How to Get Your Lawyers to Use Your CRM

Lately, the business development issue I’m seeing most is a lack of adoption of the firm CRM by practitioners and, in some instances, sales team members. “CRM” is the acronym for cloud-based customer relationship management software programs that help professionals manage their contacts. But this powerful sales technology doesn’t only replace the rolodex, it also adds significant functionality to relationship-building efforts.


Rolodex (1) + Research (2) + Lead Qualification (3). Perhaps the simplest function of the CRM is to store contact information about your clients and prospective clients including their phone number, email address, place of employment, and title. Naturally, this information allows you to reach them. But it also serves another function. It allows the technology to pull information about the contact—such as their LinkedIn profile and news articles that mention them—from the internet and store links to that information right on your dashboard. This way, if your contact changes companies or gets a promotion, you are alerted to the change so that you can respond timely even if you have not been on LinkedIn recently or if LinkedIn did not place the connection’s update announcement in your feed.

Directions (4). There are also spaces for the contact’s company information including the website and street address. This data is connected to a GPS feature in a mobile app that provides directions if you intend to visit a contact at their office. The software also alerts you to other potential buyers who are in close vicinity to your contact, in case you want to pop in and perhaps secure an in-person meeting just because you were in the neighborhood.

Note-taking (5). Another basic feature of a CRM is the ability to take and store notes centrally in files assessable to your entire team. With use of this feature, you avoid having different attorneys asking the client for the same information, which the client finds at best annoying and at worst a sign of disfunction or incoordination at your firm. The notes also help you to remember what has transpired with the buyer or prospect so you can pick up where you left off.

Reminders (6) + Meeting Preparation (7). Naturally, the technology reminds you of activities such as upcoming calls, meetings, and due dates. However, you also can cause the software to store email correspondences between you and your contacts so you can quickly review the history before going into a meeting or preparing a proposal.

Appointment Setting (8) + Document Management (9) + Billing (10) + Time Management (11) + Marketing (12). Yet the technology goes far beyond the basics. It allows you to make time slots available online where prospects can schedule meetings with you and have the meetings appear on your Outlook calendar. Further, CRMs can be used for electronic signing of engagement letters, and they come with an audit trail verifying the IP address of the signer of the document. The technology can auto-bill for subscriptions or installment plans and may connect to your merchant account thereby streamlining the billing and payment processes. You can make audio or video calls directly from the dashboard and store recordings of them in the contact’s file. The software can automate emails such as welcome emails when your contact becomes a client or receipts when a client makes a payment. Some CRMs also encompass marketing activities, allowing users to send group emails to a contact list when a blog post such as this one becomes available or when a whitepaper of interest is published by one of the firm’s SMEs.

Sales Forecasting (13) + Business Planning (14) + Analytics (15). From a management standpoint, CRMs provide insights into the length of the purchasing cycle; the types of activities that are driving your wins; the stage or reasons that may be leading to your losses; how long prospects are engaging with your communications and whether they are forwarding them to others; and your average revenue-per-matter and conversion rate, among other data that can help you forecast revenue and attorney utilization.

Customizability (16). There are even more built-in features than I’ve described here. Moreover, the software can be customized, even by a patient non-developer, to do virtually any additional tasks your team finds valuable.

So, with so much functionality, why isn’t there firm-wide adoption of the technology?


There is a range of reasons many of your colleagues may not be using your CRM regularly, if at all. Some reasons for noncompliance are easy to fix while others seem systemic or ingrained and therefore require patience and intentionality to address. The top four issues I’ve pinpointed are:

  • Non-techies sometimes are intimidated by the technology. They avoid it because they don’t know how it works.
  • Many professionals who are not involved in selling may not recognize how the information they glean from representing clients can help the firm make more money.
  • Some colleagues have a system that they’ve been using for a long time and don’t see the benefits to the firm (or to themselves) of changing to a system that is more assessable across the firm.
  • Then, there’s usually a group that doesn’t want to share “their” information with colleagues due to control or compensation issues.


Whether the issue is discomfort with technology, abhorrence of change, obliviousness, or too much independence, I think the way to gain your team’s buy-in is to show them how the technology works and what they stand to gain by using it.

A great time to have this show and tell could be during your annual firm retreat. Have someone from your in-house sales team do a demonstration and a pep talk about why the firm values the CRM. If you don’t have anyone in-house who is well-suited to staff this workshop, you might consider our CRM Demo & Features Training session at Sales for Lawyers. This workshop and inspirational talk will motivate your team to adopt your CRM, which will result in the easy ability of your business development team to spot opportunities to serve clients across all practice areas. It also will lead to more insight into your buyers so you can demonstrate value and drive fees.


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