The Biggest Mistake Accountants Make When Buying CRM
CRM is a relatively new category of software for accountants to adopt, and over the last five years FibreCRM has discovered that the key to success hinges on the firm’s perception of what CRM is.
We know that to enjoy the full and many benefits of CRM, a firm of accountants must put CRM at the heart of the practice; used by everyone, every day. This is when we see what we call the “integrated practice” removing silo`s and ensuring that everyone and everything works together. However, this only happens when the leadership in a firm has identified CRM as key to the overall strategy and perceive CRM technology as being equal to the practice management, accounts production and tax software.
All too often, CRM is seen as a tool to help with sales and marketing and when this happens CRM is left to the marketing team with partners not engaged. The result is that CRM delivers only a fraction of the value it could (and should) deliver.
This can lead to questions over the value of a CRM project, and firms get stuck; not wanting to spend the time to fully embrace CRM but also not wanting to walk away. The way out of this situation is for the leadership team to send a clear message that CRM is NOT just good sales and marketing software – but an effective “relationship management” system that is core to the success of the practice. When this happens, everyone gets onboard and operates within the system, because everyone knows relationships are the foundation of the firm.
The Marketing Mix
If you consider the classic marketing mix of the 4Ps; Product, Price, Place and Promotion you’ll appreciate the “product” of an accountancy practice is a relationship and everyone is involved in that from the Receptionist to the Partner.
Every contact with the client is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship. For example, knowing that a client prefers black tea with no sugar, or following up tasks having promised to send relevant communications about topics that specifically relate to that client as an individual. This could be Xero tips, industry news, tax payment reminders, invitations to events on topics where you know the client has a requirement. CRM empowers you to do this by transforming the culture.
The culture shift is a move away from “jobs” towards “relationships” where everything is more open and collaborative; every communication and task is visible to everyone so there is a more cohesive and measurable approach towards management of clients, prospects and professional contacts.
Can You Measure Relationships?
Accountants are familiar with the saying “what gets measured gets improved” and CRM can help you measure relationships. Not just with an annual Net Promoter Score survey or quarterly pulse, but by seeing how many meetings you’ve had with your top 20% of clients or how quickly enquiries are being responded to. For example, if you want to promote personal touch in your firm, you could measure the ratio of emails to phone calls with clients.
The Value Of CRM
It is an accepted fact that CRM isn’t cheap, takes time and effort to implement and it isn’t easy to measure the value. This is because CRM isn’t tactical software, it works at a strategy and management level. But, how valuable are strategy and management initiatives?
A discussion paper from the FSB called Leading the Way published in March 2016 sited research by Bloom and Van Reenen and shows that a single-point improvement in management practices (rated on a five-point scale) is associated with the same increase in output as a 25 per cent increase in the labour force.
Better leadership and management is not just about CRM, but it can be a key element. Think about what a 10%, 15% or 25% boost in productivity mean for your firm and ask yourself the following questions:
- How would that help you achieve your recovery rates?
- Would that take pressure off recruitment?
- Would it enable you to win better clients and exit unprofitable relationships?
- Would it enhance the practice value?
- Would you and your team get more enjoyment out of work?
There is no doubt CRM can truly have a transformational impact on results. Not just by boosting sales and marketing or saving time by being efficient, but by being more effective at what really matters; relationship management.
So, our purpose at FibreCRM is not to sell CRM to just help sales and marketing efforts. We sell CRM to help make accountants lives easier by helping to build stronger relationships; with clients, colleagues and with strategic partners.
The result of successfully implementing CRM is a healthier culture, which gives the firm a true unfair competitive advantage that the competition can’t even see, let alone buy or copy.
If you would like to know more about how CRM can help drive better results, request a discovery call and we’d be happy to take time to understand your practice and its goals, share our knowledge and experience and maybe arrange a demonstration to show how other successful practices have adopted CRM.