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The 5 Traits of Successful Cross-Selling Firms

By July 28, 2018February 3rd, 2020No Comments

What Enables Some Firms to Successfully Cross-Sell?

I discussed “The top 5 reasons your law firm can’t cross-sell” in a previous blog post HERE.  This post will detail the attributes of those firms that are effectively diversifying the services that they provide to their clients, with the goal of expanding their services or “institutionalizing” these clients.

The point is, if you are confident that your firm possesses all 5 of the characteristics listed below, then the door is open to potentially selling additional services to your existing single-practice clients. If you don’t, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be successful over time, and I would suggest that you either (1) work to gradually change your culture to become more equitable and team-oriented, or (2) reduce your efforts toward cross-selling in favor of the many other marketing activities that can prove effective at all types of firms.

Firms that excel in cross-selling tend to have the following attributes:

(1) Strong leadership that supports and rewards sharing.

(2) A firm-wide culture of trust and friendship among the partners.

(3) A fair compensation system that

(a) acknowledges the significant risk to the partner controlling the relationship, and

(b) directly and clearly rewards the important efforts of both the relationship partner and the support partners who helped bring in the new work.

(4) Effective internal communications that informs everyone regarding the nature of the firm’s practices and clients, to help identify potential opportunities.

(5) Marketing training that teaches the lawyers how to approach cross-selling in a way that benefits the client, rather than just the lawyers.

BTW, many untrained lawyers try to sell additional practice areas via “sneak attack”: 

Lawyer: Hi [Corporate Client], I haven’t seen you in a while; let me buy you lunch!

Client: Sure, that’d be great, thanks.

Lawyer: I’m going to bring along Brittany, a litigator I’d like to introduce you to.

Client [realizes he’s just been tricked into a 90-minute food-based sales pitch]: Ugh. OK, fine.

That doesn’t work.  It’s not enough to simply share a logo with Brittany.


(1) The client hadn’t expressed a clear and specific need for another litigator, and

(2) The lawyer hadn’t established why Brittany is a better option for the client than the skilled litigators they are invariably already using.

In the past decade, many global companies have been streamlining their administration and procurement with one-stop shopping at fewer law firms, making successful cross-selling more likely. But those firms must still compete for this work against the other international law firms where the internal barriers might be lower.

Obviously, there’s much more to this complex topic. But this is a start.

Does this make sense? Let me know what you think.


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