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The real questions you need to ask when evaluating CRM systems

Evaluating CRM systems for adoption by your firm is more complicated than ever. 

When I was involved in my first CRM selection process in 2008, our primary focus was on what system would be the easiest for our practice staff to use. While reporting capabilities were a consideration, at the time it didn’t carry the same weight as usability. We needed a system our people would actually use.

It doesn’t matter how good it is if nobody uses it

We were converting from a lotus notes system and our challenge was user adoption. Staff told us the CRM system was difficult for them to use because they couldn’t remember the instructions for adding contacts or appointments. 

Because they didn’t use it often, they never really learned how, So when they did need to use the system, they were constantly frustrated;  . 

We desperately wanted to create an easy-to-use system where our practice staff gladly entered and updated their data without complaining. In return for the higher adoption we would get a better data set. 

New times, new challenges for evaluating CRM

Today, we have advanced beyond that dilemma, and I believe we need to expand the goals we set for our CRM system and the criteria we use to evaluate a new system. Why you ask?  Data input is now largely automated (or capable of being automated) as we enable intelligent interfaces that streamline CRM data entry, data updates, and data cleansing. With the today’s automation we can reach the highest level of practice staff participation we have ever achieved. As a result, we create a more robust collection of firm data. 

This enhanced data set coupled with the continued evolution of other marketing technology creates our best opportunity ever to uncover new opportunities hidden in our data. We can shift our time from user adoption and training to finding new ways to interrogate our expanded data set for new business opportunities. In return, we can make a higher contribution to our firm’s growth efforts. 

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We expect a lot more from our CRM these days

Meeting these new goals puts more demands on our CRM systems. Today if we can assume that data input and data cleansing tools like Introhive will make data input effortless, our system requirements need to expand to include reporting, integration, and data exports. ‘

Specifically, these additional considerations play a much greater role in our CRM evaluation:

  • Report writer capabilities: How easily can we create ad hoc reports?
  • Integration: How easily does the CRM system integrate into other software in our marketing technology stack (both today and future additions)?
  • Updates: What is the CRM vendor’s process for software updates? Does the update process function with our IT resources and required updates created by customizations and integrations?
  • Export Capabilities: How easy is it to export the important data to our data warehouse for advanced manipulation? 

If we can get this end-to-end process right, we can change the CRM promise. In the past, the effort to input data usually outweighed the benefit that any individual partner received from taking the time to add their data into the firm wide data set. But tomorrow, with data input made easy we can increase their ROI for sharing their data. 

As we interrogate the data for strong prospects, we can create pursuit teams with people who have shared connections to our targets in CRM. They can be added to more new business efforts, just for including their data. 

Now that is a true quid-pro-quo in my book.

To learn more about how Introhive can help you make all your CRM dreams come true, come talk to us.  

About the author

Jeff Antaya is a blogger, author, and well-respected marketer. Art, technology, and creativity are important influences on Jeff‘s life and have shaped his career. As an early participant in the cellular telephone industry, Jeff witnessed firsthand the impact new technology can have on business success. Before retiring from Plante Moran in 2020, Jeff was a strong proponent of adopting and leveraging digital technology to increase the contribution of Marketing to firm growth. His efforts were rewarded when the firm named him the first Marketing Partner and Chief Marketing Officer in 2012.

Jeff believes that the digital revolution will continue to transform marketing. He consults, speaks, and writes on the future of marketing and works to help organizations prepare for success. Jeff outlines the path in his 2021 book titled “Don’t Ride a Dinosaur into Your Battle for New Clients.”

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