Cross-Selling and Cross-Serving

The objective of cross-selling is increasing Share-of-Wallet (“SWO”), the percentage of the total legal spend of your client that goes to your firm, by convincing clients to start buying services from a different practice group or another office.

Cross-selling is a fixture in the business development toolkit for law firms. If firms can manage to overcome some of the obstacles that can complicate cross-selling initiatives, it can be a very effective method to generate new business.

Cross-selling is about effectively communicating your service offering and seizing the momentum of an ongoing business relationship to pitch additional services. But it is also about building trust and understanding your client’s needs. The better you can anticipate demand, the more effective your cross-selling will be. Hence the notion of “cross-serving”, reflecting an approach that thinks from a client needs or ‘jobs-to-be-done’ perspective.

Too many law firms continue to make the mistake of executing a cross-sell strategy based on the perceived “gaps” in their billing, rather than on the real needs of their clients. Upselling, a similar effort to increase SWO from existing clients, is aimed at generating more revenue by trying to sell more strategic, higher-margin services than those delivered in the current relationship. Up-selling is about gaining trustworthiness to become eligible for highly sensitive and strategic premium work.

In professional services, this means moving up the value chain and steadily climbing the pyramid of client relationships. When up-selling, lawyers need “upgrade” from being a mere vendor or ‘professional visitor’ to a subject expert, and a recognized solution provider. At the top of that client value pyramid sits the Trusted Advisor. He or she will have gained the absolute confidence of senior executive officers, proactively offering advice on the most strategic matters.


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