Archive for the ‘Activities’ Tag

Measuring & Reporting Business Development Activities

I read a very nice article on JD Supra about Business Development coaching, The Four Essential Rules of Business Development Coaching by Kevin Mcmurdo of the Wicker Park Group. Kevin presents four principles that he believes improves the chances for success in business development coaching.

The second bullet of fourth rule, Manage and track performance, is pertinent to marketing technologists providing tools for attorneys to nurture their relationships. It states with regrads to developing performance measures:

“An activity measure. Track the increase in both number and quality of business development activities. Agree on the relative value of different activities.”

Let’s take a look at how your CRM can play an important role in this process by providing the tools to record and measure activities.

Journalizing Activities

Most CRM systems allow users to journalize the business development activities, such as meetings, pitches, emails, and phone calls. This is very useful, especially for “B” and “C” ranked contacts that are not contacted as frequently as their top “A” contacts  (see Collecting Contacts Continued: Ranking).

Journalized activities provide attorneys a quick reference of their most recent touchpoint with the contacts so they can have instant context available for the next touchpoint. It also can provide useful reports at the end of the year to summarize their annual business development efforts for reporting to firm management.

The key to collecting useful activity data is to make it habitual for the attorneys, to make adding the data part of their normal routine. Ideally you would want this task to added to the coaches training curriculum so that when they are discussing tracking their business development efforts, they have the CRM open and the attorney can enter an activity immediately. This reinforces the coaching concept and transfers the hypothetical into an actionable task. The coach can then segue into showing activity reports so the attorney can see first-hand how the activity data he or she just entered can be used to track and measure their business development efforts.

Beyond Out-Of-The-Box

Most CRMs provide out-of-the-box tools and reports where you can list or print activities for contacts or groups of contacts. For example, the attorney could print out all activities for their key contacts in the past three months. But Kevin’s point goes a step beyond those baseline reports and taking activity data to the next level by aggregating and tracking changes over time. Doing this provides tools to measure progress against their self-selected goals.

From a CRM point of view that means you have to transform discrete transactional data, the activities, into useful summarized data.  There are several ways to reposition the data to be useful for attorneys. One would be to summarize performance over a given period of time, such as a week. A new table would be added to the CRM system to record the weekly counts for each activity types. This provides a simple report that would list the counts for the most recent week, along with a line graph of historical trends, “Is the line going up or is it trending down?”  This would be an easy way for the attorney to see if they are on track to meet their target goals set during their couching sessions.

Attorney Activity Report

Graphs are useful to convey data quickly with greater understanding.  You can create custom reports with graphs for your CRM using Microsoft Report Builder and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).  See Add a Chart to a Report (Report Builder and SSRS) for more information

Other reports, such as counting activities by contact or by company can be created so the attorney can monitor their efforts for key contacts or targeted companies. It’s an extension of the out-of-the-box reports mentioned above, only it’s totaling counts instead of listing individual activities. The actual steps to implement may vary between specific report requirements and system database design. So, this will require some effort to construct with the assistance of your DBA and programmers.

But What About Quality

Counting is only half of the equation. The other half is quality. Counting is rather easy compared to measuring quality because quality is a subjective judgement that you have to devise a way to track and measure in your system. A simple approach would be to start with type of activity. For example, a face-to-face meeting could be inferred as a higher quality activity than a phone call, which is then higher than an email. So, an attorney may set goals for “X” number of meetings and “Y” number of phone calls and “Z” number of emails. The coach would work with the attorney to set personal targets for each type. You can combine this approach within the counting reports discussed above to provide this measurement.

Unfortunately, most CRMs don’t provide a way to distinguish activities in a given category. So how do you attribute a qualitative value to similar activities? For example, you could have two “phone call” activities, one to a referral contact to stay in touch and nurture the relationship, and another could with a prospect contact to discuss details that could lead to opening a new engagement. Both are important but obviously, the relationship building call is of lesser quality than the call that results in a new matter.

One option would be to expand the activity categories to differentiate. In the example above there could be two phone call activities; “Phone Call Referral Contact” and Phone Call Top Prospect.” The problem with this approach is that the list of possible activities to select in the CRM becomes longer and more of a potential obstacle to use.  A short list of five choices is far easier for attorneys to use than a list of a dozen or two. Frankly, I don’t have a good solution for this part of the puzzle and would welcome hearing your ideas in the comments section below.

Where To Begin

  1. Start with your coaches, most likely members of your business development team, to define what information and reports would be most useful for the business development skills they will be teaching. Include your IT liaison, whether it’s a project manager or your DBA. One, it gets them involved from the beginning, which allows them to advise
  2. Take the coaches’ input and your knowledge of the data in your CRM and mock up a few examples for feedback. I have found that it’s always more effective and you get more usable feedback if you place something visual in front of people. Again, this is a task where your IT team can help.
  3. Finally, work with your IT department to scope out the development effort and implement the reports in conjunction with attorney coaching.

Not Just Another Feature

Remember that this exercise is not just another set of reports. You are collecting and presenting information for the attorneys in conjunction with the one-on-one coaching the firm is providing. This approach emphasizes the distinction between a one-hour class teaching CRM functions, and one-on-one assistance in developing life-long habitual skills. Integrating actual CRM tools within the coaching curriculum is far more effective because you are providing a reason for the attorney to use CRM and weave it into their daily processes and business tasks.

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