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December 19, 2010

Cross-Selling: You guys partners? Or just sharing space?

See Tom Kane's piece "Why Cross-selling Doesn't Work, But Could" at his Legal Marketing Blog, and the related links.

Few law firms cross-sell partners effectively. Lots don't even try. And then there's this problem: most law firms of any size or sophistication have been reduced to an aggregation of several (or many) smaller fiefdoms or, if you will, "collection of boutiques". These fiefdoms and boutiques tend to be disturbingly insular, with little overlap on anything, including issue-spotting for clients and marketing functions.

In these firms, partners are "friends" and space-sharers--but not true partners in an entrepreneurial sense. Such firms have a built-in prejudice against growth by cross-selling. They are legion. But they do have a few highly frustrated principals or leaders who recognize the problem. That's a start.

As Tom points out, there are five main "killers"--or reasons cross-selling is not happening at law firms. One is the personal insecurities triggered in partners by the notion of cross-selling other partners in the firm. This could be either (a) lack of confidence in the "receiving" partner's work (bad but understandable) or (b) outright fear of 'losing' the client to another partner (bad and wimpy). Tom, who I know to be a gentleman, has a much nicer way of talking about "Killer No. 1":

1. Lack of trust (that the other partner will treat the client well, or treat them too well thereby supplanting their own relationship with that client contact).


(appeared originally on Sept. 27, 2010)

Posted by JD Hull at December 19, 2010 11:59 PM


Cross selling rarely, if ever, works for any business because it is against the self-interest of the "seller."

Anyone pushing cross selling ought to be required to list the same/similar who do such successfully.

For starters, there is no percentage in taking the risk of a bad experience with a partner. Think about it. Have you never read Cialdini or looked at the psychological forces behind repealing Obamacare? Hint---People fear loss more than they want change and gain.

Frame the question properly.

Joe has been a good client for the past 10 years and will be for the next 20. His daughter is a nut job, with 2 kids, and is going to be involved in a nasty divorce. If I send him to Bill in litigation what will I gain vs. what do I stand to loose, if Joe gets mad when his grandkids are given to the former son-in-law?

The right answer---you tell Joe, there are some guys on 20th street that do that kind of work.

Harry Beckwith has, as I recall, written and talked about this extensively. Its not Moe's job to read Beckwith for the Bar (or JD)

A blog on client relationships ought to know Beckwith, and Cialdini forward and backward, and at least post their point of view (and rebut the same) when offering a thought.

Posted by: Moe Levine at December 20, 2010 07:08 AM

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