Your Client Relationship Management (CRM) system in an integral part of your firm’s business advisory success.
Wikipedia defines a CRM as an approach to managing a company’s interaction with current and potential future clients that tries to analyse data about clients’ history with a company and to improve business relationships with clients, specifically focusing on client retention and ultimately driving sales growth.
An effective CRM should not just be a database of clients and their contact information – it should form the centre of your firm. The emphasis should not be on how your client information is stored, but on the strategy behind how the information is used and how it can be integrated across all areas of your accounting firm.
While a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system can be an extremely valuable tool for any organisation, the reality is that most firms do not have one and those that do often find their CRM solution to be ineffective.
For those practitioners who perceive they don’t currently or won’t get value from their CRM, reasons may include:
- Lack of engagement/use by staff
- Limited use to a few staff
- Training cost and time
- The CRM system does not integrate with other key systems
- It takes significant time and resources to customise the system to what is required
Accounting firms now manage significantly more client information and are expected to be highly efficient in their use of it. Unfortunately, many firms have tended to focus on inputting a lot of data into their CRM and business systems rather than focusing on how that data will be used. This has resulted in the creation of a data entry strategy rather than outcomes and results strategy. In addition, without integration with other areas of business, the CRM simply becomes a silo of information.
If actively used, a CRM delivers a lot more value than the cost, both efficiencies (cost savings) and effectiveness (revenue growth).
If you focus on a platform strategy for information management and business advisory service management, the benefits of a CRM that is also integrated with your eMarketing strategies and other core business systems are significant:
- Identify and manage prospects/pipeline from lead to ongoing relationship management
- Track, manage and build relationships
- Transparency for management and users in terms of opportunities, growth areas, resource requirements and so on
- Project, activity and workflow management
- Eliminate replication of data management (information shared across the platform)
- Consistent user interface and reduced administration, training and operational overhead
- Organisations with strong information management and systems are much more valuable
When I speak to firms, I often hear that I already have a CRM being my practice management software system. I challenge this assumption. A typical practice management system handles the commoditised nature of compliance well, however, in my opinion, falls short in most cases for managing business advisory services.
With advisory, every engagement is different. You can have three clients in the same industry with vastly different proposals, services, solutions and demands. One might need board of advice meetings quarterly, one a succession plan and the other a budget and cash flow and support with receivables management.
How do you manage this efficiently? How do you stop key strategies from “slipping through the cracks”. It is not a compliance report where three clients in the same industry get the same report admittedly with different names, dates and numbers but the same service. We need customised managed solutions and not commoditised solutions.
Come along to our Business Advisory Conference on 15 – 16 February 2018, at the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach and consider how a properly managed CRM system can benefit your firm. Click here for further details and to register.
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