“We’ve got all these services…why can’t we sell more of them?”
This continues to be the ‘cri de coeur’ of many senior partners or directors in professional firms (and indeed much more widely). Instead of being a revenue and profit multiplier, the inability of their professionals to spot and capitalise on opportunities to gain more work for colleagues – even from satisfied existing clients – has ruined the reasonable pretensions of many a good business plan.
Why? Well, it comes down to some fundamental ‘becauses’ that can win the day if not addressed. Here are three of the big ones and some food for thought and action if they are to be overcome successfully.
Because they don’t ask This is a classic manifestation at networking events. Professionals talk to (or rather at) prospects or contacts, seemingly unable to move outside their own narrow specialism – because they don’t feel confident or equipped to ask the right questions.
To get them client-curious usually requires a three-pillared approach: “upknowledging” so that they understand enough about what other departments do; “upskilling” to give them the selling tools to engage contacts without boring or being a put-off; and “upmotivating” to provide the encouragement and stimulus that helps overcome reticence: which leads us directly to…
Because they aren’t rewarded “It was my contact, I had done all the ground work, but the partner just muscled in at the end, took it over…..and claimed it!”
Yes, this sort of thing should not happen….but it does and is corrosive because it stifles exploitation of the huge contact base and pool of work available to firms from the managers, associates and others who operate below senior level.
Fundamentally, it’s a leadership issue for partners and directors who have to accept that their job is to facilitate the growth of their business through others as much as themselves: no egos or personal fiefdoms. That means encouraging and publicly praising the selling efforts and achievements of the people they manage. It is also a firm-wide issue to ensure that the reward systems for cross selling at all levels are in place, work effectively for everyone, and are not exploited detrimentally: which leads us in turn to……
Because it’s not on the agenda ….systemic issues. Cross selling success (or the lack of it) is one of the best measures of how open your firm’s culture really is. It requires trust in colleagues and more leadership at all levels of seniority – both to support best practice and be uncompromising when it comes to addressing negative or self-seeking behaviours.
Without such bravery, the “becauses” will be victorious. Do they succeed in your firm?