Although the legal industry understands the importance of sales and marketing efforts, there appears to be a disconnect between key decision makers and sales and marketing teams. According to the Legal Sales and Service Organization’s annual report, which tracks the emerging field of sales in law firms, 80 percent of legal sales professionals have an impact on revenue through sales; however, only 14 percent of survey respondents reported having a marketing/sales/business development seat on the firm’s management committee. How can a law firm effectively reach prospects and clients when it lacks resources or organizational structure to support sales and marketing efforts? Technology.
Technology has completely transformed the client intake process for law firms. Twenty years ago, the process looked very different than it does now—an individual in need of legal services would likely call a law firm, speak to a secretary or legal assistant, and then be connected with a lawyer or member of the legal team who could provide further assistance. There was no concrete process for determining who received the lead, and there was rarely any insight into how the individual connected with the law firm in the first place.
Law firms can now utilize customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as Salesforce, to assist with the client intake process. The ultimate goal of a CRM platform for the legal industry is simple: to help improve the relationship between law firms and clients. An American Bar Association (ABA) study found that 42 percent of the time, law firms take three or more days to reply to a voicemail or web-generated form from a prospective client. This delayed response time can be harmful when trying to build a relationship.
CRM platforms provide the ability to capture a lead, whether originating through a phone call or interaction with a law firm’s website, and help law firms keep track of where the lead is in the sales cycle. Understanding the status of each lead will help firms recognize trends that can improve the overall customer experience. For example, if the implementation of a CRM system helped a law firm identify that the longest step in the process was between initial contact and a follow-up from a member of the legal team, the firm could take necessary measures to shorten that timeframe.
Call-tracking and analytics systems are another technology platform helping law firms optimize the client intake process. Forty-nine percent of consumers expect a response from an attorney within a 24-hour window, according to FindLaw research; therefore, it is vital that firms use technology to shorten response time to a potential client’s phone call. Many call-tracking tools, such as Invoca, can integrate with CRM systems, allowing the data collected on those calls to be stored in an easily accessed platform.
If a law firm is trying to implement many different platforms, it can become overwhelming for the marketing or sales team to manage all the collected data. By partnering with technology companies that specialize in automating the sales and marketing process, law firms can streamline the lead generation and analysis process. These companies can build customized solutions that integrate the multiple platforms used by the firm.
In addition to customized solutions, technology companies can help law firms understand lead origination and, in turn, attribute the value of marketing efforts. A law firm will likely use a variety of different advertising or marketing efforts at once, so the ability to attribute how a lead came to the firm is extremely valuable in determining further marketing budgets. When firms can allocate the marketing budget in the communication channels that are most effective for clients, the overall relationship improves once again.
When law firms embrace technology, the overall client experience improves. With the help of a few tools—namely, a CRM platform and call-tracking systems—and a trusted partner to integrate various solutions, law firms will begin to understand clients and the intake process on a deeper level.