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Closing new business

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In my previous blog I explored the many ways CRM systems can help you identify and nurture the best targets for your business. But their usefulness doesn’t stop there. CRM systems have an equally important role to play in successfully obtaining new instructions.

If you’ve been nurturing relationships with target companies, sooner or later a new business opportunity will appear. Of course, the tendency is to immediately try and close it. But, it pays to be more circumspect.

Before you go chasing a deal, it helps to know whether you have a good chance of winning it – and your CRM system can tell you, by showing you how well you did in previous pitches for the particular type of work involved and your success rate against competing firms.

It also helps to know what it will take to make the business profitable. The analytics in your CRM system can provide the answer – by helping you decide who would be working on the instruction, for example.

Once you have decided to go after a new instruction the hard work begins. The opportunity now becomes part of your pipeline and needs to be carefully managed through to a successful conclusion. Your CRM system can help you answer some important questions here:

Who should be on the bid team? The make up of your team is crucial. You need to have staff with the right levels of expertise and negotiating skills. And don’t forget intermediaries or other external contacts that could influence the result. You CRM system can help you identify who should be involved.

Have we bid for work like this before? The best CRM systems can provide you with vital intelligence about why you won or lost similar bids and how you can improve your chances of success.

What needs to be done next? As bids move down the sales pipeline, your CRM system can help you keep track of all the information that is being generated and the team activities that are taking place. With access to the system via mobile devices anytime, anywhere, bid teams are always up to date with the latest status, can collaborate more effectively and make better-informed decisions.

In addition, the CRM systems will give you easy to run and use reports that provide complete visibility of all business opportunities, their value and status. These are invaluable for senior partners and managers. Using them, they can assess the quality of the sales pipeline. For example, are there lots of deals nearing completion but few in the early stages, requiring marketing effort to be ramped up? Or is the firm generating so many marketing leads that it is difficult to address them all properly? Senior partners and managers can also get an accurate picture of the progress being made against business development targets.

And an important aspect that’s often forgotten is using sales pipeline reports to evaluate and plan resources. Winning new instructions is all very well, but you need to have both the right expertise and enough lawyers and associates to deliver the work required.

By providing the capabilities described above, CRM systems provide you with the intelligence to stay one step ahead of your competition and increase your chances of winning new business.

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:

Fiona Jackson has spent over 15 years implementing and working with InterAction in professional services firms, including legal and accountancy. In these in-house roles, supported by InterAction, she managed marketing communications, devised and implemented business development strategies as well as trained and mentored fee earners. She worked closely with internal clients to understand their business processes end-to end and guided them in utilising the 'intelligence' gathered via InterAction to help them be successful at customer relationship management.

Fiona was previously a Client Advisor for five years at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions; and was often described as "an extension to our business" by her clients. She has now returned to the company to drive an InterAction ‘repositioning’ project for a large London law firm. Fiona is also working with other firms to help them align CRM to wider business development strategies. She specialises in strategic and tactical CRM best practice, and as an expert in devising user adoption strategies, her experience in rolling out and repositioning InterAction as a business tool is proving invaluable to clients.

Fiona is mother to two teenagers, who keep her firmly on her toes. Living in Hertfordshire, she loves walking, is often found obsessing over the latest box set and enjoys all that country pubs have to offer. She also has a spectacular Gin collection of her own. Recently, Fiona has discovered a love for cooking – the varying degrees of success hasn’t stopped her from continuing to giving it a go!

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