Alt Legal Connect Session Summary: From Handshakes to Elbow Bumps: Tools, tips, and technology for winning new business in the #NewNormal
Alt Legal Team | September 13, 2021
On Monday, September 13, Chris Fritsch, JD, BD Technology Consultant and Founder of CLIENTSFirst presented the session, “From Handshakes to Elbow Bumps: Tools, tips, and technology for winning new business in the #NewNormal.” Chris explored the key marketing and business development technology that forward-thinking law firms are investing in to enable effective outreach, enhance relationship building and competitively position the firm.
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Chris began her presentation with a motivating statement: no matter the size of your organization, you can use tech to out-strategize your bigger competitors. By focusing on CRM and if you have the right tools, technology, and staff in place, you are going to have a competitive advantage.
What strategies should you focus on?
Top Clients: Even before pandemic, it was hard to keep clients. Focusing on clients, particularly top clients, is a good strategy.
Industries: One of the best things you can do is to try not to be everything to everyone. It’s important to hone in on key industries and showcase your deep expertise within those industries. Chris suggested that you can share your knowledge by attending conferences, sending alerts, and submitting to publications.
Locations: Another strategy is to become laser-focused on locations and geography. Try to find a niche geographic area and industry to focus on and provide a unique, specialized service.
Top Business Developers: At a larger firm, shift your focus to the top business developers at the firm. Give the most resources to the top rainmakers and maybe reduce hourly requirements so that they have more time to do what they’re good at and help get more business for the firm.
Efficiency and Automation Matter
Now that many of us are working remotely, we’ve had to learn to manage the flow of information without the flow of paper. We aren’t printing and going to copy machines anymore! It’s essential to be able to be efficient and effective and find what you need quickly. We used to be able to rely on others to do that, but now we can’t so we need to rely on people to learn more technology.
Why Marketing Technology Matters
Sharing our expertise and showcasing what we know, our ideas, and our experience is critical to business development and how to get new clients. Also, Chris asserted that targeting is really important – but without the right contacts and list, it is ineffective. Chris warned that you have to be careful about using old lists because if enough emails bounce, your email marketing provider will turn your account off. For a long time, all we had were names and emails, but that isn’t enough information. But it’s very important to have address information, particularly with GDPR requirements. Also, people are home now, we don’t have their home addresses! We need to think about how to re-target. Chris also mentioned that relationship targeting is so important – when deciding who will do a pitch, it’s about determining who has the best relationship with the potential client. Technology is available to help us determine who that person is.
What Marketing Technology is Out There Today
In addition to CRM, there is now technology called ERM (enterprise relationship management) which automatically creates contacts and identifies relationship strength. You can plug this into your other tools and get analytics about who is viewing your website and/or communications.
More and more, firms are focusing on lead generation – if someone signs up for an event, how can we nurture them, invite them to the right events and get them connected to the right attorney. Chris recommended tools including JD Supra and LinkedIn Navigator to help with these efforts.
Next, Chris mentioned that the biggest thing she’s seeing lately is to let the lawyers be lawyers! Instead of having them do data entry, which is not the best use of their time, use technology to build and clean lists automatically. There is way too much billable time wasted if everyone is reviewing everyone’s contacts on a list every time a firm does a mailing. This is not efficient or effective or a good use of anyone’s time.
What’s in Your Marketing Technology Toolbox?
CRM: Manage and categorize contacts, track/coordinate outreach efforts.
eMarketing: Use to send invitations/emails.
ERM: ERM started as a tool to mine relationships, it looked at email patterns in terms of how well someone knows someone else. It requires no human interaction – it just works! It evolved to take information from the signature block.
Pipeline: Allows you to track business development efforts including pitches, proposals, RFPs (individual or firmwide).
Analytics: Being able to see who is interacting and determine who are the firm’s best contact.
Webinars and conferences: While it’s great to have webinars, you also need to integrate webinar platforms with other tools to track registrants and attendees and have effective follow-up.
Better Understanding CRM
Chris next gave a deep-dive explanation of CRM – Client Relationship Management. CRM is a database, a mailing list, helps with tracking events, activities, and key interactions – what did we invite them to, what did they read, who took them to lunch, and who gave them a pitch. The problem is that attorneys need to enter this data. Some top firms do pay a lot of attention to activity tracking and they will track sponsorships. Firms that control this do better and get more ROI.
Chris explained that keeping up with CRM can be a lot. She mentioned that one large firm has 20 people in their CRM department including data stewards who keep the data clean. Of course, a small or mid-sized firm doesn’t have those types of resources. Chris mentioned that one of the most prominent firms in the world, while it isn’t huge, it has the highest profitability and ROI. Chris learned that they have 10 data stewards, which seems disproportionate with the number of attorneys they have. When she inquired about why they have so many data stewards, the firm explained that at their firm, the value of a relationship is $2.8 million and it is essential that the data be pristine! Firms that understand this and take it seriously understand that data must be kept clean in CRM. Managing this can be difficult. But at a small or mid-sized firm if you can have an ERM and connect it to an eMarketing tool, that can be a great solution to minimize data stewarding.
Chris explained that there are lots of different vendors to consider for example, Pardot, Marketo, and Eloqua, including some very specific to law firms like Interaction (larger/mid-sized firm solution), ContactEase (small/mid-sized firm solution), Legal360, OnePlace for Marketing, and Lawmatics (small firms; works well with Clio, which Chris loves!) At a smaller firm, you can use Mailchimp or Survey Monkey or a smaller provider like HubSpot. HubSpot allows you to leverage analytics to figure out sales leads – Chris believes we will see a lot more of that in the future.
Chris expects that we will see more of this in the future as well. Firms with large budgets can buy pipelines that integrate into their other tools, whereas smaller firms will do this on a spreadsheet, and that’s ok. Small firms can even find a good system for as low as $25/mo. Pipelines help you to keep up with your business development activities and remind you of information you’ve provided, when you’ve last made contact, who is responsible for the next step, and so forth. It’s a discipline to figure out how to run a pipeline.
How to Select the Right Technology for Success?
Chris said the most important thing to consider is people and process first, product second. We’ve always thought of CRM as a tool, but it’s more than that – it’s a strategy. It’s part of a stack of legal technology tools and if we start thinking about it that way, we’ll make better decisions about what we buy. It’s important to consider who is going to use the system – lawyers or business development professionals. It’s also important to consider the amount of resources (time, money, and people) the firm will be able to invest in the tool. Firms that succeed with tools like pipeline succeed not just because of the tool, but because of the people and resources they’ve invested in. Remember, CRM is not a project or initiative, it’s a fundamental change about how you manage your clients and relationships.
Tips for Firms of All Sizes
Lastly, Chris provided some helpful tips for firms of all sizes. She mentioned that content is key especially in our new normal digital age – we are doing more digital content than ever before. Good content boosts SEOs and provides more website views. You can adapt the content and publish to a blog or publish as an article in a publication. You can write an article and break it into multiple blog posts. Your goal should be to enhance distribution. Put content on LinkedIn, JDSupra, and anywhere you market. It’s particularly important to get your content published on a blog because while an email newsletter gets deleted, a blog is searchable and never goes away.
A few more tips:
Set metrics for success – Track what you’re doing even if you’re just setting up and getting tech rolled out.
Identify whitespace – There are tools that allow you to look at where you are doing work for a client. Anywhere that you are doing work for a client is a dollar sign, and where you are not is a whitespace. This is particularly helpful when you’re looking at where you can be doing cross-selling.
Lastly, Chris shared her CRM Growth Cycle infographic, showing basic to the most sophisticated uses of CRM. Be sure to check it out!