A few weeks ago I had a chance to spend some time with my team in our new Chicago office. If you know Chicago, it’s a great city with great people, great food, and a strong business community. We flew the team in so that we could put some focus on new hire onboarding, strategic planning and, of course, our clients.
At one point during the week, we spent some time whiteboarding strategy for some great new product features that we’ll be releasing in Q2 (stay tuned!), sales operations, and general sales/marketing practices.
But as we poured through ideas and data, it really hit me just how much professional services firms are changing how they view technology. The days of a BlackBerry, a rolodex and traditional/legacy software really are behind us and firms are asking for more. The norm is no longer enough, and as vendors, we need to listen to our clients to truly understand what it is they need our help with.
With changing technology needs, it’s harder than ever for professional services firms to increase the ROI of their technology investments. Their solutions are slow to address their new needs, causing their potential returns to decline. Luckily, I have some advice for how you can turn your ROI around and make sure your technology vendors truly have your back.
The Changing State of Technology
In the last quarter at Introhive, we have built on the success of a 50,000+ seat global deployment at one of the Big Four Professional Services firms and have added some great clients to the Introhive ecosystem. For example, firms like WilmerHale and McCarthy Tetrault are actively trying to better understand their relationships and solve their CRM adoption challenges.
We even hear remarkable stories from accounting firms like Kaufman Rossin who saw a 6x return on investment by identifying a single engagement using the Introhive platform. It reminds me of how different the technology conversation was for us as recent as three years ago within the professional services industry.
Terms like “artificial intelligence”, “machine learning,” and “predictive insights” were still alien to many firms in those days. Now, I see posts in forums every day where people are asking for these things – a sign that the landscape is changing and we, as technology vendors, need to support that.
The Technology ROI Problem
The demographics at professional services firms are changing, and we need to cater to younger generations who have expectations of progressive thinking and innovative tools that enable them to be more efficient in their day to day. However, the challenge is that firms are still using legacy technology, which, on the surface promise great things, but really haven’t changed much to support the new way of doing business.
The way that I see it, furthering a journey with software that isn’t evolving is a bit like never upgrading your smartphone. While the software might be updating, your processor and graphics cards are aging and bringing down your phone’s performance. To that point, firms have historically struggled to get a return on investment with their technology and adoption has been next to impossible.
Take CRM for example. A classic sales rep in a technology company must use CRM as a part of their mandate and, in some cases, their paycheck depends on it, but that hasn’t been the case with fee earners, partners, and professionals.
The reality is that most software providers didn’t build their technology to support a professional services firm and their product features reflect that. There were a few highly adopted products that catered to professional services more specifically, but for adoption to be successful, the solution forced their clients to adopt to a new process dictated by the technology provider. When it comes to the adoption of new technology, I want the solution to map to my process and the culture of my firm, not the other way around. That’s why we love systems like OnePlace who understand how PS firms work and what they need to be successful.
Get More Value Out of Your Technology
As firms continue to evolve, they are marketing smarter, building business development teams, and using technologies to enable efficiencies in their business. There’s a lot of great new technologies out there and there will no doubt be a battle between the old guard and the new. As a sales leader, I believe that my clients have options and the right to question things, so here’s some advice for making sure you’re getting your greatest return on investment.
When your vendors come knocking again, ask these questions:
- What’s new with your product and is it capable of integrating into other systems?
- Why didn’t you come to us sooner?
- What value am I getting out of this tool?
- Will these new features really help our internal audience dislike the system any less?
When new technology vendors walk into your office, put a different spin on the questions I mapped out above. It may look something like this:
- How does your company and technology support us through our technology journey?
- How do you plan to be proactive in your support of our technology adoption?
- What value can I expect out of the box? How can I be creative to get more of it?
- Will your new technology make my internal audience happier and want to adopt it?
Regardless of where you are in your journey, make sure you have a strategy that enables you to start small or simple and evolve as your firm and processes allow. Technology will continue to evolve and you don’t need to bite off every feature on day one. After all, procuring software is easy, but the vendor needs to be there to support you and make it successful. Otherwise, you may as well stay with the status quo and keep getting the same results.
Want to Earn a Higher ROI From Your CRM?
If you’re like most professional services firms, getting the most value out of your technology is easier said than done. When it comes to your CRM, though, we can help. Find out how to increase your CRM’s potential ROI but listening to our “Is Your CRM in the Best Shape It Could Be?” webinar.