If you’ve braved the cold winter in Chicago to attend ABA TECHSHOW in the past or if you plan to attend this year, you’ll quickly notice that over half the vendors tout themselves as ‘Practice Management Software’. These vendors are the ones who typically spend the most money exhibiting, hold prime booth locations for their 20’ – 30’ booths, and host flashy events for potential customers to mingle at throughout the nights.
As hot as the practice management space is in legal tech, less than 30% of small-to-midsize law firms have practice management software. The vast majority of firms primarily still rely on their billing software to store client information, Outlook to archive emails/calendar/store contact information, and a folder on their firm’s ‘x drive’ to manage all case documents.
I’ve spent the past five years selling practice management software to law firms and here are the steps I’ve seen my clients take to successfully pitch purchasing practice management software to their law firm:
Evaluate the current state of your firm.
First, before you begin shopping for software, you need to clearly understand the pain points your firm is experiencing. Take time to speak with multiple people from different departments, different positions and different tenures at the firm. Try to be open-minded and listen to all the issues your staff is having, even if they don’t directly affect the decision to purchase new software.
Introduce the Managing Partner, management committee or the final decision makers to the idea of solving the problems you uncover.
Once you’ve spent time speaking with different staff members, take time to organize your findings and then schedule a meeting with your firm’s decision maker(s). You don’t have to give a hard pitch at this point, but give them enough information (benefits) that they can start mulling it over themselves, as you continue coming up with a solution.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get a read on the “temperature” of the decision makers to see how interested they are in change. One of my favorite pitches I’ve heard an attorney make to their older management group is the need to invest in new legal tech in order to attract the best young talent for the next generation of the law firm.
Create a task force
Once you’ve spoken to multiple members of the firm and pitched the management committee, it’s time to create a task force. If you are a small firm, it might only be one or two people, but having a few people on your side is always helpful. Also, creating a task force offers you multiple perspectives when you are meeting with software vendors. Typically on a task force, I see at least one partner, one paralegal, an IT administrator, and the firm administrator on the team.
I’m a big advocate for whiteboarding. Meet with your task force in a space with a whiteboard and lay out all the issues and possible solutions. Having a whiteboard in front of you allows the team to see everything at once and collaborate better on possible solutions.
Evaluate your options
Once you have a good understanding of the issues and possible solutions you’ve come up with, begin evaluating software packages. Look at the features listed on each providers website and begin to narrow down the software that would work for your firm.
When you’re evaluating different vendors, spend time looking at software reviews on sites like Capterra where it’s hard for a company to fake good reviews.
Also, depending on your role at the firm, I’ve seen a lot of success reaching out on chat boards in different organizations such as the Association of Legal Administrators. Here, you can get an idea of what other firms similar to yours are using and what they like/dislike about products.
Pitch it to the committee
Finally, bring everything to the table in your next management meeting. At this point, you should have a list of all the pain points members of your firm are facing and how practice management software might solve those problems.
If you can give actual ROI numbers, you have a better chance on selling members that aren’t totally sold. I’d also recommend bringing literature from the practice management software providers you’ve chosen, including pricing quotes, success stories and general software literature.