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A Professional Services Firm’s Guide to Making Conferences Meaningful

Posted by Evan Creech-Pritchett on May 09, 2024

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Conferences are more than just gatherings of like-minded professionals; they are opportunities for growth, networking, and strategic advancement. However, navigating them can be a bit daunting without a clear strategy in place. Let’s talk about some key concepts that will help your professional services firm on the way to mastering the art of impactful conference strategies.

Reframe Your Thinking About Conference Selection

Choosing the right conferences to attend is extremely important for maximizing your professional services firm’s time and resources. It is important to focus on more than just the prestige or popularity of an event; consider factors such as the relevance of topics covered, the caliber of speakers and attendees, and the potential for creating meaningful connections.

Moreover, you should consider the location and timing of the conference. Make sure that it fits well with your schedule and provides convenient access to travel arrangements. By reframing your thinking to prioritize quality over quantity, you can ensure that each conference you attend offers genuine value and opportunities for growth.

Discover How to Be Methodical and Objective in Your Approach

Approaching conference selection with a methodical and objective mindset can help streamline your professional services firm’s decision-making process. Start by clearly defining your goals and objectives for attending conferences. For example, are you expanding your professional network, gaining industry insights, or showcasing your expertise?

Next, conduct thorough research on upcoming conferences, evaluating factors such as agenda, speaker lineup, past attendee reviews, and cost-effectiveness. You should consider creating a checklist or rating system to objectively assess each conference's suitability based on your criteria. This allows for a more organized and informed selection process. By taking a systematic approach, you can identify the conferences that align best with your objectives and priorities.

Learn How to Be Mindful of Any Emotional Biases Influencing Your Decisions

It's essential to be mindful of any emotional biases that may influence your professional services firm’s conference selection process. Whether it's the fear of missing out on a popular event or because you’ve always attended, emotions can cloud judgment. Practice self-awareness and introspection to identify any biases at play like confirmation bias or sunk cost fallacy.

Furthermore, you should seek feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors. This helps to gain different perspectives and mitigate the impact of personal biases on your decision-making process. By approaching conference selection with a clear and rational mindset, you can make more informed choices that align with your firm’s professional goals.

Tips to Optimize Your Conference Strategy

Once your professional services firm has selected the conferences to attend, it's time to optimize your overall strategy to maximize your experience and outcomes. Start by creating a detailed itinerary, including sessions, networking opportunities, and any additional events or meetings. Leverage social media platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with fellow attendees and speakers before the conference. This will help facilitate meaningful interactions and collaborations.

Also, consider attending workshops or interactive sessions that offer hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to develop your skills. These activities will enhance the value you derive from the conference. During the conference, prioritize quality over quantity when networking, focusing on building genuine connections rather than collecting business cards.

Don’t Forget Your Follow Up Strategy

Finally, don't forget the importance of post-conference follow-up. One effective strategy is to have dedicated individuals responsible for follow-up tasks, so that no potential leads slip through the cracks. Whether it's sending personalized emails, brochures, or scheduling follow-up meetings, prompt and tailored communication can leave a lasting impression on your contacts.

You should also consider leveraging tools or systems to streamline the follow-up process. Scanning business cards or badges at conferences allows for the inputting of contact information directly into your database, and it is a very efficient way to track connections. By prioritizing follow-up efforts and utilizing available resources, you can maximize the return on investment from attending conferences.

Make Your Professional Services Firm’s Conferences Meaningful

Mastering impactful conference strategies requires a combination of strategic thinking, mindfulness, and proactive planning. Reframe your professional services firm’s approach to conference selection, adopt a methodical mindset, and be mindful of emotional biases; you can then optimize your overall strategy and make the most of your conference experiences.

Remember to prioritize quality over quantity and focus on building genuine connections. Furthermore, always follow up with your connections post-event. With these strategies in place, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the conference landscape with confidence and purpose.

Need a deeper dive into making your conferences count? We’ve got a LinkedIn Live with a conference guru that brings all these points and more together. Click below to watch today!

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What to Look for in a CRM Consultant

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on February 09, 2023

 

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The other day I had a prospect call looking for a CRM (Client Relationship Management) software, but what he found was a CRM Consultant vs. a “salesperson.” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely want to sell software…to the right fitting firm. As with most calls, this caller wanted to set up a time for a demonstration.  

However, without understanding the prospect's challenges, and ultimately how the software will help the client’s marketing strategy, a demonstration is futile. A CRM system isn’t a magic bullet. So, when you are looking for new CRM software, it’s important to also evaluate who will assist you beyond the sale. Below is what to look for in a CRM Consultant: 

A Results-Oriented CRM Consultant Identifies Firm Needs

When speaking to a client or potential client, a CRM Consultant asks probing questions to evaluate the firm’s current processes, its challenges, and ultimately what the client is looking to accomplish. As a CRM Consultant, it’s important to understand the firm’s level of sophistication related to marketing processes and measurement. Just like a growing baby, each firm is at a different growth stage.  

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A baby must learn to roll over, crawl, stand, walk, and then run, and so must a firm. You can’t expect to immediately start running. Some firms’ processes are advanced despite the fact that they have no CRM system. Others have no processes at all. A firm must start somewhere. So as a consultant, it’s important to understand the firm’s marketing maturity before establishing a CRM implementation for that firm.  

During the above-mentioned call, the prospect was a little taken aback when I told him that our system wasn’t the right fit for his needs. Ultimately, he was looking for another type of software. Although it ended up not being a lead, the prospect was thankful for my honesty as I took the time to understand what his firm needed and helped guide him down a better search path. 

A Vigilant CRM Consultant Engages Key Players Throughout Implementation

After establishing needs, it’s important to make sure you have the right players. As outlined in this previous blog article, 8 Reasons for a Successful Implementation, it’s important to ensure executive buy-in during the sales process. Just as important is having the right CRM champion, and with an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, it’s important to get finance involved.  

All these key players must be a part of not only the implementation but also the sales process. When involvement from any of these roles is lacking, the likelihood of success is lessened. It is the role of the CRM Consultant to make sure that these key players are established from the beginning and do their part through the implementation. These key people play a huge part in the rollout of the system and must also engage other end users to ensure all departments, divisions, markets, and offices are represented. 

It is the Duty of a CRM Consultant to Look to the Future

When going through an implementation, a misconception that many firms have is that once the implementation is complete, so is the development of your CRM. Well, what worked today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. As your marketing strategy and the competitive landscape change, your CRM system must continue to evolve.  

Your CRM Consultant should look to resolve short-term and long-term needs, as well as think about strategic marketing plans. For example, do you plan to open a new office, go into a new market, or start a new service line? A CRM Consultant is there to guide your firm on metrics that would be valuable to access your marketing traction. 

Your CRM Consultant Should Be a Strategic Partner

A CRM Consultant should be more than a trainer or a vendor. Treating one as such is a common mistake made by firms seeking to hire a CRM Consultant. So how do you know if you have a consultant or a vendor?  

If we look at the basic definition of a vendor, “a person or company offering something for sale,” we can see there is no value added beyond the sale. Whereas a consultant is “a person who provides expert advice professionally.” A value-added CRM Consultant should have a background in marketing and be able to help your firm adapt the system to your marketing strategy.  

A consultant will: 

  • Ask strategic questions to better understand your business needs. 
  • Provide best practices and facilitate your company in adapting the system to gain insight into metrics that matter. 
  • Go beyond showing you how to just use the system.
  • Help you learn how to increase user adoption.
  • Look at ways to improve your business and your clients.
  • Understand your industry. 

Bonus: The consultant uses the system in his or her own business. 

Ultimately, your CRM Consultant should be a partner that understands your business needs and be someone you can rely on to help you as new needs arise. If your firm is looking to improve its CRM processes or looking for a CRM system, be sure to check out Full Sail Partners’ CRM resources page. These resources include mini demonstrations, webinars, whitepapers, and more.

 

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Full Sail Partners is Celebrating its Silver Anniversary

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on May 11, 2022

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For the last decade, Full Sail Partners has been a recognized project-based technology leader in the Deltek professional services ecosystem. We have much to celebrate and we attribute that success to our company culture -- fun, fast-paced, flexible and collaborative. Our team members comment every day how they feel privileged to call many of their co-workers true friends and even family.  

Since our inception, the number of employees has expanded 131%, and over our 10-year history, revenue has increased 145% while completing over 4000+ projects. The firm launched its Blackbox Connector product in 2015 increasing the team’s integration capabilities by being able to connect clients to outside solutions. Deltek and other industry leaders have recognized our firm with 15 awards over its history because of our relentless commitment to cultivating strong customer loyalty and focusing on the customer experience. We accomplished this and more all while being 100% remote, before it became popular.  

We plan to recognize this huge milestone with our clients at Deltek’s Annual Conference, ProjectCon, in November in Nashville, TN. Additionally, as part of our continuing 10-year anniversary celebration, Full Sail Partners will be selling a cookbook filled with recipes from its employees. Each employee that submits a recipe will be nominating a charity of his/her choice. Any funds raised will be then given to the charity that is voted upon by Full Sail Partners’ clients.  

While viewing our accomplishments, you can truly experience the fun side of our culture. We would love to hear from you, our clients, about any experience that stands out over the years in the comments or on social media. Thank you to everyone that has been a part of our journey. We are excited to continue this celebration and enjoy the moment while looking forward to our next milestone accomplishment. Cheers! 

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Review our recent press release to learn more about our firm and our accomplishments over the past decade. 

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How to Use Client Feedback to Improve Client Experience

Posted by Ryan Felkel on May 19, 2021

In a recent study by Dimension Data, 84% of companies that strive to improve their client experience (CX) report increases in their revenue. Another survey completed by Gartner found that 81% of businesses compete primarily on CX. Even more, PWC found that 32% of customers are willing to walk away from a brand they favor because of one negative experience. While there are endless amounts of statistics that directly correlate CX to company revenue and growth, many companies are still falling short in terms of their clients’ standards.

Client taking survey

 

Typically, the common denominator for businesses that are providing subpar CX is the lack of asking for feedback from clients. Certainly, your firm’s team members are meeting with clients and sharing ideas about their projects and expectations, but these conversations are merely that…just talk. However, creating a formalized client feedback process can revolutionize the CX and take your firm’s brand to the next level.

Understanding What to Measure

For professional services (PS) firms, measuring a client’s satisfaction with the final product ignores the process of delivering a project from start to finish. Therefore, the quality of the process is what determines CX for project-based firms. In other words, PS firms need to be more focused on asking for feedback about the project delivery process. When determining what questions to ask about the process, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two categories that need to be evaluated about the process, subjective- relationship metrics and objective-deliverable metrics.

In terms of subjective or relationship questions, firms need to understand how helpful they were during the process. Additionally, they need to ask for feedback regarding how the client felt about their responsiveness and their abilities to make the right decisions at critical moments during the project.

For objective or deliverable feedback, PS firms need to know how clients feel about their ability to manage budgets and schedules. Overall, objective feedback measures the accuracy of quantifiable standards and expectations that were set prior to the project starting.

Cadence of Asking for Client Feedback

Waiting until a project is completed to ask for feedback is too late. At this point, fixing any negative perspectives is a moot point as it’s hard to correct something in the past. For PS firms, it is critical to ask for feedback early on and often.

It is often encouraged to begin the feedback process at the project kick-off. During this time, the project teams need to make sure milestones and KPIs are aligned, and all parties are clear on the path to success. Once the first milestone has been met, there is now an opportunity to request client feedback and to begin to assess the process your firm is using to deliver a project. As the project continues and various milestones or percent complete points have been met, feedback can once again be requested. Finally, client feedback needs to be requested upon project completion.

Asking Clients the Right Feedback Questions

Providing a great CX requires asking the right questions to gain feedback about the project delivery process. Additionally, each client feedback inquiry should include six to eight questions that are shorter than 12 words. Questions should also be different for each phase of the project, and they also need to be tailored to the role each stakeholder has in the project. Most importantly, the goal is to create a great CX, therefore questions need to be geared toward measuring expectations and not satisfaction. Since satisfaction cannot be controlled, but expectations can be managed.

Moreover, avoid questions about an individual since they are only part of the process. Also, ask questions about things you can control and change. For instance, asking a client if they think a budget is sufficient is pointless since the budget was predetermined prior to the project. Most importantly, reevaluate questions that use the word “and” as this is usually becoming two questions with the use of a conjunction connecting two clauses or thoughts.

Take Action on Client Feedback

Well, now you’ve asked for feedback which means you likely need to respond and address the client feedback. In many cases, positive feedback only requires a small acknowledgement. When the feedback indicates expectations are not being met, it is imperative to reach out to the survey respondent to understand why they feel the process is falling short of expectations.

It is equally important to note that the person requesting client feedback needs to the person reaching out and acknowledging the responses whether they are positive or negative. Additionally, the person requesting feedback needs to not take the information personally since the questions and responses are about the process. Lastly, when discussing feedback with a client, the person requesting feedback needs to practice empathy as to avoid creating a conversation filled with attacks and defenses.

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Key Findings from the 41st Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report

Posted by Rick Childs on July 15, 2020

Deltek Clarity

Every year, Deltek collaborates with ACEC, ACEC Canada, AIA and SMPS to conduct a study to measure the health of the AE industry. The 41st Deltek AE Clarity Report provides a comprehensive assessment of the 2019 performance of AE firms. Furthermore, the study collected responses from more than 415 firms of all sizes within the AE industry. While many of you will eventually read over the findings, here is a summary of what you will discover in detail.

Clarity on AE Technology Trends

With no surprise, technology is a leading focus for AE firms. It seems like this is a trend every year, and it is now becoming even more important for AE firms to invest in technology to be competitive. Surprisingly, augmented and virtual reality is driving a deeper interest into technology investments for AE firms. Even more, firms that have been challenged by the costs of emerging technologies are finding them more affordable as they become more mainstream. According to responses from the Deltek Clarity survey, firms have accepted that the cost of investing in technology has a significant and beneficial impact on the efficiency of their operations.

Clarity on Financial Statements

2019 proved to be another great year for the AE industry in regard to financial performance. The report explains that over the past 10 years, the financial stability of the AE industry has remained strong and has shown growth. While many of the core metrics measuring financial strength demonstrate small changes from year to year, the changes are continuously positive. A significant finding is that operating profit on net revenue and net fixed assets per employee did rise in 2019. Furthermore, the benchmarks for operating profit on net revenue and net labor both surpassed the high performer thresholds which backs the findings of financial stability in the AE industry.

Clarity on Business Development

This section has some interesting findings. Win rates were down and so was revenue from the firm’s top three clients. However, there may be some factors that can explain these results. Is it because firms are lacking a formal go/no go process to improve new business pursuits, or are firms pursuing business in new markets? Are your firm’s top three clients doing less work? Perhaps it is a combination of all these things. But one thing remains certain, that business development continues to be a challenge for AE firms.

Clarity on Project Management

What, what, what? The 41st Deltek Clarity Report found that AE firms, which are project-based businesses, have recognized they need to improve their project management capabilities. Yes, you read that right. Many AE firms are reporting they need to better define responsibilities and processes, develop better practices, and invest in project management training. How fantastic that AE firms are recognizing that project management and delivery is hindering the overall performance of their firm and acknowledging there is a need for change.

Clarity on Human Capital Management

Human Capital Management is a not a problem unique to the AE industry, and it affects nearly every profession. For AE firms, talent acquisition is the top challenge leaders face each year. Since a firm is only as good as the people it employs, acquiring and retaining top talent is essential to staying competitive. Unfortunately, talent acquisition is going to continue to be a challenge for AE firms since the number of available experts is limited. Also, AE firms continue to fall short due to lack of succession planning. This is something AE firms should evaluate as we approach a generational change and baby boomer retirements.

Learn More with the 41st Deltek Clarity Report

For many, the Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report is a valuable tool used to benchmark the performance of your firm. It’s important to keep in mind that using this report from 2019 to compare to your current fiscal year of 2020 may give you skewed results as the global pandemic’s effects are still unseen and predicting the impact is nearly impossible. Good news though, you can still compare your 2019 results against the report findings, and Deltek plans on releasing the 42nd Annual Clarity Report in 2021, which will most certainly shine light on the impact of the global pandemic.
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An Effective and Successful CRM is a Lifestyle Change

Posted by Amanda Roussel on June 10, 2020

CRM lifestyle

There have likely been times where you desired to get healthier and stronger. You cannot just wake up one day, eat well, exercise, and see the results of your efforts instantaneously. You must have the desire to change, recognize the benefits of doing so, keep your WHY at the top of your mind, and identify long-term goals. Just like in your personal life, lifestyle changes are necessary on the business front to see real success, and client relationship management (CRM) is a large part of making that happen.

Professional services firms offer services, and it is all about the knowledge and expertise of a firm’s professionals and trust in the brand. The art of building relationships and earning trust takes time, thought, and coordination within your team. CRM tools keep track of these communications, and consistency is what builds the data. With this data, you can establish long-term goals that you strive to meet. The positive results from choosing to use an effective CRM make it worth your while to change your work lifestyle.  

Accomplish More

The benefits of a personal healthier lifestyle may be having more energy, feeling more confident, and accomplishing goals that have felt distant. Likewise, for businesses, process and habit improvements offer benefits such as boosting productivity, increasing communication with clients, and crushing sales goals. Implementing a CRM helps you work more effectively as a team while adding productivity time back to your schedule. If CRM data is captured timely and correctly, it takes significantly less time to “research” what the latest communications and outcomes were with clients.

Think of employee-client interactions and the information that is gathered as a firm resource. Business resources are meant to be shared efficiently, and that information should be available when others need it. Furthermore, new information is constantly coming in and a CRM tool provides your teams a platform to document and share this information, keeping everyone informed.

Use the Technology at your Fingertips

As new information comes in from various sources, real-time data is crucial. This is achievable with the mobile capabilities of a strong CRM. Therefore, documenting information after each engagement brings consistency and a positive habit. With a firm-wide CRM, you can stay on top of your communications and proactively reach out to clients.

Additionally, as there are web-based apps to track exercise stats, sleep habits, and food intake, there are also apps that streamline business matters. All data from these apps, such as email, can be incorporated and captured into your firm CRM. While technology can help guide us, we are ultimately responsible for holding ourselves accountable for the improvements. 

Use Accountability to Create Consistency 

Just like having an accountability partner in an exercise or health program, employees should be accountable for keeping their colleagues informed. When we have dated action items as a CRM may show, the transparency should drive employees to stay on top of their tasks. However, there needs to be support and enforcement from all levels of leadership to make sure this happens. Consistency is crucial to success.

Get Over the Hurdle

According to the 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture Engineering Industry Study, only 14% of firms planned to invest in marketing intel and CRM systems. Is your firm part of that 14%? CRMs have advanced greatly, and the capabilities of an effective CRM support and encourage accountability, teamwork, outreach, and relationships. After some time, your firm will not remember business without an efficient tool like a CRM. These positive habits will stick with the firm for years to come, just like a lifestyle change for a healthier you.

Grow Revenue with a CRM

Creating the Intentional Client Experience

Posted by Full Sail Partners on February 05, 2020

Intentional Experience

When it comes to your clients, building strong long-term relationships is priority. The quality of these relationships can make or break your business. Most importantly, clients desire an overall exceptional client experience. Two main factors should be considered when creating the optimal intentional experience for your clients. First, culture is a huge part of how a client feels when interacting with your company. Employees that are motivated and in good spirits provide great client service. Second, having an established process in place for your employees can lead to improved organization and consistency. Let’s take a deeper look at the intentional client experience and see how it benefits your company.

Intentional Client Experience Begins With a Plan

Some of the best client experiences simply begin with a good plan. One that is authentic and meaningful in your communication with your client is important. You can simply magnify the client experience through touchpoints that each add up to an overall exceptional client experience. Many clients these days expect more than the basic customer support. They want to feel significant and satisfied when they deal with your company. The intentional client experience has a clear mission with defined steps leading clients to have a great experience.

Intentional Client Experience Takes Being Client Centric

You want your clients to have a positive experience pre- and post-sale in order to drive repeat business. So not just offering great customer service but nurturing lasting relationships is tantamount to success. By understanding your clients and their needs, you can predict how they are going to react to certain things. This knowledge will help you figure out key touchpoints to keep those clients on track. You can look at client data to understand buying behaviors and to see their areas of interest and engagements. Intimately knowing your clients, you can also track places of opportunities to enhance client service and experience.

Intentional Client Experience Leads to Efficiency

The intentional experience leads to efficiency while prioritizing client experience. It reduces face-to-face interactions without compromising how the client is feeling. Using digital touchpoints, your company can skillfully keep clients happy. You can anticipate client needs and establish protocols. For example, if specific clients want to stay up to date on your company’s activities, then you can make sure they are signed up for notifications. In knowing exactly what your clients want, you save a lot of time.

Intentional Client Experience Ensures Positive Client Feedback

By creating a client tailored service, clients are getting what they want more quickly. Intentionally staying on top of client needs will lower the amount of negative comments and complaints a company may get. If your company receives complaints, taking these and tweaking your intentional pathway can certainly help your firm improve client satisfaction and promote positive feedback.

Maximize Revenue With Intentional Client Experience

The intentional client experience is an efficient, needs oriented and positive scenario for your clients which reduces frustrations among your employees. By eliminating opportunities for failure and reason for complaints, employees are more driven to create that amazing relationship with their clients. Satisfied employees that continue to offer fantastic customer service with an overall exceptional experience helps ensure clients continue to conduct business with your firm thus maximizing revenue. With constant advancements in determining client satisfaction such as the Client Feedback Tool, every company should be able to create the intentional client experience.

Blackbox Connector for CFT and Vision Webinar

What is a CRM System and Why Your Firm Needs one?

Posted by Full Sail Partners on December 18, 2019

CRM Solutions

A CRM system, or Customer Relationship Management system, is a technology tool that allows you to track important details about your customers. Firms need to know which product or service the customer currently has and want the ability to monitor the customer’s buying journey and needs. A CRM system also helps support the firm’s overall goals and strategies within each department. Let’s take a better look at what a CRM system can do for your firm.

Create More Revenue with a CRM

Sales teams use a CRM to conduct research as well as find new leads for future opportunities. A CRM system offers an abundance of information that can increase productivity when it comes to generating new sales. The CRM system can be used to track client communications which enables sales representatives to build stronger relationships with their customers and create new streams of revenue that grow firm profits. Furthermore, a CRM system can provide interactive analytical tools that give the sales force an accurate insight into a customer’s interests and needs. Sales representatives can then have more productive conversations with their leads and continue to develop personal relationships.

Along with building stronger relationships, a CRM solution can help a firm figure out the most effective sales practices and use that information to better their sales team. Staying abreast of proven processes will keep your sales team up to date on the fastest and most effective way to move a lead to a sale. 

Work More Efficiently

Similar to sales, marketing can benefit tremendously from the use of a CRM system. First off, the relationship between the marketing team and sales team is crucial to ensure customer needs are being met. With everyone actively using a CRM system for customer information, sales and marketing results can be seen across the board. Communication between sales and marketing will improve since both teams will have access to the most relevant data.

A CRM system can also be used to track marketing campaign success. The marketing team can evaluate how effective different marketing campaigns were including the costs which can help determine the best use of marketing department funds. With this available data, the marketing team can additionally change certain parts of the campaigns and maybe personalize some better for certain customers.

Improve the Customer Experience

Making sure customers are satisfied with their experience with your firm is very important. The customer service team relies on being able to measure things such as customer retention, satisfaction, and what is and is not working. This data can be tracked using a CRM system. If a customer did not have a good experience, the cause of the problem can be determined, and customer service can figure out what needs to be done in the future to prevent that situation from happening again. This information can then be relayed back to the sales and marketing teams so they can fix the issue on their side.

Why a CRM System is Right for Your Firm!

To be successful in any business, working smarter and most efficiently is very important. A CRM system can provide your firm with the metrics and relevant data to see how well your firm is meeting customer needs. Additionally, a CRM system offers the most accurate and up to date information allowing all department teams to work together seamlessly and effectively. Are you ready to take advantage of a CRM system?

Grow Revenue with a CRM  

Benefits of Having Clean Company Data

Posted by Ryan Felkel on September 26, 2018

 

Clean Company DataYou’ve probably heard the saying, “bad data in – bad data out.” Well, bad data is outdated, incorrect, incomplete or duplicated information, and according to the Harvard Business Review, workers waste 50% of their time dealing with it. Now ask yourself, when was the last time someone at your firm took a deep dive into the data in your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system?  While the process of cleaning company data is time consuming, it is something all firms should do on regular basis. Businesses can achieve numerous benefits by fixing bad data. Here’s a look at some of the top benefits.

Improves Employee Productivity

Spending the day combing through a bunch of bad data is tedious work and a major time waster. Furthermore, the result of this extensive effort might be little to no actionable information. Also, with finding inaccurate information, employees may be led down the wrong path and not towards the goal. However, with clean company data, businesses can be sure employees are making the best use of their work hours and accomplishing goals.

Improves Marketing Efficiency

Building a pipeline of new revenue requires having accurate data about customers you want to target for your marketing efforts. Having the correct email address, mailing address and phone number is critical to ensure the highest rate of return for your marketing efforts. Regularly cleaning customer data ensures information is up-to-date and marketers can realize a higher return on investment and a larger pipeline of new opportunities.

Improves Decision-Making

Effective decision-making is critical to the success of a firm and requires having accurate data. Business intelligence (BI) is a hot topic in all industries right now. For your firm to be able to jump on the BI bandwagon, the data you are using to make decisions must be accurate. Having clean data can support better analytics and improve your firm’s decision-making process.

Prevents Fraud and Billing Mistakes

Having clean company data can also reduce fraud and billing mistakes. In many cases, vendors may send multiple invoices for the same service to encourage firms to pay them faster and more often. They are not trying to be malicious. Accurately tracking invoices to see which ones have been paid will reduce double paying vendors.

Get Your Firm’s Data Clean

The task of going through your firm’s data can be daunting, but the benefits of clean company data are worth it. To begin the cleaning process, you’ll want to define goals and assign ownership to the different steps required to obtain your goals. You can also automate several of these steps using the different software solutions, or you can seek help from a trusted outside company that is familiar with the ERP system your firm uses.

Blackbox Connector for Informer 5 and Deltek Vision 

Enhancing the Client Experience - Tough Questions You May Want to Ask Sooner than Later

Posted by Kevin Hebblethwaite on May 02, 2018

Ask the Tough Questions Your clients need you to be successful. Think about it – would the alternative be a great experience for them? Relationships in the professional services industry are interesting animals that need specific care and feeding to fully develop. It’s not easy, and I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out. However, you can be certain that your client relationships are getting stronger when asking hard questions doesn’t seem so nerve-racking. So, when the relationship IS there, you can ask almost anything. Here are a few questions that come to mind – and please paraphrase if using them in client discussions.

Are you REALLY ready to commit funding for professional help?

Mama always said, “Don’t talk about your money,” and per Kenny Rogers, “You never count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table.” While money is a very sensitive topic, we know from economics class, that business transactions involve the exchange of goods or services for compensation. Without the compensation part, it’s no longer a business transaction. In that context, we must recognize both the sensitivity AND the importance of money in our client relationships. We can treat it carefully, but we certainly can’t shove it under a mattress. Sorry, Mama.

Some potential clients truly aren’t ready to pay for your help. And that’s OK! Regardless of the reason, you can still give those prospects a wonderful experience. Getting to know your firm and helping them understand the value you bring with your paid expertise offers the chance to keep in touch for future initiatives/challenges/projects.

When the timing and value equation IS a match, keeping your client projects and relationships in good financial health is imperative for all parties involved. The client has expectations about your service delivery and outcomes, and your firm has expectations about meeting its cost obligations and returns on the owners’ equity. Getting that value equation right will reward your clients AND your firm.

How can we best serve you in conjunction with your internal resources?

Part of the mystique of developing business in professional services is finding the right match between the client’s ongoing business challenges and “how much” of your expertise to throw at them. We’ve all been in those situations where the outcome felt like we did too little/too much. Most professionals in their area of practice, of course, are pretty good at assessing whether clients have [no/some/significant] internal expertise of their own. Whatever the case, we can’t just assume no expertise, or worse, stop the pursuit because they seem to have more experts than we do.

Figuring out where and how your firm’s knowledge and capabilities fit in is crucial! You’ll find the need to address this balance in all kinds of professional disciplines – the built environment, accounting, legal, information technology, and many more. One example might be when your client must manage the replacement of a key employee whose role is involved in your area of expertise.

Your engagement with this client might be more focused and short-term, but if you are able to strategically line up a handful of clients who consider you “first call” for that situation, the experience can be very rewarding. Some clients choose to not maintain a certain expertise on payroll. The outside professional may desire an expanding scope, but he or she should still proceed cautiously to make sure there is clarity with the client’s reasoning and expectations of our delivery. As you’ve heard many times, seek to understand before needing to be understood.

What outcomes from our work would cause you to laud us among your closest peers?

This question is more common, and maybe even more uncomfortable, but very important. The professional’s best client development tools are the references, referrals, and introductions from other extremely satisfied clients. While it’s helpful to promote the “50 times we’ve done that before on other projects,” it’s preferable to have a solid group of existing clients who will happily describe HOW you did it for them.

Having cheerleaders for your awesomeness are indispensable. Yet, professionals often struggle with the challenging work of developing a process to nurture, catalogue and leverage them. Starting with the important questions will help. Remember, your clients are also motivated to see successful outcomes from your work together.

Ask, Ask Away

You can probably come up with other important questions that you wish had been asked earlier in certain client relationships. Like with most skills, practice makes perfect. Think of several of your best existing clients and seek their input on how to address the tough topics in new relationships. They’ll likely be honored to help, and you’ll be making that relationship even stronger.

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