Many law firms will find a lawyer who has clients with a variety of needs to be a great candidate for their firm. It makes great sense, but most law firms don’t take advantage of the opportunity. Why?

In a nutshell, most firms do a poor job of cross-selling. There are a variety of reasons cross-selling is challenging. One reason is most firms have no plan or strategy for cross-selling. As a result, at best it is done on an ad-hoc basis. At worst, clients resent they are being “sold.”

When I was practicing law, we hired a consulting firm to help us with our strategic plan and paid them more money than I ever imagined. One of the consultants told me,

Cordell, you need to ‘cross-sell’ your firm’s labor and employment lawyers and environmental lawyers to your construction clients.

I replied,

I think that really makes great sense, but you have it backwards. Our labor and employment lawyers and our enviromental lawyers need to demonstrate they understand construction labor and employment issues and construction enviromental law issues.

Later, at a partners’ meeting, the consultants said our marketing cross-selling strategy should be to “further penetrate” our clients.

I raised my hand, stood up and said: “I had taken a survey and my clients unanimously had reported that they did not want to be ‘penetrated’ much less ‘further penetrated.’

I had never heard penetration used in the context of marketing or cross-selling.

I later learned that “penetration selling” means increasing current client revenues through increased usage or additional types of legal work. The problem with it is that it focuses on client revenues rather than client valuable service.