Recently, a firm didn’t have CRM in their 2016 budget and they were able to buy this year taking advantage of a leasing option. ContactEase has a leasing partner that can help make your investment more affordable. With today’s low-interest rates, a lease program will allow you to preserve your cash and spread project costs over a 3-year period for a low fixed rate monthly payment. Additionally, they offer the following value added services for ContactEase clients:
90 Day Deferral – you have the option to defer the start of your rental payments for up to 90 days from the project start date.
Quarterly or Monthly Payments – you have the option to choose monthly or quarterly rental payments.
Progress Payments – First American can make any deposits or milestone payments to Cole Valley on your behalf prior to project completion.
No fees – your program has no fees of any kind.
Please contact Brenda Sleeper at email@example.com or 800-447-1712 ext. 805 for more information.
ContactEase CRM helps firms acquire and retain clients by ensuring that the right people get the right communication at the right time. Greater than 90% adoption results from seamless Outlook integration, easy-to-use tools, and a highly experienced support team. ContactEase is used by over 250 law and accounting firms, with 16,000+ users worldwide.
Part 1 of our five-part series on ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift PC
Wouldn’t you like to see numbers like these at your firm?
$53,463 in annual savings on newsletter costs
200% increase in the number of newsletters
sent out annually
700% reduction in time spent on data entry
$15,600 in annual savings on list management costs
$121,973 in fees from three new Ag Law clients
149% ROI on your CRM investment
Those are just some of the benefits that Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, a 95-attorney law firm based in Lansing, Michigan, has realized from implementing ContactEase CRM — and that your firm can enjoy, too. Others include a more accurate and easier-to-update database of 42,000 records, the ability to readily track and manage business development activities by type, and the ability to manage client compliance with employee benefits laws and maintain related forms and correspondence.
According to Kimberly P. Hafley, Director of Marketing & Recruitment for Foster Swift, here’s why the firm chose ContactEase and what it did to realize those benefits and facilitate business development.
When Kim joined Foster Swift in 2009, the firm had seven databases, including 7,000 records that were only on old-fashioned paper Rolodex cards. Entering data and maintaining records was a nightmare. As a result, many people were getting multiple copies of mailings, or mailings were returned as undeliverable. The costs were huge. For example, for one estate planning mailing that required an oversized envelope, the unit cost was $2.50. Of the 4,000 mailed, 500 came back — a waste of $1,250.
The firm had tried but failed twice to implement CRM. One reason was that CRM was totally Marketing’s responsibility, but Marketing did not have access to all information, and there was no system for getting database changes to Marketing. So if Marketing was not given a new name or address, the database was not updated. Another reason was that the CRM system was proprietary, so it didn’t interface with anything else and was the equivalent of adding yet another database. “The partners thought that all you had to do was buy a CRM program, plug it in, press a few keys and everything would magically work,” says Kim. “Of course, it didn’t.”
The catalyst for trying CRM a third time was a mailing that went to the home of an important client who had given strict instructions that nothing was to be sent to his residence. This event resulted in a prominent senior shareholder sharing his displeasure with both Kim and the firm’s Executive Committee, resulting in approval to research CRM options. So Kim asked a consultant that had helped her successfully update Foster Swift’s website to recommend a solution.
“I was very gung-ho and thought we would be able to go all-out with CRM right from the start. But Jennifer and Chris noted that our firm had already had two failures and suggested that we slow down and take baby steps. — Kim Hafley, Director of Marketing, Foster Swift
Kim was referred to Chris Fritsch, who consults with law firms on CRM. Chris suggested that they look at three CRM providers, including ContactEase CRM from Cole Valley Software. Kim talked about ContactEase with several firms that use it, including Ulmer & Berne in Columbus, Ohio, Sherin & Lodgen LLP in Boston, and UHY LLP in Chicago. She was impressed by what she heard, as well as by the helpfulness of Cole Valley CEO Jeff Reade and Chief Brand Officer Jennifer Whittier in identifying what she needed to do to successfully implement CRM.
“I was very gung-ho and thought we would be able to go all-out with CRM right from the start,” Kim says. “But Jennifer and Chris noted that our firm had already had two failures and suggested that we slow down and take baby steps. We had to get clear about what we needed and get buy-in from the attorneys before we launched a new system.”
What’s up next week – Part 2 is Planning…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
How you go about implementing a CRM system matters. To help you avoid mistakes and maximize success, we’ve put together the following list of takeaways from a peer panel discussion, key questions to ask yourself, and best practices to follow for achieving and maximizing CRM success. For more tips on CRM Implementation Best Practices and what 3 leading firms did to achieve success, download our whitepaper – http://www.colevalley.com/Resources.aspx
Key takeaways for CRM Implementation:
Audit the data – where is the data, inventory the partners and lawyers Outlook contacts
Develop a flowchart of your communication – how many steps does it take get targeted relevant communication out the door before CRM
Create a Focus Group, CRM team and/or survey team members
Find a champion on the management team to help drive the process
Consider an RFP for vendor selection – look for a partner to support you through the process
Use a Phased-In approach to reach your goals and prioritize your objectives
Apply CRM to help the firm with all of your processes
Consider a one on one approach to training and solicit feedback for improvement
Celebrate victories – keep a file of your wins and share the results
Add a little sugar – all good decisions are backed with cupcakes and cookies.
For more on these and other aspects of CRM, please call ContactEase at 1-800-447-1212 ext 2 or visit colevalley.com.
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.
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!
Last week we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 3, Implementation. This is our CRM five part series: 1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.
Part 4 – Data Management
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 data steward who assumes the primary responsibility for managing the accuracy and reliability of a firm’s data.
Hear from these panelists how, if you practice good data management and implement a constant cleansing process for your CRM, you will be able to actually realize its full potential. That’s when your CRM data is really an asset!
Kim Hafley comments:
We use CRM as a broad data management system. We have in it not only clients, but also referral sources and people who attend our events or subscribe to our newsletters or blogs.
Before CRM we had seven databases and knew that people were getting multiple copies of mailings. So we focused first on getting that data cleaned, because we knew that from a business-case perspective, we’d be able to show that we were providing better client service, saving money on printing and postage, and ultimately getting the materials to people on a more timely basis. That was phase one.
We also knew that each of our attorneys has a business development account, and we had a system where the data was getting entered three times, which was obviously very ineffective. So we worked with Cole Valley on using the tracking module to come up with asystem that enables the attorney or the attorney’s secretary to enter a business development expense, get reimbursement and create a report.
We also helped marketing use the module to create a tracking system that shows how much we’re spending on entertainment versus individual corporate sponsorships. So it’s been a win-win all the way around. We’re actually working on phase four right now.
“If you spend time on the front end making sure that your data is the best it can be, you’re going to be a lot better off. The data stewards aren’t going to have much in the way of cleanup.” — Kim Hafley
Barbara Joseph comments:
Having a data steward really helps us get the most from CRM. She can run all kinds of reports, and see changes or updates to the data that have come through. Particularly when a new attorney syncs his or her data with the database, the data steward looks at it and notices if there are any process errors. If so, she goes in and tries to correct them. Otherwise, it’s that junk-in, junk-out issue. The reports she runs at different intervals really help, and ContactEase has all those reports built in so you can easily get them. That’s been very helpful.
It’s easier to manage shared contacts if each of our attorneys doesn’t have 2,000 of them in the system. CRM enables our attorneys to choose whether to share an Outlook contact, or keep it personal. We’re not asking them to delete anybody from their overall contacts, but just to choose which to share with the overall system. If they haven’t had any contact with someone in the past five years or can’t verify that the person is alive or dead, we ask them to make that contact personal or delete it.
Joy Long comments:
When I did the audit I mentioned, one key question was “Where does all the data in the firm lie?” I’m not just talking about the mailing lists, but also Outlook data, Excel spreadsheets and maybe industry lists or other mailing lists.
I wanted to look at that from the get-go and determine where the communities of data were and what made the most sense in how to bring it in. It’s very easy to end up with garbage in, garbage out, so you essentially get one shot at this. Finding and cleaning the data took six to seven months, because it was like building a layer cake. How do you bring in new data so you don’t put garbage on top of clean data? That was really a huge challenge for us.
If you spend time on the front end making sure that your data is the best it can be, you’re going to be a lot better off. The data stewards aren’t going to have much in the way of cleanup, and it won’t take as long as before. It’s still critically important, because once you let it go, it goes downhill really fast.
Last week we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 2, Planning and Budgeting. This is our CRM five part series: 1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.
Part 3 – Implementation
This is where the rubber meets the road. How you go about implementing your CRM system can determine whether it is successful, as well as whether you maximize the benefits you get from it. Here are some things the panelists suggest to do or keep in mind as you put CRM to work for your firm.
Kim Hafley comments:
For me, the key to implementing CRM is figuring out your main goal, identifying a champion and getting feedback from staff. So if your culture is the type where your people have input into the process, they are much more likely to follow and use a system that they feel they are a part of creating.
“When you’re thinking about implementation, think about training the end users and realize that the needs of different users are probably going to be different.” — Kim Hafley
While it’s easy to get excited about all the bells and whistles a CRM system has, it’s important and easier to be successful if you pick one feature as a goal, implement it, and then track the metrics involved that prove you were successful in realizing benefits. Then you can go on to phase two and phase three.
When you’re thinking about implementation, think about training the end users and realize that the needs of different users are probably going to be different. In our focus groups with support staff, we were able to get a good handle on what the secretaries needed to feel successful using CRM, what the paralegals needed, and what they thought the attorneys needed. This led to our doing a lot of one-on-one training. You may
think that’s not very efficient. But it turned out to be incredibly efficient for our culture because we were able to go through a checklist and make sure everyone had a core competency.
We were also able to ask how firm members thought CRM might benefit them, or what immediate benefit they saw, whether it was being able to see what other newsletters a client might be receiving or who else in the firm might know the client. This made the training personal, so people felt more responsible for the system, and it really helped us in keeping the data clean over the long haul, because people realized how important that is.
In the focus groups we also looked at the data fields. Everybody’s got a preferred way of entering data; for example, whether they use titles or put nicknames in the name field. We told the groups that we can have only one way to enter data, and we’re not going to be able to accommodate everything. Instead, we need to find a common denominator and agree upon a standard. This exercise helped immensely, because we had dialogue and people felt involved. So if a field wasn’t what they preferred, they understood the reasoning behind it.
The other thing that helped was to appoint a data steward who enters the data not only for the marketing system but also for the accounting system, so it’s the same person. That suggestion came out of our focus groups. Implementing it made the staff feel that their concerns and ideas are listened to. So they are very “bought into” the system and continue to come up with great suggestions.
Barbara Joseph comments: The one aspect of implementation I did not appreciate enough, but certainly do now, is the different levels of what I’ll call “housekeeping” that people do for their Outlook contacts. I just didn’t realize how bad some of the attorneys’ housekeeping was. One had the same person in his contacts seven times at seven different jobs. As the person changed jobs, the attorney just kept putting in a new record and never took out the obsolete entries. Even though we were very clear in our request on what we wanted people to do and share, they took the easy route sometimes.
“It really helped to be able to get on the phone with Cole Valley and ask what I should do. They had done so many implementations that I never threw anything at them they hadn’t already encountered.” — Barbara Joseph
Also, we initially felt that more was better and encouraged people to add in all of their contacts and relationships. But a lot of the older contacts were not current. That muddied up our data.
We’re more watchful now as data comes in. That’s one of the reasons we slowed down the implementation and brought in smaller groups of attorneys at a time. That helped us control the data.
As analytical as I thought I was and as much homework as I did on CRM, many times I hit a fork in the road during implementation and would have to make a decision about something I hadn’t considered. It really helped to be able to get on the phone with Cole Valley and ask what I should do. They had done so many implementations that I never threw anything at them they hadn’t already encountered. That kept me from taking the wrong fork or just being paralyzed, not sure which way to go.
Joy Long comments:
The first time I rolled out a CRM system, I rolled out everything at once. The problem wasn’t that firm members didn’t like CRM or that it didn’t eventually succeed, but that it was too much all at once. The main thing I’ve learned is to phase in CRM. This keeps it exciting and new, rather than giving so much information at once that people’s heads are going to explode.
This time I was able to break down the implementation process and focus on what the new users absolutely needed to know and do. Going one step at a time starts to embed the system into people’s everyday activities and teaches them something that’s simple yet helpful. Then you can build on that. Being realistic is key.
Last week we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 1, Getting Buy-In. This is our CRM five part series: 1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.
Part 2 – Planning and Budgeting
Since CRM software enables you to not only manage client contact information and mailing lists easily and efficiently, but also to integrate contact information with your time and billing system, Outlook, and VoIP phone system, as well as to schedule events and identify cross-sell opportunities, it can be very powerful.
But to get the most out of it, you can’t just plug and go. You need to determine what you want to do with CRM, budget for it, and then allow time for planning and preparation. Here’s what the panelists had to say about that.
Kim Hafley comments: There’s a lot of baby steps involved in implementing CRM. We broke the process down into a couple of key projects so we could show what the current situation was and how CRM would make it better. We had hoped to get CRM going the same year we started, but because we moved slowly and methodically, it spread out over two budget years. It was about 10 months between when we started looking at systems and when we kicked off CRM with a firm-wide meeting.
Barbara Joseph comments: We split our CRM startup, as well as the budget for it, over two years. Because of the recession when we started in 2009, and the fact that CRM would be a major purchase, it was about 14 months from the time we started the RFP process until we implemented the system.
Because our database was so bad, I started by doing an audit of our attorneys to find out how many contacts they had and how they were managing them. It ran the gamut from business cards, Rolodex, and Word document to Excel spreadsheet and Outlook. But we were pleased to find that 60% of our attorneys were using Outlook contacts, which showed they could use a system like ContactEase that integrates with Outlook.
“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. ” — Joy Long
We then looked at a lot of different products and talked to a lot of people. Also, we did focus groups internally to find out what we would want besides basic contact information so we could categorize contacts. Then I wrote a detailed RFP that covered all the different items we were looking at and their costs. I was willing to push for CRM because I believed that once people could see the system in motion, they would support it.
Joy Long comments:
Two months after the botched mailing I mentioned, the word came down that we were going to move forward. We purchased CRM a few months later, and then it took about two more months to get ready and start implementation.
One thing I’ve learned from doing three CRM implementations is that you need to keep your plan simple. You see so many bells and whistles and possibilities when you’re trying to buy a CRM. But when you get down to brass tacks, what do you really need?
Cole Valley was great about providing us with an implementation plan that gave us a base for developing one tailored to our firm. This is where you have to be absolutely realistic. I’m not saying to under promise and over deliver, but to be realistic about what your staffing is and what you can do and accomplish, knowing what your company’s needs are.
Another thing I’ve learned is to never say: “Let’s just get the product and I’ll worry about how to keep it running correctly later.” For me it’s important to have a full-time data steward, someone who is in charge of the database and has primary responsibility for data cleanup. This is something you have to think of when you’re budgeting for CRM. If you’re not looking at how you’re going to keep the data clean, I don’t know how CRM is not going to fail.
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.
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.
Kim 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.
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.
Joy Long comments:
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 – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx