As a new team member at Stanton Allen, the past six months for me have been a journey into the world of CRM. A few of the questions that have struck me on my maiden voyage have included:
- What is CRM?
- Why is it important to business and the professional service industry in particular?
- How does one maximize the benefit and return on investment from such a system?
- What systems are available and how does one choose between them?
These are, of course, common questions that anyone looking to employ a CRM system for the first time, or change systems, will ask.
Attempting to broaden my own understanding has included attending CRM events such as a recent PSMG seminar. The event’s speakers – Michael Warren (Stanton Allen), Gillian Sutherland (Questas Consulting) and Claire Rason (Boyes Turner) – shared with us their knowledge and experience in the areas of Marketing, Data Management and Business Development within professional services firms, with a particular focus on how CRM technology can streamline and improve processes within these areas.
Of particular interest to attendees, and indeed Partners at many firms, seemed to be how to track established relationships. For example, how to identify whom within their firm knows which clients, for the purposes of cross selling services and maximising the potential of client relationships. Through data analysis and relationship management, CRM can answer the inevitable subsequent question “who do I contact to get an introduction to the client?” By demonstrating who within the firm has actively engaged the client recently.
Also of real interest was the overarching theme of Data Quality & Management, which is critical to making a CRM system successful. As we found out, data degrades at a rate of about 30% every year (as contacts move offices, roles, companies etc.) and therefore bad data can not only reduce the effectiveness of CRM but also reduce engagement of professionals. However managing all the data a firm has will unlikely be resource efficient. It is therefore important to have a focused approach to data management, concentrating on the companies and contacts that are the most important.
The delegates were really interested in how to increase buy-in and Adoption by professionals. It was generally agreed that those professionals who were skeptical of CRM tended to be so because they saw it as a marketing tool, rather than a tool critical for their own strategic business development. Top tips for changing this mindset included:
- engaging the leadership
- communicating constantly
- celebrating successes.
Although, arguably most important, is the delivery of key financial information from the CRM to professionals, as they tend to be most engaged when they can see their successes in financial terms.
One of the attendees recommended using professionals’ competitive nature to enhance engagement by using CRM data and reporting to rank them on a number of criteria. As it was pointed out “everyone wants to be at the top of the table”.
In summary, I learned that CRM can do a thousand things and therefore the trap when leading a CRM implementation is to bite off more than one can chew.
For this reason I recommend that you identify the top 3 things that the firm needs to be able to do, and then buy the technology accordingly.