Question: How can I get my partner to cross-sell me to some of her great contacts?
Adam Severson: I recommend that you give before you get. Often people don’t react well when others come to them with their hand out. However, if you’ve offered an opportunity to meet a client or pursue a new piece of business for one of your contacts in the past, people are more likely to reciprocate.
It helps build teamwork and trust. Trust is a foundational element of cross-selling — or as I like to say, cross-serving. When you do have a service to offer, consider the client’s perspective on the potential opportunity and how you can craft your request in a client-centric way. Too frequently, lawyers will be overly simplistic in their approach with statements like, “They have employees, we should be doing their employment work.”
As you reach out to an attorney colleague, craft your approach in a way that homes in on their industry and why it would be beneficial to them. For example, when considering an approach on employment opportunities, you could educate your colleague about the recent changes issued by the Department of Labor and how those are affecting businesses and their classification of salaried employees. Then, you could help craft an intro to the client on their behalf. You might say:
“Given that XYZ Company is in the health care industry, we’ve found that nurse practitioners’ classifications are affected due to the recent changes issued by the DOL. We’ve been providing a fixed fee audit for some clients to review classifications status. This has saved companies money and potential fines. Would XYZ Company be open to a conversation about that?”
This is a user-friendly approach and makes it easier for a client to “kick your tires.” And, in the event the client declines, you could learn more about how they are currently handling these matters, which is valuable intelligence in managing the relationship.
This approach is typically more well-received than simply asking to meet their client. It also includes an assumption that you are considered competent by your colleague. Cross-serving can be tricky, but with clear communication and a client-centric approach, more opportunities can be pursued.
Adam Severson (@aseves) is the chief marketing and business development officer at Baker Donelson. He is responsible for the strategic direction and execution of the firm’s business development and marketing initiatives and collaborates with the firm’s lawyers and professional staff to maintain a client focus, increase marketplace awareness and facilitate cross-office and cross-practice collaboration. Adam is very active in the legal marketing industry and is the immediate past president of the Legal Marketing Association.
Lisa Simon: The key to cross-selling is to focus on what the client wants and needs, not what you want and need. In this case, the client is your partner. What’s in it for her? Why should she introduce you to her contacts?
Instead of making a blanket request to be introduced to your partner’s contacts, pick three and learn what you can about the contact, their company and their legal needs. Then focus on what you specifically have to offer that contact or client that will help them with their business objectives. Work with your partner on how to make the introduction and the key selling points for why the meeting will be of value to the contact or client. This process can help develop trust between you and your partner, which is another important component of cross-selling.
Ours is a relationship business and that doesn’t apply solely to external client relationships. Your partners are your clients, too.
Lisa Simon (@lisatoweysimon) is the chief client development officer at Lathrop & Gage where she oversees the firm’s national business development and marketing initiatives. Lisa is a frequent presenter on client feedback, competitive and market intelligence, value pricing and marketing communications. She is a former president of the Legal Marketing Association.
More on Cross-Selling
- Cross-Selling Made Simple by Sally J. Schmidt
- Don’t Cross Sell, Cross Market by Bob Denney
- Why Won’t My Partner Cross-Sell Me? by Merrilyn Astin Tarlton
- Cross-Selling: Lawyers’ Three-Headed Sales Monster by Mike O’Horo
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