Whatever approaches management choose to use to address the lack of cross selling, they need to bear in mind the deeper psychological factors. Let’s consider why cross selling isn’t happening to the extent that most firms would wish?
Firstly, many partners don’t know enough about what their clients need. Partners are typically too transaction-oriented and not relationship-oriented. They feel more comfortable doing the job, being a technician. After all, it’s why most lawyers were attracted to the law.
Then, partners also don’t know enough about what their colleagues do. This is potentially an embarrassing situation and it can be hard to ask a fellow partner at lunch ‘What do you do?’. Particularly if they’ve been in the firm for 5 years or so!
Then there’s fear! Fear that the other partner and team you introduce will screw up and spoil the relationship. After all the hard work you’ve put in and the sense that everybody is looking at your figures and client following, why would you take any risks on this?
Then, there’s the even deeper fear – that the client will prefer them to you! How awful would that be! I wonder if this deep fear is why so many partners fail to brief their colleagues on all the little things they know their client contacts love, like that reassuring phone call on a Friday afternoon?
For cross selling to work from the client perspective, the new service being introduced needs to be carefully delivered so it remains seamless – perhaps with the Client Partner taking an active role in the delivery. How many partners like their work to be ‘coordinated’ by another partner, particularly a partner in another practice group?
Anything management does to improve cross-selling needs to be sensitive to these potential psychological barriers.
More on the art of cross selling is in my handbook for lawyers called Pitch Perfect available at http://www.amazon.com/The-BD-Handbook-Lawyers-Perfect/dp/1783060301
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