Tech Partner Talks: Questions to Ask Every Tech Vendor

In the latest installment of our Tech Partner Talks series, ContactEase Director of Client Services, Amber Elliott and Documentation & Training Specialist, Sara Coffey discuss the importance of finding the right partner to move your projects forward and share some of the questions they think you should ask every potential tech vendor.

The wrong partner can really derail a project and potentially affect buy-in for future projects however the right partner can be your success for years to come. Check out the full broadcast on the Resources page of our website and read on for our top three questions to ask every potential tech vendor.

Question 1: Have you worked with law firms? How many?

At ContactEase, our focus is on professional services firms. Many of our clients are law firms and many of our team members are former clients. We know the legal industry. This is important because law firms are a unique business culture and if your vendor doesn’t understand that they may not be the best partner for your firm. The distinction becomes eve more important if your lawyers are going to be involved in the decision making process and also if they’re going to be using the product themselves.

If you’ve come to legal from another industry, you know that law firms just run differently. In addition to the pace, there are considerations like ethics rules, client service and a general understanding of the culture, language and work.

Early in Sara’s career, she would try to bring in friends for creative projects and it caused some frustration because often they just didn’t understand how law firms operated. I’ve also seen She also experienced frustrations with vendors who argued they could make it work because they’d done it a million times before and “how different could law firms really be?”

Question 2: Does your product integrate with other firm systems?

Integrations are popular for many reasons. We’re all looking for ways to improve efficiencies and ensure we have the best data in front of us. You may not be able to add more people, but you can leverage products and processes to make your work life easier.

When it comes to CRM, some of the most important integrations are with financial systems and email campaign platforms. An integrated ERM component is also a huge benefit:

Integrating your firm’s CRM and financial systems streamlines data entry processes. It can eliminate a lot of that back and forth between marketing and finance and help provide you with the most current information when and where you need it.

Marketing automation integrations like with Constant Contact for example or any other email campaign tool –  improve efficiencies for the marketing department – not only when it comes to getting your mailings out in a timely manner, but also to ensure that you’re getting those campaign metrics back into your CRM system where you can analyze and report on the effectiveness of the firm’s targeted marketing initiatives.

An integrated ERM tool ensures you are getting all of the firm’s contacts into your CRM system – even those that aren’t being entered by the attorneys. And even more importantly – you get critical relationship information so you understand not only who knows whom but who has the strongest relationship with each contact so you can truly leverage those existing relationships.

The systems you’ll want to integrate with will vary from firm to firm and depend on your unique goals, just keep in mind some products claim to do it all but when you integrate different platforms rather than look for one that keeps everything in one place you can ensure your products are doing what they do best.

Question 3: How is your product accessed? Is it on-premise or in the cloud?

Historically, law firms and the legal industry as a whole have been reticent to move their systems to the cloud. While many firms were beginning to look for cloud-based solutions, the pandemic of 2022 sped things up for many. When we’re talking about the cloud, it’s really just a way to say that files are housed offsite on “someone else’s computer.” Some firms are moving towards cloud-only solutions while others aren’t quite ready. Ultimately, its up to the firm. As long as there is need, we will always meet our clients where they are and where they want to be.

For further expansion on the questions above as well as more questions to ask your potential tech partners, visit the Resources page on the ContactEase website. Be sure to check back next week when we’ll be discussing how to build the right teams.

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.

The State of CRM at Law Firms: A Market-Wide Study

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Nearly 75% of all law firms have some sort of Client Relationship Management (CRM) system in place, yet respondents to a recently released survey indicate that few of their lawyers regularly use it. In contrast, ContactEase users report a higher-than-average utilization rate for their attorneys. The Ackert Advisory’s “The State of CRM at Law Firms” examines utilization, user experience and return on investment (ROI) of CRM platforms and their relationship to business development.

ContactEase was recognized by its users in a number of areas. Among the findings:

  • ContactEase (24%) and InterAction (45%) lead the CRM legal market with a combined market share of 69%.
  • ContactEase has increased its market share by 6% since last year’s survey.
  • ContactEase users reported a higher utilization rate than the overall market.
  • ContactEase users reported a lower level of data entry issues and a less complicated interface (in comparison to other CRM systems).
  • ContactEase users reported an average of 18% of lawyers use CRM regularly (the majority of survey respondents indicated 0-5% of their attorneys utilized CRM on a regular basis.

About ContactEase
ContactEase communicates with clients and prospects to enhance existing relationships and drive new business. In addition, ContactEase works with firms to develop ROI with business analytics and opportunity/pipeline management tools, and integrates with accounting and other systems.

ContactEase has a greater than 90% adoption rate due in part to its seamless Outlook integration, easy-to-use tools and a highly experienced support team. ContactEase can pull contacts from email, alert users of changes in their data, integrate with telephone systems, allow updates from mobile devices, allow contacts to RSVP online for events and update their own data.

Selecting the right CRM platform is essential to the success of any firm’s marketing and business development program. For more information about ContactEase and CRM best practices for getting buy-in, implementation, data management and ROI, visit our resources page.

ContactEase is used by over 250 law and accounting firms, with 16,000+ users worldwide. To read the report in its entirety, click here.

 

ContactEase CRM Welcomes New Law Firm Client: Osborn Maledon

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ContactEase CRM welcomes new law firm client Osborn Maledon PA with 50 attorneys located in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit them online at  www.osbornmaledon.com.

 

 

ContactEase CRM Welcomes New Accounting Firm Client: Haefele Flanagan

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ContactEase CRM welcomes new accounting firm client, Haefele Flanagan, located in Maple Shade, New Jersey. Visit them online at  www.hfco.com.

ContactEase CRM Welcomes New Law Firm Client: Paley Rothman

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ContactEase CRM welcomes new law firm client Paley Rothman with 40 attorneys located in Bethesda, Maryland. Visit them online at www.paleyrothman.com.

 

Getting Buy-In For CRM, A Step-by-Step Guide

handshake of businessmen.You’ve done your research: you know that CRM can maximize efficiency, help your department dramatically shrink the time it takes to organize mailing lists, and get targeted communications out the door and into the right hands. But first you have to convince management it is worth the investment.
Download our step-by-step guide to help you define the cost of not having a CRM…

http://www.colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

Webinar: Getting Partner Buy-In for CRM!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

2:00 PM ET – 3:00 PM ET

Register to attend – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/711881380025152769

Need CRM, but worried about getting buy-in?

Learn how to build consensus and understand the needs within your firm. Hear how others have obtained buy-in from management and most importantly, hear from management directly.

Firms realize the need to be more efficient, replacing existing systems like spreadsheets and obsolete products, but what does it take to move forward? Our panelists will teach you how, why and when to ask for CRM in your firm.

Our panelists will discuss:

  • How they won approval for CRM in their firms
  • What problems prompted the why CRM discussion within their firms
  • What was the process for identifying the internal champions
  • When did each of them make a business case for CRM and ultimately get it approved

Meet Our Panelists:

  • Paul Morton, Chief Operating Officer at Burns & Levinson, a Boston-based firm with more than 125 attorneys and offices in Providence and New York.  He is responsible for facilities, finance, human capital, marketing and business development, operations, strategic planning, and technology within the firm.  He has managed law firms for more than 30 years.
  • Paul J. (PJ) Sawchuk joined in 2006 Franklin & Prokopik, a mid-Atlantic law firm with about 65 attorneys focused on insurance defense.  In his role as Director of IT, he develops and implements strategic initiatives to align technology with business process. These responsibilities also include direct oversight of end user support operations, facilities and systems management, and leading interdepartmental projects.
  • Jaclyn Braga has worked in marketing for service industries for over 12 years. As the Marketing Manager at Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, PC, she led all marketing initiatives for the firm of 40 attorneys, including website management, social media development, advertising, and CRM roll-out and integration. Jaclyn recently moved to the accounting industry and now holds the position of Director of Marketing at Tonneson + Co.

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

CRM Data Management Best Practices Whitepaper

Data ManagementMaximizing Business Development and ROI

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 excellent, how would you rate the data in your client relationship management (CRM) system? It will never be perfect, but if it’s not close to 10, you’re not realizing the full potential of CRM. Misspelled names, incorrect addresses, incomplete information and duplicate records can limit the effectiveness of even the most powerful software. In short, the quality of your data is a key determinant of the success of your system.

Building and maintaining a clean and complete database can be a real challenge for a number of reasons, including:

  • Inconsistencies may exist between different databases utilized for different purposes (e.g. billing and mailing)
  • Professionals can be reluctant to share information about key contacts
  • Having no clear goals, no data management plan, and little or no training
  • Responsibility for maintaining the data is unclear
  • Data management is not a priority and falls to the bottom of to-do lists

Having clean, accurate, complete and up-to-date data is essential to CRM success.To find out what firms are doing to meet the data management challenge, ContactEase CRM convened a panel of professionals with extensive CRM experience and created a whitepaper to help you achieve success.  For the full whitepaper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

For more on data management and other aspects of CRM, please call ContactEase at 1-800-447-1212 ext 2 or visit colevalley.com.

ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC – Part 2, Planning

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For our last post, we shared  ROI:  How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift PC, Part 1, Need.  The five-part series will continue to focus on:  1) Need, 2) Planning, 3) Launch, 4) Benefits and 5) More Benefits.

Planning

Because Kim has a market research background, she started by asking the stakeholders what had gone wrong with the previous attempts to implement CRM and what they wanted the new system to do. In addition to surveying the attorneys, she held focus groups with support staff and brought in Chris Fritsch, who is also an attorney, to talk with key leadership about their expectations and the realities of CRM.

Doing all that helped to identify fears, pain points and needs, such as the ability to keep private any personal information put into the system (a separate notes field allows that), as well as to see who made changes to a record (an audit trail makes this possible). It also showed that about 60% of the attorneys were using Outlook to manage their contacts, which meant they were likely to use a system like ContactEase that integrates with Outlook.

Plus, involving the attorneys and support staff in the planning process helped them see how CRM could make things better, and that helped get their buy-in. With the help of several attorneys who championed the cause, Kim convinced the firm’s leaders to go with ContactEase CRM.

What’s up next  – Part 3 is the Launch…ROI:  How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. For the full whitepaper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

To be continued….