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:
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
- 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.
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!