I keep hearing that firms are beginning to warm up to CRM systems. What’s all the fuss about? Why are accounting firms considering employing CRM systems? Why are they hiring marketing interns or directors and creating new client service policies?
After our economy experienced the recent downturn, firms are beginning to think about recovery, even building again. Firms who recently saw a loss of clients are now looking to shore up and consider building again, not only building bigger firms, but building more successful ones. Considering CRM is something I believe is necessary for growing and sustaining better firms.
There are two major characteristics to CRM software. While each characteristic is unique and provides completely different things, I believe they must be used in tandem to be completely successful. One component helps firms build and the other helps firms sustain. Both characteristics are useful alone, but inseparable in the most successful firms.
CRM, is most commonly known as Customer Relationship Management which I believe is far more important in sustaining firm success than growing a firm. The key word is “Customer.” The most common use here is maintaining good relationships, even marketing those who are already our customers. Ultimately, this use is how we treat and interact with existing customers.
One of CRMs lesser known features, is the ability to market and manage marketing success. This is most commonly done with “prospects," those whom we want to begin doing business with. This is essential for the growth of any firm.
I never thought I would be writing about marketing to accounting firms. Over the years I have seen most firms simply do good work and get referrals from existing customers as a way of gaining new customers and sustaining growth. This method, while still necessary, is not enough to grow and sustain a successful firm in today’s market. With the advent of H&R Block, Intuit and other firms stepping up their marketing approach, all firms are rethinking their marketing policies. If we don’t market to prospects in our area, others will. If we don’t increase our communication to our existing customers, someone else will.
A firm’s long term success is tied to growing. Without growth, firms will eventually become “old” and less relevant and simply fade. I see this in the area of technology, management methods as well as team dynamics. None of us can imagine our firms fading, so one potential option is to review CRM software. I think implementing CRM software is the foundation for finding, engaging and retaining new customers. Ultimately, growing and sustaining a firm.
When reviewing CRM software as a marketing tool, it must provide the following features:
- Name & Addresses
- Company Information
- Unlimited Classifications
- Multiple Sorts
- Telephone Book
- Built-in-Word Processor
- Automated Mailing\Email Campaigns
- Tickler System
- Track Notes
- Personal Calendars
- Hot list of To-do’s
When reviewing CRM software as a sustaining tool for continued firm growth, in addition to those items listed above, they must include the following features:
- Status System
- Call History
When looking for these features in a CRM system, be sure that these abilities exist in your Practice Management software. It is far better to eliminate the number of databases in your firm and not add another database to manage. With this minimum list of features, you are set to continue to grow and sustain a better firm by using CRM systems.
Mike Giardina is the CEO of Office Tools Pro.