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). The CRM’s simplest function is to store contact information about your clients and prospective clients. This includes 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 triggers the technology to pull information about the contact—such as their LinkedIn profile and news articles that mention them—from the internet. It stores 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. That way 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). The CRM also has 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 storing notes centrally in files assessable to your entire team. With this feature, you avoid having different attorneys asking the client for the same information. Clients find this practice annoying at best and a sign of disfunction or incoordination at your firm at worst. The notes also help you to remember what has transpired with the buyer or prospect so you can pick up where you left off.

CRM Dashboard

Reminders (6) + Meeting Preparation (7). Naturally, the technology reminds you of activities such as upcoming calls, meetings, and due dates. You also can sync and store emails between you and your contacts to 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 functionality goes far beyond the basics. The technology allows you to make time slots available online where prospects can schedule meetings with you. The meetings appear on your Outlook calendar.

Further, CRMs can be used for electronic signing of engagement letters. They provide an audit trail verifying the IP address of the signer of the document.

The technology can auto-bill for subscriptions or installment plans. Plus, it may connect to your merchant account, 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 include marketing activities. They allow users to send group emails to a contact list when they post an article (such as this one) or one of the firm’s SMEs publishes a white paper.

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). Even more built-in features exist 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 can be 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 is usually a group of lawyers who don’t wish 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. If your firm doesn’t use a CRM, you may use this link to get an extended trial of PipeDrive CRM.

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 employ 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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