Do You Have What It Takes to Create Collaborative, Cross-selling Teams?

It’s no secret that one of a firm’s greatest business development assets is its existing client base, yet across the industry firms continue to struggle with cross-selling. And that weakness results in lost clients.  

 According to a recent study by Altman Weil, 35% of clients who only used one practice area left after three years; less than 15% of clients who used three practice areas left after three years; and less than 5% of clients that used four or five practice areas left after three years. 

There are a number of barriers lawyers cite that keep them from pursuing cross-selling opportunities:  

  • They’re focused exclusively on billable hours.
  • They don’t like selling what they don’t fully understand.
  • They’re concerned about credit/attribution.
  • It makes them feel vulnerable.
  • They have not developed meaningful relationships with enough of the other attorneys at their firms.
  • They question the other attorney’s competency.
  • And often, they simply don’t want to share. 

For firms, those barriers create a roadblock that keeps them from optimizing valuable cross-selling opportunities.  

The sales opportunities lost are significant. A survey we conducted in a recent webinar found that nearly 95% of legal marketers claim their firms are only capitalizing up to half of their cross-selling potential. Only one percent claimed to be capitalizing 75% or more.  

How can legal marketers and business developers help attorneys overcome barriers and create collaborative teams that effectively leverage cross-selling opportunities?  

According to our webinar co-presenter Dr. Larry Richard, productive, collaborative teams share four team fundamentals: leadership, acceptance or psychological safety for members, competency trust among team members, and clear firm expectations. Attorneys, in particular, based on their unique personality traits, require certainty, predictability, process, and a person driving the process to be successful in collaborative situations. 

Each of these fundamentals is a topic in itself, but one element that’s particularly important to lawyers is to foster competency trust in a team setting. Firms are typically good at fostering interpersonal trust (fostering “collegial” cultures and plenty of social activity at partner retreats) but competency trust is a different matter altogether. Competency trust (when one person trusts the professional abilities of another) is often trickier to foster and is frequently why clients aren’t shared across a team. 

While creating collaborative teams may seem like a daunting task for legal marketers and business developers, given typical firm dynamics and their never-ending list of other responsibilities, the right business development technology and support can be the key to making it possible and profitable 

PipelinePlus not only makes it simple for lawyers to manage their most important business development relationships it also allows them – and the leaders responsible for ensuring their success – to see when their business development efforts with a particular client overlap with another lawyer’s and provides an easy way for them to begin collaborating on a coordinated approach. 

In addition, PipelinePlus e-learning videos and worksheets provide valuable cross-selling strategies and tips for identifying potential cross-selling targets, assessing their needs, defining intended outcomes, and developing expansion strategies. And, monthly, 30-minute Pipeline Focus sessions with users, which are conducted by Ackert business development faculty members, help to systemize process, encourage best practices and motivate users.