Having to go digital with your professional services firm has likely been a major change in how you do business. No more face time with your clients, finding new ways to collaborate, and upending your routine adds an extra layer of stress during an already challenging time.
No one had plans for abrupt transitions but, there is a silver lining. This is a great opportunity to take your professional services firm into the remote world. Transitioning to a remote culture can create opportunities to improve your team’s efficiency while still maintaining strong relationships with clients.
Some of the common challenges faced by professional services firms are gaining oversight over clients and communication, collaborating as a team, staying in touch with clients, and knowing what needs to happen next on an account to further the relationship. Additionally, there are many processes that many firms handle manually that could be streamlined through automation.
To help your professional services firm operate more efficiently in a remote world, we’ve outlined a few key solutions.
For professional services firms, providing an amazing client experience is critical to building long-lasting relationships with your clients for repeat business and referrals. But, keeping track of all the communication, details, and next steps with clients can be a challenge, especially when everyone is working from home. This is where a CRM like Daylite, for example, can help.
CRMs allow you to log client interactions such as emails, calls, and notes that can be shared with others in the firm. This gives your team more oversight over clients without having to cc emails or schedule unnecessary meetings. But it’s important to keep in mind when choosing a CRM, to select one that will power your team to log interactions in a quick and easy way to avoid wasted time with unnecessary data entry.
Business Insider shared insights from the Trends in Professional Services Report by Salesforce that revealed the majority of respondents wasted time on manual activities such as logging emails and phone calls (60%) as well as logging sales data and clients notes (58%).
A few extra clicks to log a call or email may not seem like a lot, but they add up fast when multiplied over all your team members and every client. This is one of the reasons Daylite customers love the Apple Mail Integration feature – because emails can be logged to the client record in literally one click.
#2 Marketing automation
Relationships are the lifeblood of professional services firms. But without the ability to drop in and visit clients, other methods of communication such as email and SMS become even more important for staying in touch. Marketing automation can help improve efficiency while still providing a personal touch to your reach outs. Instead of manually typing out emails or sending SMS messages, marketing automation tools allow you to streamline this process through templates, bulk email or SMS campaigns, and automated follow-ups.
Many of these features are either built into CRMs or can be integrated in through other tools. For example, Daylite includes built-in email templates and the ability to send bulk emails that can be personalized using merge keys. This can also be used for printing brochures or mailing print letters. For email and SMS automation, you can integrate Daylite with MailChimp through iOSXpert’s Marketing&Chat add-on, or the Fone&Text add-on for SMS messages.
#3 Sales Automation
For professional services firms, closing a deal can take weeks or months. There are many steps throughout the process and lots of information that needs to be captured. This is where sales automation software can help by streamlining the process and keeping all the information and next steps organized in one place.
The same Business Insider article revealed that most respondents said they spent too much time on manual sales activities such as generating quotes and proposals (57%). Additionally, 45% said that prioritizing leads was a manual process and 48% said determining the next best action to take on accounts as also a manual process.
By leveraging sales automation software, your firm can cut down on time generating quotes, prioritizing leads, and deciding what next action to take on accounts in order to push a deal forward. Some CRMs include sales automation features. For example, in Daylite you can create estimates and prioritize deals by size. And by using the Opportunity Pipeline feature, you can automate next steps to close a deal. If your sales process involved getting a contract or proposal signed, you can use an e-signature app like SignEasy, for example, to streamline the process.
Another manual process is capturing new leads and entering them into your CRM or sales automation tool. This can be automated by using an online form on your website to capture information about new leads and automate pulling that into your CRM. If you’re using Daylite you can automate this through iOSXpert’s WuFoo add-on or by connecting your online web form tool to Daylite through Zapier.
#4 Scheduling automation
Face to face meetings with clients have always been vital to maintaining engagement and building relationships with your client. But, as it’s more difficult to do face to face meetings, using virtual meeting tools like Zoom become more critical and switching to online scheduling can help make the process of booking meetings much simpler. The challenge that comes with virtual meetings is the wasted time back and forth emailing to set up a time. For some firms, this is even more costly by hiring an assistant to handle scheduling meetings.
To streamline this process for your professional services firm, you can use online scheduling software like Harmonizely or Acuity Scheduling. Clients can choose the meeting times and dates for your available slot which is very convenient and much more efficient all round. It also means that you actually gain a considerable amount of time to focus on other important work when you take out the travel time. Not to mention the money you save in travel costs.
Another benefit of online calendar booking tools is that they make it easy for you to share your availability live within your CRM’s calendar . Your contacts can simply book, reschedule, or cancel any appointments all on their own! With integration into your CRM, all of your appointments will appear in your calendar automatically, making a hectic schedule efficient and hassle-free! No more double booking because the meeting has blocked off the time in your calendar.
Also, using scheduling tools you can automatically create Zoom or Teams meetings. These systems automatically send reminder emails to the attendee(s) prior to the meeting which significantly reduces the no-show rate and there’s nothing worse than waiting on Zoom for someone who has forgotten the meeting!
#5 Team collaboration
Teams can work together effectively even when they aren’t in the same place. But without the right tools, communication collaboration and communication, work can be ineffective, details get missed, or done incorrectly. It might seem like nothing can beat the simplicity of speaking to someone who’s sitting right next to you, but you can actually make it simpler!
Modern messaging apps do more than just send messages. Tools like Slack help you organize conversations in channels, keeping communication focused and accessible across departments. Need to collaborate on documents or share standard operating procedures? Confluence is a great tool for this that we’ve been using for years. Documents are sharable, with commenting, with version histories make collaborating easy, productive, and fun.
For collaborating on clients or projects, this is another opportunity to leverage your CRM. By having client information, project details, and tasks all in Daylite, for example, your team can delegate tasks and collaborate on clients and projects without the need for email chains or meetings. Investing in these tools helps your team work together even when they’re in different locations or timezones.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our Daylite clients packed up their office computers and set them up at home. Our support team prepared for a lot of calls, but they did not happen. We soon realized that the answer was obvious; our clients had such a well configured CRM in Daylite, coupled with a reliable cloud file storage (SharePoint or DropBox) system, that the move to home-working did not present a problem.” says Bill Verkaik, Owner of Implicit
“Our clients were able to hit the ground running, retaining an oversight of the latest developments with their clients, communicating efficiently with their team, and maintaining a strong sense of next actions to take.”
Equipping your team with the appropriate tools can drastically improve efficiency in your professional services firm. Implementing the types of tools listed above can help your team gain more visibility over clients, streamline communication, and save lots of time on unnecessary admin work. The result? More time closing deals and building relationships with clients which will help your firm grow.
About the author:
Kristie Holden is an online marketing consultant. She helps startups get more leads by clarifying their message and creating a marketing strategy to attract and convert their ideal client. Connect with her on Instagram.