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[This is Part II of a blog post regarding why during this COVID-19 pandemic, clients are looking for their lawyers accountants to be Trusted Advisors, and how to accomplish that. Clients in 2020 are anxious, stressed, and vulnerable, which means they’re seeking integrity, sincerity, and authenticity from their service providers. In this uncertain environment, obvious sales efforts will be poorly received–like a lawyer trying to introduce you to their tax partner… while your house is on fire. The timing just feels wrong.  Read Part I here.]

I have been getting a lot of questions from lawyers, accountants, and marketers who are interested in cross-selling additional services to their existing clients. Perhaps they have professionals who are not busy and they would like to sell services in those areas.

I tell them to immediately stop.

First, cross-selling efforts are always fraught with peril. If the effort is made in order to keep your lawyers busy, or because you see the opportunity to generate more business, or make more money, those efforts will be poorly received. My dentist and his staff regularly try to up-sell me costly services I haven’t requested (and possibly don’t need). I hate it, and I resent their efforts.

However, that is not to say that seeking to cross-sell services should not be attempted. In fact, this is the best time in history to engage in cross-selling efforts. But it must be done under very careful circumstances.

When attempting to cross-sell it must come from a position of care, concern, and an interest in helping them through their problems. The strategy I recommend is to identify a team of professionals in different practices and industries who offer the full range of services and expertise a specific client might benefit from.

“Would that be helpful?”

I would call the client and suggest that you have a team of lawyers and professionals with a range of experiences representing similar companies in their industry who might be able to talk them through the current challenges and offer some specific solutions. Then ask the most critical phrase: “Would that be helpful?”

Then you arrange a videoconference with that dedicated team to spend some time discussing with the client their current challenges. Having different perspectives in a variety of areas of expertise on the same call is likely to generate valuable solutions for that client. Remember, you are not charging for this call or effort; you are simply investing in a valuable relationship.

Don’t sell. Please, don’t sell.

You cannot be perceived as selling during this call. That would be like approaching a client whose house is on fire to try to sell your firm’s tax services–it’s insensitive and tone deaf. (More in Part I.) Instead, seek to offer sophisticated and meaningful advice and assistance to help them survive today’s pandemic-related business challenges. Because that is what a Trusted Advisor would do.

If legal work flows from this, then you may charge for it. But you do not charge for the brief phone calls or strategy sessions.

Looking at your efforts through a “Trusted Advisor” lens makes it almost impossible to make a misstep in your marketing and communications today.  If it is seen as an authentic attempt to help, then you have strengthened your relationship. Because that is what a Trusted Advisor would do. 

Take care and be safe, everyone. Please feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss this, or any other marketing issue, in greater detail.


Interested in booking Ross Fishman for a webinar, marketing training, or Ethics CLE program? See rossfishman.comContact Ross directly at, or 1.847.921.7677!


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