Salesforce and ZoHo: CRMs and Your Law Firm

The lifeblood of any law firm is its client base. As a lawyer, you can devote a tremendous amount of time and energy to the process of generating prospective clients, converting them into paying clients, and then managing your client relationships, without any clear metrics or system in place to manage this. If you are not analyzing your efforts, you can easily waste time and resources, lose prospects and experience low client retention. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to ensure that you are allocating your resources in the most effective way possible, rather than simply acting on instinct.

We use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to assist us in analyzing and managing our interactions with client prospects. What I have found is that CRM tools can be very useful in measuring and tracking our sales funnel, the cost per acquisition of our clients and the churn rate of our clients. The information CRM programs provide help me identify weaknesses in our sales and marketing processes and gives me more concrete measurements on how efficient our firms’ various sales and marketing strategies are in converting potential clients to actual clients.

The stated overall goals of CRM tools are:

  • To find, attract, and win new clients
  • Service and retain those the company already has
  • Entice former clients to return
  • Reduce the costs of marketing and client service

Customer relationship management describes a company-wide business strategy including customer-interface departments as well as other departments. Measuring and valuing customer relationships is critical to implementing this strategy. Some argue such concepts are novel and almost never seen in law firms.

Here are some practical tips I have found from the tools I have used.

I have experience with two CRM tools: Salesforce and Zoho. Both tools perform largely the same functions by helping you track and manage your client prospecting and client retention processes. Salesforce is widely used, while Zoho is less widely known but is equally useful. Many of the features you have to pay to use in Salesforce are included free in Zoho, making it an attractive and affordable alternative. That being said, if your sales team is experienced with Salesforce then you may save time and money by continuing to use that program.

Zoho seems to focus on providing CRM solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses, whereas Salesforce caters to larger enterprises. Zoho offers a free version of their software for users who need a very simple CRM solution, whereas the most popular Salesforce monthly membership is around $125 per month; although, they do have plans beginning at $5 per month for their most basic software.

Both programs allow you to automate CRM processes, track your sales activity, connect with your customers through social media, email, and other avenues of communication, and to access all of these features from your mobile phone. Both programs provide the core functionality that your business should be looking for in a CRM tool – they allow you to track the source of your leads, rate the quality of these leads, manage each lead as it progresses through the sales cycle, and determine the efficiency of each part of your sales process.

Salesforce provides additional functionality, should you chose to pay for it, that allows you to monitor your employee social network, manage approvals and workflow, manage the activities of your firms’ partners, and forecast revenue streams. Salesforce is extremely powerful and can be customized to fit your business’ needs, but for a rather high cost, whereas Zoho is a simpler, ready-to-use product that has a good amount of functionality in its free offering.

While the CRM program your company uses depends on what types of functionality you need, it is certainly a good idea to investigate how these programs can help you get more out of your sales and customer relations processes!

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