We all know that it takes a lot more time and costs more money to win new business than to look after the clients you already have. On this basis, it should mean that cross-selling services in professional firms is a very profitable activity.
In our experience, the reality is that most departments within professional practices operate independently from other practice areas. At board meetings and team briefings, cross-selling is promoted as the easy business development tool and receives a very positive response. However most of the enthusiasm goes no further that this and it is often because people are focused on individual or departmental goals rather than firm-wide ones.
Rather than seeing it as a threat to their relationship with a client, the partner or manager in charge of the client in question should embrace establishing more points of contact with them to embed them into the existing relationship more firmly.
There are standard objections you will come across in professional firms when you try to encourage an active cross-selling strategy.
- Unwillingness or lack of knowledge of how to sell.
- Lack of knowledge regarding other partner’s practices.
- The firm does not compensate for cross-selling activities.
- Fear of losing clients.
- The firm does not recognise cross-selling appropriately.
- The client already works with another firm in other practice areas.
- Fear of imposing on other partners.
Overcoming these initial objections will go a long way toward getting a cross-selling programme started and a strategy in place to ensure momentum is generated. It may mean that the firm will have to change the way it thinks about compensation, ownership of clients and its approach to selling. It could also mean that the firm will have to cease relying on individual rainmakers and teach staff to work in teams focused on client needs.
If you would like help on putting together a successful strategy for cross-selling in your firm, please email me.