3 CRM Tips for Attorneys On How To 'Work' Relationships

by JD Supra Perspectives

Here’s an excellent article from Stuart Goodman, 7 BD Tips for Deepening Relationships with Existing Clients and Prospective New Client Executives.

I’ve known Stuart for over fifteen years and he’s one of the best sales reps I’ve ever known. His most important skill is understanding how to build and nurture long-term relationships. He makes it look natural, but I know that his success is underpinned by lots of hard work honing his craft. So, when Stuart offers up tips on relationships, I pay attention.

Stuart’s tip #6, Don’t give up, has a direct tie to attorneys using CRM systems for business development:

 “Often, executives will only take meetings through trusted connections. Work your way up through lower-level contacts or other trusted relationships.”

Working your way up through other trusted relationships implies that an attorney “works” relationships and doesn't simply rely upon intuition and luck.

It’s natural to work hard at maintaining close contacts, those where you already have a strong relationship with frequent touch points. It’s more difficult to form and nurture new, unknown connections to grow your network, yet this is the way to create new business opportunities. Your firm’s CRM tools can make this process easier to manage.

So here are my three tips for how attorneys can use a CRM to implement Stuart’s tip that will help you focus efforts in a more structured approach, save time and effort, and focus on implementing Stuart’s other tips on deepening relationships:

1. Create a targeted list of who you want to meet

Most CRMs will allow you to segment your contacts into lists for easy access and tracking. Having key contacts segregated lets you view and report on them more easily. For example, you can run a daily activity report for all of your targeted contacts each morning. Remember that that there may be activities generated by other attorneys that may know the same person; or there could be changes in contact information (such as job changes or email updates) that the CRM system automatically generates as activities.

2. Use CRM tools to connect and research

Both internal and external tools are helpful to identify possible paths to contacts. Your internal CRM is the first place to start, as connections identified through your colleagues ogten will have the most relevance to your business objectives.

Then use LinkedIn and other social media to ferret out other ways you can connect. Pay attention to online comments, articles - and groups in which you and a potential contact belong to identify interests and any common ground you may share. This will help facilitate Stuart’s tips number four, “Resonate personally, emotionally,” and number five, “Lead masterful conversations.”

3. Leverage the CRM’s tools for scheduling and tracking

CRMs provide tools to track and schedule yout business development efforts. Journaling your activities, such as emails, phone calls, and meetings, is a way to aid your memory, especially with infrequent contacts. It’s helpful to be able to look back at what was discussed or covered during your last contact. And the data can be useful for your year-end firm memo.

Most CRM systems have features for reminders to make sure no one falls through the cracks. CRM reminders are tied to the CRM contacts and are more permanent than Outlook pop-up reminders that tend to more of a nuisance than an aide.

Many attorneys are not aware on how to make use of CRM tools to help with their business development efforts. Employed properly, CRM tools can assist you to “work” your way up to develop and maintain valuable relationships. The best place to start is to work with your Business Development/Marketing department to develop a game plan and schedule some time for one-on-one instruction on the CRM’s tools that will help you implement your plan.


[Bill Vannerson is the Business Development Manager, CRM at Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Chicago office since January, 2015, and previously was the Database Marketing Manager at Foley & Lardner LLP’s Chicago office for 12 years. His experience includes developing firm CRM strategy and system implementation, eCommunication strategy and eMarketing platforms, internal and external data and application integration, list management, experience & credentialing database, market research, competitive analysis, and marketing systems training, support & maintenance.]

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