• August 16, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Transforming Data Into Revenue

Professional services companies need precise capabilities, such as referral tracking and relationship discovery, to increase their chances of acquiring new business. Different client databases within these firms can splinter prospect organization, and the lack of a centralized look at the client base can put a hurdle in the path of firms on the quest for new clients. Accounting firm Vitale, Caturano and Co. faced this challenge before Interface Software provided it with a CRM package.

"We were experiencing the same standard frustrations that most professional service firms run into in that people had disparate databases, so we might have several people contacting the same person over at a law firm about an opportunity," says Jill Hulsen, director of marketing at Vitale. "We had no central database for knowing whom knew whom, [and] we couldn't manage our mailing list properly...because we didn't have a centralized database."

"In most organizations professionals have their own contact list, but because they're all separate, there is no way to easily find out everybody that knows somebody," says Barry Solomon, executive vice president of Interface Software. "What we do is bring all the information together so that at Vitale--and [with] all of our customers--you can easily find out who knows who, and who knows what's happening at clients and at other important contacts...."

Vitale implemented Interface Software's InterAction. The Boston-based accounting firm gathered the databases and Excel spreadsheets that people were using, then imported them into InterAction to create a master database, including clients, employees, friends of the firm, and professionals. "Since [then] we have done some very targeted marketing. [W]e have industry groups, so we've gone out and purchased some lists and done some research around possible targets within certain industries, and we have imported those lists into InterAction and made them a part of our master database," Hulsen says.

Vitale focused on CFOs of public companies by purchasing a list of targeted companies in the New England area for an October 2003 marketing program. The firm imported that list into InterAction and matched it against preexisting data within it. For those contacts already in InterAction, Vitale determined who within the company knew the contact, and the remaining portion of the mailing list was circulated amongst the partners to see if they knew anyone on this portion of the list. "We went around to the partner that had the strongest relationship with that contact on the mailing list, and the partner actually wrote a hand-written note on that mailer and that mailer went out to that person," Hulsen says. Vitale is reaping the benefits: To date, of the 220 mailed out 26 have become clients of the firm. With the help of InterAction Vitale can also keep track of who on the firm's mailing lists attend events it hosts, including seminars, social events, and business development dinners, and can keep track of whether or not the firm received referred business from attendees.

Solomon says that Vitale "found--and I think a lot of our customers find--that the key to making this work is to make it very easy and have it really be completely integrated within Outlook. People get an email from somebody. That's the point where they want to say, Well, who is that person and what is the complete 360-degree view? At Vitale they have a button that they can push, so it's important to both understand all of these benefits, but then to also understand that the way people work is often just to live in their case, to live within Outlook."

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