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Lawyers struggle to cross-sell the other services offered by their firms, or those offered by referral sources whom they'd like to repay. Setting aside the baseline problem of lawyers generally having little marketing or sales experience, acumen or awareness, the central cause of cross-selling difficulties is what I call "product-centrism." This is the tendency (or longstanding habit) of looking at everything through the narrow lens of your product, i.e., the nouns that identify your practice specialty, e.g., M&A, Employment, etc.

Think of a large law firm as being like a supermarket offering an array of products (services) to fill as many corporate needs as possible, with aims to be the source corporate buyers turn to each time those needs arise, all their lives. So, take a tip from what grocers have learned: It isn't important which specific need brings you into the store. It's only important to get you to come in frequently, and fill up your cart with some of the goods that you stock.

If you're a solo, or in a small firm, you may see this as less applicable to you, but only if your vision is limited to the inside of your office. You're probably part of a virtual larger firm consisting of a network of a) lawyers with other specialties, to whom you refer work, and from whom you get work, and b) other professionals and advisors such as bankers, accountants, consultants, etc. Oh, and don't forget your clients. You refer customers and clients to them, don't you, and get referrals and introductions from them? (John Donne was right: No man is an island.)

Lawyers too often seem interested only in pitching their personal practices. An environmental lawyer meets a business executive and automatically probes for potential environmental work.  Instead, discuss the executive's industry and company. Probe for the corporate need that will motivate the executive to come into your legal services "store" and give you (or someone in your network) a chance to be useful and demonstrate the impact you can deliver. Those business problems (and the legal issues that ultimately derive from them), foremost in this decision maker's mind, are the point of easiest entry.  

Whatever the size of your firm or network, think like a grocer. Once the buyer is in your store and has been pleased with a buying decision, you will have plenty of opportunities to discuss other issues, including those that more directly benefit you and your practice. Begin by helping them with what's already on their mind, whether you're a beneficiary or not.


The easiest and most reliable way to begin buyer-focused conversations that also relate directly to your interests (and eliminate the cross-selling problem entirely) is by exploring a Door-Opener problem. To learn more about this powerful tool, read about The "Door-Opener": Associating Yourself with Business Problems That Drive Demand for Your Expertise.