As your law firm grows, dealing with the increased number of clients can become complex. After all, you need to keep tabs on what the current situation is with each client, as well as any communications you need to make with such clients in the future.
Additionally, as you’re servicing existing clients, you’ll also have to manage inbound inquiries from potential clients who are interested in using your services. When dealing with these individuals you need a way to record details about their situation, so that you can effectively take them from being a prospective client to an actual client.
Most marketing-savvy professionals and businesses use a ‘Customer Relationship Management’ solution (CRM) to address the communication and organizational challenges.
In this article, we’re going to look at what CRM entails and how you can use a CRM tool to ensure the smooth operation and growth of your firm. We’ll go through the benefits of using a CRM tool, as well as how you can get the best results when using one.
What is a CRM solution and how does it differ from practice management?
Many lawyers confuse CRM solutions with practice management software.
Practice management software is typically designed to help you manage existing clients and the overall smooth operation of your firm. Using such a solution you’re able to monitor and manage the development of existing cases that your law firm is dealing with, including billing.
A CRM solution, however, is designed to help you effectively manage prospect information so that you can grow and market your law firm with greater ease. It does this by helping you to keep track of inbound inquiries, their status, and what should be done to move them towards signup as clients.
Using a CRM database, you can create a centralized source of information that all partners in your law firm can use. Having such a database helps improve the efficiency of your firm, while also increasing the odds of discovering new revenue generating opportunities – all of which we will examine in further detail later in the article.
For now, remember that in most cases you’d be hard pressed to find practice management software that provides the same results as a dedicated CRM solution. And a good CRM solution like the one James provides can also automate many practice tasks, including form completion.
What are the benefits of using a CRM solution?
Estimates suggest that around 34% of law firms are currently using a CRM solution. When asked, 50% of respondents ‘agreed’ and ‘strongly agreed,’ that their CRM solution was providing measurable results, with over half also stating that a CRM solution allowed for ‘better client relationships.’
The same report listed the following benefits, as mentioned by law firms, when it comes to using a CRM solution.
- Increased collaboration between team members
- Improved ‘efficacy’ when serving clients
- Cost savings
- Increase in revenue and profitability
Many firms found that as relationships with clients improved (as a result of using a CRM tool), so did financial outcomes.
For instance, because of better client relationships, firms were now able to reduce attrition – meaning clients stayed with law firms for longer, thereby increasing the lifetime value of a client. Improving the relationships you have with your existing clients means that there will be less pressure for you to go out and win new business and spend money on marketing campaigns.
Keeping existing clients happy can be hugely profitable for your law firm, as in doing so you’re able to simultaneously cut costs and bring in new sources of revenue.
Varying studies have found that it is 5-25 times more expensive to obtain a new client, than it is to retain a client. Furthermore, 48% of law firms cited an ‘improved ability to cross-sell,’ when using a CRM solution – further improving the ability to generate revenue as a result of using a CRM.
If you can use a CRM solution to aid you with cross-selling your services, you’ll improve the chances of clients sticking around with your firm for a longer period time. All of which allows for you to benefit from the research mentioned above.
How a CRM solution can improve your marketing efforts
Knowing which marketing channels are providing the best results is valuable information. That’s because you can use such insights to educate where you should direct your marketing efforts in the future – as well as where you should stop spending money.
As you can see below, not many firms are tracking the ROI of their marketing and business development initiatives.
This second chart, further exemplifies the point that most firms only track the bare minimum, and don’t keep track of data that could help improve future firm growth.
Failing to track the right metrics will make it difficult to optimize your marketing. The problem, however, is that keeping track of metrics, which marketing channels are working and the ones that aren’t, can be a struggle – especially when you’re juggling everything else that comes with being a lawyer.
If you can track the right data, though, you’re provided with a competitive advantage – and with a CRM tool, you can make this possible. Let’s look at how this might work.
Suppose you have an inbound inquiry from a potential client. Upon receiving this inquiry, your CRM solution will create a contact file for the prospect.
When speaking to this potential client (and any other potential clients), you can ask them how they came to find you and what led to them calling you: organic search, pay-per-click ad, seminar, referral, review, etc.
After running your marketing campaigns for a month or so, you can then review all the information coming from your inbound inquiries, and judge how you should adjust your marketing budget and efforts to bring better results in the future.
You can also use your CRM solution to better manage the process of turning a prospect into a client.
It’s easy to forget that you need to follow up with a prospect with whom you were talking to just a couple of days ago. Yet by using a CRM solution, you can easily set up reminders that will help you keep track of what needs to be done in relation to specific clients. You’ll also be able to better track all the communications you’ve had with potential clients, and what steps you need to take next to turn them into paying clients.
Having such information can ensure that potential clients are dealt with efficiently, and that they aren’t experiencing any frustration due to you forgetting to act on something.
How a CRM provides a competitive edge that makes price less of an issue
Competing on price is hard. In fact, pricing is one of the top challenges law firms face when it comes to winning new business.
If your prospects and clients feel as though you’re thoroughly tapped into their needs, and that you understand who they are, they’ll most likely trust you more. This often leads to them being more willing to work with you now, and on any future cases that they might have to deal with.
When clients are working through the sensitive topics that often surround court cases, working with someone that they like and trust often beats working with someone who’s cheaper, but less in tune with their needs.
Using a CRM solution allows for you to build solid relationships with the clients and prospects engaging with your firm – providing you with an edge that’s hard to beat using price alone.
How to get the best results from a CRM solution
Just implementing a CRM solution won’t bring results in and of itself. You and your CRM provider need to make sure that the partners, associates, paralegals and staff are using the solution effectively. Lackluster employee buy-in will lead to a CRM solution delivering little to no results for your law firm.
In fact, 33% of firms have stated that ‘lack of employee buy-in,’ is one of the main reasons that a CRM solution did not work out for them.
Thankfully, there are some proven tactics that you can use to get members of your law firm to ‘buy-in’ and use a CRM solution.
First and foremost, make sure your CRM provider offers regular and adequate training on how the CRM solution can and should be used.
Second, the more that people use CRM tools and as more data is entered into them, the more helpful the CRM. You need to make sure, therefore, that everyone is using and entering information into the CRM system on a consistent basis.
There are a couple of ways in which you can encourage people to enter information into a CRM system consistently, over a long time horizon. The first is by your CRM provider explaining how a CRM tool can be beneficial for them, and the firm as a whole. You may also want to create certain rules, within your law firm, ensuring that the CRM is used during vital moments.
The Massive Financial Impact of Installing a Legal CRM
Is a CRM right for my legal practice? Is it worth the financial investment? Exactly how will implementing a CRM affect my bottom line?
We’ve compiled hard data about legal CRMs to answer those common questions asked by legal practices large and small. Read on to discover the financial implications of installing a CRM at your law firm, so you can decide whether this workload automation tool is right for you.
A Return of $8.71 For Every $1 Spent
According to an analysis of case studies by Nucleus Research, companies across a variety of industries can expect roughly $8.71 in returns for every $1.00 spent. This is a more than $3.00 increase in returns from Nucleus Research’s findings three years prior, where they estimated that the average benefit was $5.60 for every $1.00 spent.
This figure of course depends on how committed the law firm is to using their CRM, training staff, and developing a support system of tools surrounding the CRM (such as social media marketing or focusing on search engine optimization, which can funnel leads into the CRM system).
The Ackert Advisory’s 2015 report on “The State of CRM at Law Firms,” which surveyed 3,000 law firms in the U.S., found that about half of survey respondents claimed that less than 5% of attorneys at their law firms used their CRM regularly (at least once every two weeks). It comes as no surprise that many of these same legal practices also claimed that they couldn’t determine the return on investment (ROI) from their CRMs.
What does this mean? Overall, law firms can expect to see hefty returns for every $1 spent on implementing and utilizing a legal CRM… but only if they use it to its full potential.
Higher Billings Among Smaller Law Firms
When Blue Hill Research conducted an assessment of workload automation technologies among law firms, the organization found that:
- Smaller business law firms that adopted automation technology (such as CRMs) experienced greater total billing
- CRM-savvy smaller general practice firms saw a 9% increase in annual billings compared to the competition that didn’t adopt automation technology
- Smaller litigation firms experienced 14% higher billing when adopting tools like CRMs, as well as a 6% reduction in IT expenses
The data is clear—law practices, especially smaller firms, can see greater revenue from implementing a CRM.
This is true among Optimized Attorney’s own clients as well; Phoenix, AZ criminal defense lawyer Howard Snader went from receiving 18-25 calls per month from prospective clients to receiving more than 200 calls per month, using the James Legal CRM. His second quarter 2016 revenue was 41% higher than his Q2 2015 revenue!
Lower Marketing Costs (or More Effective Marketing Dollars)
There isn’t a law firm out there that is uninterested in decreasing their marketing spend. Let’s face it—marketing can be very expensive, especially for larger law legal practices that are constantly pushing for more prospective clients or smaller firms on shoestring budgets.
The good news: a legal CRM can shave down costs while making marketing efforts more effective.
- Cloudswave claims that a CRM can cut marketing costs by as much as 23% for some organizations
- Law Journal Newsletters explains that automation tools like CRMs can help law firms track key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify where they are losing potential business, and correct those pitfalls for a better close rate
In fact, by conducting a comprehensive cost-saving audit, Optimized Attorney discovered that Orange County probate attorney Phil Lemmons was wasting more than $14,000 per month on ineffective marketing and business spending. Now, with the help of the James Legal CRM and its suite of tools, Mr. Lemmons’ marketing efforts are far less expensive and more effective.
Greater Client Satisfaction and a Better Online Reputation
Blue Hill Research also found that a legal CRM helped law firms provide better service to their clients. Smaller general practice firms experienced a 12% higher rate of client satisfaction, while smaller litigation practices “handled 10% more matters with a ‘very high’ rate of client satisfaction.”
A CRM isn’t just about increasing revenue and cutting costs—it also enables law firms to automate time-suckers so they can focus on best serving their clients, which can lead to higher client satisfaction and a better reputation that attracts even more clients.
For instance, Washington personal injury attorney Loren Etengoff (a client of Optimized Attorney) has seen his caseload double, in large part due to positive online reviews that increase his law firm’s SEO and reputation.
He uses the online reputation management tool included in the James Legal CRM, which automatically sends out requests for online reviews. This enables Mr. Etengoff to spend valuable time on providing great service to his existing clients—the kind of service that makes his clients write such great reviews about his law firm. Now, 90% of new prospects mention the positive online reviews when consulting his practice.
Need Help Nurturing Your Firm’s Prospects?
Most lawyers understand that staying in front of their prospects with an educational series of follow-up letters is the best way to convert their not-quite-ready prospects to clients.
One of the best attributes of a follow-up educational series is that you write it once and it keeps working for years.
That doesn’t mean you can quickly slap one together and expect great results. No, a good educational series requires quality writing. Your series will be compared to others that the prospect is receiving, and the more helpful collection will be a major factor in the decision of which lawyer is chosen for representation.
To see examples of several strong follow-up series, you can examine the pieces in four collections we have posted on our website:
We also have follow-up series for Business Litigation, Immigration, and Social Security Disability.
These content collections are part of our Legal Content CRM, which automates prospect follow-up and review solicitation. We encourage you to take a closer look and see how our CRM can:
- Increase your conversion rate
- Provide you a book to display and hand out
- Build a collection of positive reviews
- Monitor on one dashboard all your key marketing data
- Save hundreds of dollars/month
To learn more and receive some personalized suggestions you can implement immediately, set a 15 or 30 minute appointment to review all your marketing with Michael Knutz, CEO, by clicking here.
Best Way to Stand out
It is extremely difficult for the average consumer to distinguish among lawyers.
Yes, you know which of your competitors do a good job for their clients. But when you are shopping for a surgeon, for example, can you pick out the one who should operate on you by looking at a website, advertisement, or flyer? Probably not.
How to stand out
Let’s say you are trying to select among three promising surgeons. Maybe all come recommended. You contact their offices.
The first office sends you an advertising brochure with the surgeon’s biography. The second office sends you nothing. But the third office gives you a book from the surgeon, a lengthy list of FAQs with detailed answers, and a booklet on the procedure you are considering. And the helpful educational pieces continue flowing while you make up your mind.
Now you have something tangible on which to base your decision. Not a brochure saying “I care” and listing which schools the surgeon attended. And the material you received has answered most of your questions in far more detail than most busy surgeons provide beforehand.
Which surgeon has earned your trust?
We have large content collections
Our collections are specialty-specific, come branded with your name, photo, and bio, and are pre-loaded in our versatile and intuitive marketing automation software.
Most important, the quality is unrivaled. After 35 years of publishing law books, we have learned how to clearly convey helpful legal information. You receive:
- A 100-250 page book
- Extensive and detailed FAQs
- Colorful booklets
- Procedure flow charts
- Flow charts
- Plain-text cover emails
You can view our collections, including how they are provided to your prospects, by clicking any of the specialties below:
Content and advice included
— Personalized marketing advice
— Strategic technology recommendations
— Ereader law books for your library
— And content for your prospects
Our complete content collections are reserved for licensees of the James Content CRM, but we will provide several quality pieces to subscribers to our other services.
If you would like to receive personalized marketing and technology recommendations from our president Michael Knutz, you can make an appointment by clicking below. You will receive some suggestions you can implement yourself and some for which you will need to obtain new technology.
Want to be a book author? Don’t have time to write one?
There’s a better than average chance you answered “yes” to both questions in the headline.
After 35 years of seeking authors to write law books we have learned that (1) most lawyers would love to be book authors, and (2) very, very few are able to carve out the needed writing time.
Despite that lack of lawyer-writing time, prospective clients still:
- Download thousands of free law books
- Need to be educated about their legal issues before they retain counsel
- Have great respect for lawyers who are book authors
We have produced six high-quality books for legal consumers:
- Bankruptcy Answers & Issues (296 pages)
- You’ve Been Arrested. What Happens Now? (180 pages)
- Divorce: A Practical Guide (161 pages)
- I Was Injured in an Accident. What Do I Do Now? (123 pages)
- Drunk Driving Defense Strategies (257 pages)
- Are You Likely to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits? (111 pages)
These books are not like the skimpy, simplistic, and low-quality pamphlets you see offered on the sites of some lawyers.
The writing in our books is the same top-drawer, practitioner-drafted work that we have been producing for lawyers for over three decades, but directed at and written for consumers.
Your name added
The book will be branded with your name, photo, biography, and contact information. And you are welcome to add some pages or even a chapter, if you have the writing time available.
We provide both PDFs and hard copies so you have books to display in your office and your lobby, and to hand out to high-value prospects.
How to obtain your book
Our books are provided at no charge to subscribers to our Legal Content CRM, along with extensive follow-up series that include detailed FAQs, four-color booklets, process flow charts, and plain-text emails.
Prices start at $1,000/month for a fully-content loaded CRM, unified marketing dashboard, and online-review generation software.
Click here to learn more and obtain a 15 or 30-minute personalized marketing consultation with our president Michael Knutz.
Prospect Content for 4 Legal Specialties
We are giving away licenses to use some of our high-quality content for prospects.
For an unlimited time period and with no strings attached, you may use any of the pieces listed below to educate and attract prospective clients:
- Email: 10 Things to Do Before You File Bankruptcy
- 9-page PDF: 23 Errors Commonly Made by People Who File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer
- 6-page PDF: Your Vehicle in Bankruptcy
- 4-page PDF: What to Expect at Your First Meeting with a Bankruptcy Lawyer
- Email: Rescheduling Initial Telephone Call
- Infographic: Key Events in Typical Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcies
- Email: Can You Get the Evidence Against Me Tossed Out? With Information Sheet
- 10-page PDF: 19 Things Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Wishes You Knew
- 5-page PDF: Action List When Your Loved One is Arrested
- 4-page PDF: Flowchart of Fourth Amendment Protections and Exceptions
- Email: 7 Ways a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
- 4-page PDF: What to Expect When Visiting a Loved One in Jail
- 25-page PDF: Tips and Suggestions for Surviving Your Divorce
- 8-page PDF: 21 Initial Questions About Divorce
- 5-page PDF: Reducing the Chaos Created by a Divorce
- 1-page PDF: FAQs About Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
- 7-page PDF: Telling Your Children, with Parenting Guidelines
- 1-page PDF: FAQs About Attorneys’ Fees
- 14-page PDF: FAQs About Personal Injury Claims
- 4-page PDF: Personal Injury Case Flowchart
- Email: Writing a Winning Demand Letter
- 4-page PDF: What Adjusters Look for in Medical Records
- Email: Common Insurance Adjuster Ploys
- 6-page PDF: Personal Injury Financial FAQs
Why are we giving away so much content? It is our way of introducing you to one feature of our Legal Content CRM, which comes pre-loaded with dozens of pieces of killer content.
Growing a law firm is no easy task. With so many firms trying to compete for clients, setting yourself apart from the competition can be a challenge.
Building better relationships and providing a better client experience, however, is something that can help you stand out. Better relationships mean more trust. And increased levels of trust can lead to more business, as well as more repeat business and more referrals.
If you want to build better relationships, CRM tools can help.