In the grand scheme of things, most functional areas only account for a small sliver of spend but their impact on the firm is growing. Marketing and business development are perfect examples of this.
However, some barriers exist that prevent law firms from typically getting onboard with the marketing and business development process. Chief among these is getting lawyers to buy into customer relationship management systems (CRM).
This is created by a typically protective culture around client contacts and new business opportunities made doubly frustrating as it is the lawyers that typically hold the relationships that marketing and business development teams need to exploit.
This reluctance among lawyers to share their contacts goes hand in hand with traditional difficulty in measuring the impact of marketing and client engagement activity.
Firms may send out a constant stream of mailers and newsletters, but more often than not, firms do not have the tools to track real-time engagement, let alone a proper return on investment.
This lack of ability to track is also underscored by a similar lack of transparency when it comes to knowing how to cross-sell a firm’s services, let alone identifying a cross-selling opportunity in the first place. This all boils down to a lack of focus on lead generation, a perception that law firms are not sales organisations and a reluctance for lawyers to give up billable time to manage a CRM system.
However, the answer to these woes lies squarely within a more nuanced understanding and exploitation of technology. There is clearly a need to move lawyers away from being producers of marketing and business development data, and into being solely the users of it.
This is where technology comes into play as it removes the need for lawyers to participate in the gathering and refining of data.
There are now many systems that collect a multitude of data and that will also uncover and analyse it to help spot opportunities and trends.
In turn, this fills the gap in cross-selling opportunities and allows the marketing and business development team to do their job with greater accuracy and speed. Indeed, this data can also be leveraged into robust experience and credential databases that can be used by lawyers on the fly, greatly saving them time.
There is also an inherent flexibility in many technologies that allow access to a wealth of information from anywhere in the world – what could be termed a “taxi report”, literally allowing a lawyer to call up necessary information without wading through a two-inch thick paper report.
The idea of more accessible reports is also underlined by the fact that many marketing and business development technologies can be paired with leading digital marketing solutions that further streamline marketing engagement and feedback directly into the CRM tool.
This saves even more time and delivers a demonstrable way of measuring return on investment – the holy grail for any marketer and a sure-fire way of helping business development technology gain a foothold with a law firm.
David Langdon is a regional sales executive (ANZ) at Thomson Reuters Elite.