Mention CRM and you’ll get an eye-roll from me. Why? Because most firms have had a play at this holy grail and only succeeded in spending money on overhyped – and unlikely ever to deliver – technology-focused solutions rather than grasping the nettle of what CRM actually is and understanding their own position in the “supply chain”.

For example, firms look in the mirror and see a long-term proactive business advisor reflected back at them. But clients look at them and all they see all see is a cog in a transaction. Even large firms are largely fed by panel work or third-party relationships rather than direct client contact or “partner following” these days.

Most firms are still arguing about who their top clients are (based on fees billed), looking backwards at what has already happened rather than analysing the strategic importance of future clients. That’s just wrong. Looking at the history of one-off transactions will get you nowhere, especially in private client or owner managed business markets where most clients have simple needs and largely unpredictable emotional purchase cycles.

In my view a successful CRM strategy is one that focuses on the management of professional relationships – and I mean in a structured way, not just the occasional free lunch. That means having a strategy that adds real value to a client by knowing them better – and earning the right to be that figure in the mirror.

Then and only then should the firm consider which technology will assist them in supporting their strategic plans.


Sadly most CRM programs are purely focused on fee chasing or ‘buying a solution’ rather than true identification and anticipation of customer need. But hey, if it means we can tick the box, job done. Cue another eye-roll and disappointment in IT solutions.