4. Zoho One for the Business Development Consultant


David H Freeman, J.D., CEO of the David Freeman Consulting Group, has helped thousands of managing partners, group and department leaders, partners, counsel, and associates become better leaders and rainmakers in hundreds of law firms worldwide. In October 2020, David Freeman Consulting Group elected Zoho One as their business process management platform.

Executive Summary

David H. Freeman, J.D. counsels lawyers and law firms on establishing stronger habits around leadership, business development, and client service. He is a two-time, all-time, best-selling author, is in the National Law Journal Hall of Fame for being voted the #1 business development consultant and coach for three consecutive years, and is a highly rated speaker, consultant, and trainer.

Such stellar expertise warrants a large amount of business data. In November of 2020, United Parts of Chicago had the honor to help Mr. Freeman with the most prominent information challenge for the last 20 years.


Mr. Freeman had selected Zoho One as an operational platform for his consulting business, migrating from the ACT! CRM after 20 years of consecutive use. After such a long time, changing the platform is rare; like every rare case, there were serious reasons: the near-to-archaeological user interface of the 20 years old system and the architecture with a stand-alone application.

David Freeman Consulting Group were the long-time ACT! CRM users, and this is a sincere compliment to the fellow platform. However, times are changing. In October 2020, Mr. Freeman decided to move his digital assets to Zoho. Every successful business is continually evolving, and the lack of customization on the user’s side sealed the fate of the old platform in a unanimous decision.

David H. Freeman, J.D.
David H. Freeman, J.D.

The Business

David H. Freeman, J.D.:
“For over 26 years, we’ve work primarily with lawyers and law firms to help them find ways to provide higher levels of client service and generate more revenue. We’ve been honored to work with over 200 law firms worldwide, and we have served nearly half of the largest 200 law firm in the U.S.”

The Challenge

David H. Freeman, J.D.:

“My challenge with my prior CRM was that it was not functioning well and could not keep up with my evolving needs. I also wanted to find a way to integrate various aspects of my business into one platform, such as billing and funnel management, which I will be able to do seamlessly from the Zoho platform..”

For the implementation team, the biggest challenge was to map two different data structures correctly. ACT! CRM and Zoho CRM are different, and with hundreds of thousands of records, any mistake could be nearly impossible to correct. We have done a variety of tests using the Zoho One sandbox to ensure that we are migrating the data correctly.
Secrets of the Masters: The Business Development Guide for Lawyers
Secrets of the Masters: The Business Development Guide for Lawyers

Finding a Solution

Being an experienced CRM user, Mr. Freeman had evaluated the most popular options available on the CRM market in 2020. As an author of the automated coaching technology to drive cross-selling, he made a well-informed decision. After the initial trial setup, Zoho CRM won the competition with the following key advantages:

  • Availability of real-time support from both the manufacturer and Zoho Partners;
  • User interface;
  • Mobile app functionality;
  • The total cost of ownership.

The implementation has been performed by Dmitry Skylark of United Parts of Chicago, a Zoho Authorized Partner. David H. Freeman, J.D.:

“As a trainer and coach who teaches the value of responsiveness and curating an excellent customer experience, my standards are high for those who provide services to me. I must say that my expectations were actually exceeded by Dmitry and his team, in terms of speed of response, availability, results and being proactive to suggest approaches I hadn’t thought of myself. He is extremely patient and thorough, providing extensive email explanations and taking the extra time to teach me how to use functions that were foreign to me either by phone or screensharing. It’s rare to find anyone who has the “above-and-beyond” mentality, and Dmitry brings that to every exchange we have had.”
Zoho One
Zoho Books
Special thanks to friend and colleague Andy and his supernatural Microsoft Excel power.

Implementation and Results

The first phase of the implementation took about 20 days, and most of this time taken by the data work: exporting, processing, and importing. With the given number of the records (more than 500,000 lines in CSVs) and their structure, which is very different from the modern Zoho’s import requirements, it was not a couple of clicks.

The ACT! CRM, one of the oldest CRM platforms, has a different paradigm in 2000 than Zoho CRM in 2020. One of the most significant differences is task management. In Zoho CRM, a user can create an activity of the three major types: a meeting, a call, and a task. There is no such thing as a To-Do entry in Zoho CRM. In the ACT!, a user can create the To-Do records of the various types, and these records behave differently depends on the selected type.

Another challenge was the way the ACT! data were populated years ago. Like in every big data, there were essential fields that were empty, not-so-important fields with irrelevant information, and many drafts that never happened to be finished.

To secure the data during the migration process, we took all reasonable measures. If we needed to transfer an archive, it has been packed by a 7-Zip archiver with a long, secure, non-dictionary password. Upon completion, the intermediate data was meticulously deleted from everywhere. Upon completion, Zoho became the inalienable part of David Freeman Consulting Group’s business.

At this moment, David Freeman Consulting Group is using Zoho CRM as the primary business application. Zoho One has more than 45 applications to cover every aspect of the business, so gradual implementation is the most natural and convenient way.

As a part of the project, we helped Mr. Freeman migrate the website to the most reliable and fast VPS hosting in the U.S., securing the regular website maintenance with a convenient service package. David Freeman, J.D.:

“So far I am still in the learning curve so it is not yet intuitive, but with Dmitry’s help and my own time on task, I can see how this will become a powerful engine to support the growth of my business.”