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The Boomer Bulletin - 2013
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So, You Want A CRM System?

Posted By Steven Templeton, Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A managing partner’s primer for a successful CRM implementation

Accountants are not sales professionals, but they are professionals who (must) sell. Accounting firms are getting serious about business development and are beginning to provide their professionals the tools and training to grow their practice.  The key tool to collaborative business development is a well-designed and properly implemented client relationship management (CRM) system.  

If you are a managing partner on the verge of making a decision about a CRM system, here are my top 5 considerations:

  • Choose the right partner. Find an implementation partner who can help you design and implement a CRM solution that fits your firm’s needs. This firm should be experienced in your industry.  At its best, CRM is something that helps business processes and creates efficiencies in those processes. If a partner doesn’t understand your business it can be very expensive or virtually impossible to get them up to speed and then configure the system to your specific needs. 
  • Have the right vision.  CRM should be looked at as a firm-wide solution, not something just for the partner team, or the marketing personnel.  The program needs to become the digital nervous system for your firm where all information is captured and disseminated.
  • Develop a culture of collaboration.  Encourage the benefits of sharing information to team-sell and win more business as a result. CRM will help you develop and enforce the one firm concept and encourage selling and cross-selling.  This takes time and patience, so manage your expectations accordingly, but it is not impossible.
  • Make CRM relevant to practice management.  Often times, CRM systems are implemented, only to  end up being ignored . Make sure that your CRM tightly integrates with the firm’s other applications to present a unified system to the partners and staff. Critical functions such as workflow management and new account origination should and can be handled from within CRM. This will ensure that people are in the CRM system as part of their day-to-day work. 
  • Integrate it with Outlook©.  Virtually everyone keeps Microsoft Outlook© open throughout the work day.  The CRM system you choose must integrate with Outlook so the program is easily accessible and correspondence and appointments can be easily tracked and tied to contacts.  If your staff is required to log on to another system in order to access CRM, the likelihood that they will use the CRM system, or use it with any consistency, significantly diminishes.

If you have growth ambitions for your CPA firm, do your homework and deploy the right CRM to ensure that the firm thrives in the coming decades.  Make it a high priority; you will be glad that you did!    

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