There is a common perception that small firms wouldn’t benefit from a CRM but that isn’t the case. While definitions of what a small firm is can widely differ, we have seen firms as small as 10 attorneys successfully use a CRM system in order to save time, keep their contacts in order and improve their marketing.
Instead of deciding by number of attorneys whether or not your firm needs a CRM it may be better to decide based on objectives. If your firm is satisfied in the current way you manage contacts, or you’re not interested in developing your marketing by tracking client and prospect engagement, adding a CRM probably wouldn’t be helpful.
Frustrations and Challenges Small Firms Face
While administrative tasks are probably among few people’s preferred things to do, small firms especially can be burdened by those activities because of their relative lack of staff. As the saying goes, “Lawyers would prefer to practice law”, or something similar, but it isn’t only applicable to attorneys. Professional staff can also save time with automation and direct more energy towards clients. Attorneys know they need to market their services and often feel a vague impression they could be doing more even as busy as they are. However, marketing in a scattershot manner and without a trackable plan won’t yield great results. That’s where a CRM can be especially helpful by adding analysis and accountability with easily referenceable data. With a legal CRM you can follow through and mark contact activity while also discovering insights from past marketing efforts including mailers and events. Also, the firm’s many relationships and communication with clients can be dynamically available for collaboration, instead of being reviewed as a boring administrative list.
Tech can get costly and small firms shouldn’t feel like they are just imitating large firms in all their various tech applications. Smaller firms still often want a CRM and don’t consider it optional. CRM technology is commonly offered on a pricing basis scaled to the size of the firm.
The commercial business world has long known CRM systems to be a fundamental tool to increase new accounts. With increased interest in business development, more law firms today are using CRM automation to track business opportunities as they are being pursued, for individual attorneys, practice group leaders, and firmwide. A good legal CRM will add significant value and not present ongoing technical complications for small firms. At its core a CRM should aid in simplicity even with all the sophisticated features it includes.
CRM as a Growth Tool for Small Firms
Many small firms become larger firms and having adaptable tech infrastructure in place can be an important part of the process. It’s especially helpful to have a good CRM before contact lists become larger and unwieldly. A quality CRM though will pay-off in the near term and not require the firm to “grow into it” just to be useful. Flexible and adaptable CRM systems should be able to cover an increasingly larger number of contacts and still be useful from the beginning.
CRM’s with adaptable features can cover the basics but also allow for implementing marketing practices as needed with increased levels of segmentation.
Without a team of marketing specialists, finding new clients can be challenging. Knowing your clients better is a great way to begin developing better targeted marketing. Individual attorneys may have a lot of internalized knowledge and intuition but recording things within the firm’s database can help leverage insights collectively. With custom data fields you track all sorts of things about clients. Knowing better who your clients are can help you find future ones.
Keeping tabs on contact history can be especially helpful when communications aren’t face to face given that so much more is being done remotely. Without a CRM that keeps things centralized, some details may get dropped in remote and hybrid work situations. Successful small firms know that winning decisions and providing excellent service isn’t the end of driving growth. Keeping in touch with clients can yield benefits and enhance the firm’s credibility in the community. Staying in touch with current and former clients will increase referrals.