This article synopsizes a presentation by Martha Cusick Eddy, Kathy Holmes and Phil Nugent on how to overcome lawyer reluctance and reap the benefits of cross-selling. This is part four of a six-part article. A link to the entire article appears below.
The general concept of sales is scary even to trained members of professional sales teams; it is even scarier to untrained lawyers.
“Plus, lawyers have more specific fears,” said Cusick Eddy. “There is the fear of failure if you make a pitch and lose. There is the fear that you will no longer ‘own’ the client relationship and your business will cease to be as portable. There is the fear that you will lose credibility with the client if the new lawyer does not live up to expectations.”
In addition to fear, many lawyers dislike the idea of selling. Now legal marketers and consultants are asking them to not only sell themselves, but also sell their peers.
“It helps to re-brand cross-selling by calling it something else – cross-marketing, cross-introduction, cross-pollination or cross-referral,” said Cusick Eddy. “Emphasize introductions and improved/expanded service rather than sales.”
Address fear and loathing with persuasive facts. “Start with willing participants who are not afraid,” said Cusick Eddy. “Start small and keep it simple. Circulate the news about positive outcomes throughout the firm to chip away at negative attitudes and bring the rest of your lawyers along slowly.”
One of the best ways to overcome fear and loathing is to demonstrate to your lawyers that most of their clients are pleased by a proactive approach and interested in a wider range of services.
“Conduct routine formal client interviews and informal checkups to assess client needs,” said Cusick Eddy. “You will find that clients want to know about other areas in which you can make their lives easier or deliver better value. Then, go back to the relationship attorney with this evidence in support of your cross-selling efforts.”
Planning and execution are the true keys to overcoming fear and dislike of sales among lawyers. “You need the right people, on the right bus, at the right time and going in the right direction,” said Cusick Eddy.
“The ‘right people’ are lawyers who are interested in cross-selling and ready to put aside the six common objections,” said Cusick Eddy. “The ‘right bus’ is a willingness to do what it takes to manage and exchange relationships. The ‘right time’ is when a client need has been identified. The ‘right direction’ is targeting existing clients who have a strong relationship with the lead attorney and a high level of satisfaction with the work.”