Selecting and implementing a Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system can be both an exciting opportunity and an overwhelming prospect that can fray the nerves of even the most seasoned marketing professional. At Inovautus, we believe CRM is for everyone and doesn’t have to be a hair-raising experience. We recently had a conversation with Stephanie Gandsey and Roberta Zawacki from DHJJ CPA and Business Advisors out of Naperville, IL to learn how they implemented and found a great rhythm with their CRM system.
DHJJ was already in “change mode” when they made the decision to onboard a CRM system in early 2015. Stephanie arrived with a ton of enthusiasm for the transition but knew from experience that she would need to do her due diligence and set realistic expectations if she was to gain confidence from the whole team. Stephanie first approached the CRM software process with a wishlist:
- Data centralization. Stephanie wanted a system that would store and centralize data so the staff could work as a team. Having pipeline information on hand would also keep the firm’s timelines moving forward.
- Pipeline management. The marketing team needed to capture and track interactions with clients from partner to associate, and support marketing strategies such as segmenting and email communications.
- Contact management. “There was confusion with our contact data – partners were duplicating efforts and we were having a hard time deciphering who was connected to whom,” Stephanie says.
Once Stephanie had her wishlist in place, she began the software selection process. First, she established a committee comprised of partners, marketing staff and IT. “Including your IT person on the committee is very important because CRM will affect the way you work with other software. IT will also help hone your technical questions,” says Stephanie. Next, she and Roberta identified key people to be a part of the implementation team. Before rolling the finished product out to the firm, the team spent 6 months developing their skills, populating data fields, and creating customized reports.
“(Roberta and my) first goal in setting up the software was to gather the right information,” says Stephanie. “We faced a few challenges upfront, like prodding our team to provide the data and then identifying and correcting errors.”
“Information management is an ongoing effort for us,” says Roberta, “but we have dedicated new processes to improve data acquisition on the front end, such as new client forms that help us capture basic information like how they were referred to DHJJ.”
As DHJJ’s Marketing Director, Stephanie did a lot of behind-the-scenes work setting program goals, establishing a roll-out plan, appointing a go-to resource (Roberta) and creating customized reports that would support buy-in from the sales team before presenting it to the firm. “What makes CRM a perfect fit for our team is comprehensive data access. Before, we were trying to capture and piecemeal information,” says Stephanie. “We are now able to prospect and segment, both better and faster.”
Beyond pipeline management, CRM has allowed DHJJ to enhance their business development activities. “The process of saving emails between partners or managers and clients has opened the door for us to leverage communication for the purposes of mentoring within the firm,” says Stephanie. “Next on our goal list is investigating opportunities with marketing automation.” The firm also plans to utilize CRM to improve touchpoints as a key part of its client experience program.
Looking back on the journey, Roberta says creating a wishlist is a ‘must’ for firms that want to add CRM to their overall growth strategy. Here are some other implementation tips from Stephanie and Roberta:
- When making the decision to purchase licenses, choose people who are open to change and are invested in business development. They will be more likely to use and champion the software.
- Appoint a data steward to own the process. CRM cannot thrive with too many cooks in the kitchen.
- Scrub your data before you dump it in.
- Don’t hesitate to incentivize complacent staff members to get on board with your activities.
- CRM touches everything in professional services. Ask to be involved in partner meetings so you can hone the processes.
- Look at adopting a CRM system like a true benefit to your firm – this attitude will frame the entire experience.
Implementing a CRM system is more than just buying another piece of software. Onboarding a CRM system will elevate your sales and marketing efforts, and initiate a true cultural shift within your accounting firm. DHJJ’s example shows that with the right plan, you don’t have to merely survive CRM implementation, you can THRIVE! If you have any questions about how to approach CRM software in your accounting firm, contact our team at email@example.com.