your team members from the onset is important to the success of your CRM implementation and usage. For a list of practical guidelines –

CRM Implementation Best Practices Whitepaper

What 3 Leading Firms Did to Achieve Success – To discover what goes into a successful CRM implementation we 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.


Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: Consent and Burden of Proof

So far in our series about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) we have covered the basics and commercial electronic messages. In this post we will cover the different types of consent and the burden of proof.

Consent = Permission

There are two different types of consent that apply to CASL, express and implied. Express consent means an individual must take affirmative action to “opt-in” to your list willingly. Implied consent is when a relationship exists, but the recipient is added to your list without any affirmative action.

With both types of consent there a is “burden of proof” that is required. This means that it is your responsibility to track, record, and document the information necessary to prove that you have consent to be contacting that person. Best practices include ensuring that all records of your compliance procedures and policies are maintained, and that proof of consent is documented and tracked. This information may support a due diligence defense at a later point in time if your firm is ever called into question.

So let’s see this in action….


Jeff's Business Card

You collect someone’s business card and after meeting them send an email to confirm that you met them and they have requested more information or to be added to a list. This allows you to have the necessary information needed for the burden of proof.

Filled out form


Someone fills out a form on your website with the intent of being placed on your list. A confirmation email would then be sent which requires a recipient to click a link to confirm they wish to be placed on the list. When they click the link, the date/time and IP stamp should be recorded.


A person gives you their email address over the phone with the intent of being placed on your list. The same process of sending a confirmation email applies, but express consent could be proven if you recorded the conversation for each recipient.



If someone expresses interest in your business as part of the sales process or enters their email address on your website to download educational material, they are to be considered “prospects” and implied consent is given to send commercial electronic messages for a period of 6 months only.






If a recipient is added automatically or is required to un-check a box to opt-out during a process, this method is considered implied and not express consent under CASL. As a best practice this should be avoided anyways as it will typically generate a large volume of emails flagged as spam which negatively affects your reputation as a sender. In order for it to be express consent, a recipient must go through an opt-in mechanism, as opposed to opt-out. The end-user must take a positive action to indicate their consent.

Check back as our next post will cover the fine print of CASL and processes that can be used during the three-year transition period in case you are not going to meet the July 1st deadline!

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: Commercial Electronic Messages

In our previous post about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation we briefly covered the law and provided some recommendations and considerations. In this post we will cover Commercial Electronic Messages. As defined by the law a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) is any electronic message that “encourages participation in a commercial activity” regardless of whether there in an expectation to profit. CEMs include:

  • Emails
  • Instant messages
  • Text messages
  • Any other electronic correspondence

Examples of CEMs:

  • Offers to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, a service
  • Offers to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity
  • Promoting a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything referred to above, or who intends to do so

Parts of a message to examine to determine if it encourages participation in a commercial activity include:

  • Content of the message
  • Hyperlinks in the message to website content or a database
  • Contact information in the message

Accordingly, businesses should consider removing all promotional messaging, including messaging promoting the business itself (e.g. an award or ranking) from electronic messages that are not categorized by the business as being a CEM to avoid having such messages caught by CASL.

In our post next week we will cover the four key requirements of CASL and specifically the types of consent and the burden of proof.

Playing the Relationship Game in Today’s Connected World: Insights from the LMA Annual Conference

John Simpson, CEO, and Kalev Peekna, Managing Director of Strategy for One North Interactive lead an engaging session during the LMA Annual Conference entitled: Playing the Relationship Game in Today’s Connected World. The session focused on the effects relationships have and how they can impact a firm’s business and opportunities.

John and Kalev showcased how other businesses are using interactive marketing to reach their clients at every point in their decision-making experience. They also shared how essential it is to align your digital marketing and business development efforts along “The Relationship Cycle.”

Relationship Cycle

From the session, the key lesson that resonated with me was that in the relationship cycle many firms are not participating in the “Active Evaluation” phase. It is in the evaluation phase that you can really learn about your business; then by following-up on the feedback, it formalizes a relationship and creates loyalty.
My favorite quote from the session reinforces this:

 “Loyalty counts more and costs less than awareness.”
– Harvard Business Review

It shocked me to learn from the session that only 1 in 8 (12%) of firms always meet up with their clients to see how satisfied the legal department was with their work and 18% NEVER meet with their clients to discuss satisfaction. By engaging your clients and asking for feedback it opens the dialogue so that in future situations if an issue arises they may feel more comfortable coming forward with issues or input. Client retention should be a key part of the marketing and business development plan.

INTERACT: Does your firm actively seek feedback?