The Strong Silent Type

The Strong Silent Type

All too often in law firms when we talk about
marketing failures or look for new marketing successes, we look to see how
“other industries” are doing it. We look at the marketing spend of
consumer goods companies which make our budgets look like a small child’s
allowance.  We bemoan not having enough
money to really make a difference or we lament the time and energy spent on
directory submissions for minimal tangible ROI, yet we still participate in these things marketing activities since we
are bound by the street rules of the legal marketing game.  When we think about legal marketing, I think
we would all agree, that despite the smaller budgets that our B2C counter parts, we have evolved beyond pricey tickets to sporting
events, and are focused on content or account marketing. Yet, despite the laser  focus
on true client development we still struggle.

We struggle to make the impact on our firms that we
believe marketing is having in other industries.  Lately, I can’t help but think the answer (or
part of it anyway, but this is a blog, so let me think big and unrealistic),
lies not on the marketing communications side of the equation, not even in the
traditional business development side either, but in the CRM or sales cycle
part. The part with the dirty word (sales) and the acronym most people still
struggle to really understand outside of “invite list” or “mailing
list”.  I have written before about
how I think CI is really or should really be about CRM+. More and
more, I am starting to see how these two functions, that are often behind the
scenes – the introverts next to their extrovert MarCom buddies, the strong
silent types that comb through data, deserve more attention in the client
conversion or retention conversation.  

Regardless of what CRM system a firm is using or even more to the point
where there is no formal CRM system in place, there is often resistance to
having contacts and related activities shared within a firm. Whether owing  to the law firm as
hotel-for-lawyers mentality, privacy issues, fear that others will ruin the
relationship, lack of trust among partners or some other reason lawyers
generally don’t want to share their contacts and firm’s have yet to find a good
way to change that behaviour en masse. 
There are always exceptions to the rules, but if you talk to your
friends at sales organizations, the CRM system if the life blood of the
organization and those that don’t share are the exception.  Not only are contacts shared but client
touches are also shared – who has had dinner with whom, who sent pricing information
and when, responses to pitches are recorded and client lessons are shared on
the go through the CRM system. Occasionally, I am a the target of these sales
pitches and for a moment I am always surprised that a new, or new-to-me sales
person knows so much about me and my relationship to the organization.  Then
I remember I am but a record in the company’s CRM system and a smart sales person will look me up
before making contact and will therefore intimately know my history of
engagement, how I feel about a product or service, who my account reps is
and so forth before even picking up a phone. They may even know some personal
details about me to help break the ice. Combine this knowledge with sales
training or soft skills around appropriate communication so as not to come off
creepy or stalker-like and imagine what you can do.  What if you had the ability to call a client
on any given day, and say something like “Hi, I see you are subscribed to
our X Practice newsletter and received our most recent update on issue  Y, I know you had lunch with Partner W last
week, but I still wanted to follow up to see if you had any questions and to
invite you to an event we are hosting on related topic Z. I believe partner W
and some of his clients you might want to meet will also be there “  There is real value in that for clients, instead of waiting for the phone to ring with a retainer, lawyers can be proactive in providing client service that is tailored, builds the firm’s and the lawyer’s relationship, engenders trust and requires very little effort other than consistent recording and reporting on the part of the lawyers and the CRM professionals.  All you need to
know who is subscribed to what, who is reading what and who is taking whom for
lunch or to a golf tournament. Being able to connect those internal dots, along
with knowing is what happening in the client’s organization or industry so you
can help your clients avoid surprises or capitalize on market activity – including your firm’s own bespoke networking events, is client service euphoria. 
Data is driving
insights across all kinds of disciplines from healthcare to retail, data is
also driving revenue for all kinds of B2C companies, culture is the only thing
standing in the way of making data driven client service a reality for law
firms as well. Its a simple methodology that does take some data clean up and data strategy, along with a workflow assessment, but with the right people in place and a culture that supports client service above all else it can happen.  CRM and CI might not
have all of the glitz and glamour you associate with legal marketing, branding
and social media buzz, but I do believe that partnered together and used
effectively as in the example above, these two strong silent types can effect real and tangible change
for firms. 
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Published at Thu, 02 Mar 2017 14:43:00 +0000