Cross-selling By Any Other Name

Semantics sometimes get in the way of some good advice. When you try to convince clients (subtly or otherwise) to engage your law firm for additional services not previously rendered, I think it is silly to argue about whether you are cross-selling or cross-marketing clients.

I've known and admired Bob Denney for many years. He's not only a great guy, but one of the earliest consultants in our business going back at least to the early 80's. When I saw his article "Don't Cross-Sell, Cross-Market" on Attorney at Work, I almost passed it up, because I think it means the same thing to most lawyers. There is a difference between marketing and selling, of course, but to lawyers when you put a "cross-" before either, it is a difference without distinction IMO.

But, after reading his post I believe Bob's advice is worth our attention. In the interest of brevity, I've condensed his suggestions down to three bullets on how to get clients to give you that other work, no matter what you call it:

  • Create raving fans. Do so by providing great service so that clients are "delighted," not merely "satisfied," as Bob puts it. Raving fans are more than just clients that know, like and trust you. They are thrilled with what you did for them. Because of that, they are less likely to ask very many questions about whether you can handle their other work, if they knew you do such work;
  • Educate clients about your other services. One of the best ways to educate clients about those other services is to tell "war stories" that highlight the good things you have accomplished for clients in those areas. Also, send "newsletters or law alerts" that highlight those other services, and any clippings or web links showing press coverage about them; and
  • Ask questions and listen to your clients. In doing so, you will learn about their goals and plans, wants and needs, and by asking "leading questions" about other legal products (e.g. succession plan, partner buy-out, estate plan, etc.) that they might need, could result in your landing such work.

It doesn't matter what you call it, the important thing is to do the kinds of things that will give your clients reasons to give you their other work.

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