Cross servicing (a.k.a.: cross selling) is a crucial piece of successful law firm business development programs. In my conversations with attorneys, I often find that there is a universal struggle with how to start the cross servicing process. When evaluating your firm for successful cross servicing initiatives, it is important to make sure your team has the proper criteria in place. Here is a simple checklist to find out:
- Willingness to share and develop relationships. Most law firms have this piece in place (finally!). In many circumstances, gone are the days of lawyers hoarding clients; keeping them close for fear of them being stolen. These days, lawyers know that collaboration is the key to deepening relationships.
- Trust. Trust is crucial for success across all aspects of running a successful law firm. Without trust, things fall down pretty quickly before you even can get to cross servicing!
- Experience. Experience is the ‘cost of admission’ for successful cross servicing in the legal business. Attorneys should always be building upon their experience using tools like mentoring, CLEs, webinars, etc… In other words- take an active role in developing your skills in your niche.
- Deliberate, mutual and concerted effort. Cross servicing is not one-sided. You need to work together to make this work. There is no other way.
- Routine and open communication. Remember to create the habit of offering clients add-on services provided by fellow attorneys. Also, make cross servicing part of your team meetings, practice group discussions and industry group gatherings.
I was recently discussing the topic of cross selling with a client. As an internal marketing professional, she has a lot of experience with how to deepen relationships with and amongst her attorneys. She offered some thoughtful insight into the psychology behind the often unsurmountable task of selling more services to existing clients. I have to share her perspective! (By the way, I wish this were my brainchild!) Here you go:
Who wants to be sold to? No one! Who wants to get outstanding service? Everyone! Who wants to build long-term, loyal and dedicated relationships? Everyone! So why do we insist on calling this marketing technique “cross selling? Why don’t we rename it “cross servicing” and use the tool as an extension of our value proposition? Duh…
So, what is cross servicing? It is the method of educating existing clients (who already use one practice area) about ways to protect their interests, provide better products and services and deepen their own relationships. By introducing clients to helpful tools and resources (beyond the initial matter they have engaged you for), you help them think of you in multiple ways. The outcome? You know their business deeply and get the opportunity to work together on securing their success across a range of angles. It seems simple. I know it’s not. But, the psychological shift for both the buyer and the seller is groundbreaking.
It’s the ‘dog days’ of summer. According to Wikipedia, the expression ‘dog days’ refers to the hot, sultry days of summer in the areas around the Mediterranean Sea. Early civilizations would celebrate the rising of Orion’s dog constellation in July and August. The image of ancient people lounging around at night as they cooled off from a hot day, looking to the skies to watch the dog constellation arise, evokes thoughts of rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, not many of us are out start gazing these days, but the phrase still sticks. In late summer, people often plan to ‘just wait to start marketing’ in September. While I am a huge proponent of time off in the summer, I think waiting for September to start marketing is not a stellar idea.
Summertime is a great time to be planning and executing on your marketing plans. The reality is that marketing during the summer months is no different than the rest of the year. Yes, people take vacations, but there are plenty of people still around. In fact, their schedules may be a little lighter, making it easier to schedule in person lunches and activities. If you have a continual marketing and business development strategy, then you need to work it every month of the year. Following are a few tips for summertime marketing activities:
- Polish up your social media accounts. Create full profiles, connect to people you know, ask for introductions to people you want to know and begin building the habit of posting status updates routinely.
- Clean up your database. Confirm you have correct emails, phone numbers, mailing addresses, etc… so that you are ready to roll with those holiday cards or advisories.
- See people in person. Summer is a great time to get out of the office and visit your clients and referral sources. Go for a walk, grab an iced tea together or head outdoors for a quick lunch visit.
- Join a trade association that industry leaders are involved in. Reach out to the group, find out which opportunities will fit your needs and get committed to attend the fall meetings.
- Plan your calendar for the fall. Take this time to review who you want to connect with this fall and book appointments with yourself to reach out to someone every week.
- Reach out to your referral sources to say hello and find out what they are working on.
There are many things you can do to market your services in the summer. Don’t take a vacation from developing your business. Instead, take advantage of the freedom you may not always have during the year to get out of the office and in front of your clients.