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The Mad Clientist

The Business Development Window is About to Open—For a Very Short Time

By March 8, 2017April 16th, 2020No Comments

It’s prime cross-selling season.

Every 12 to 18 months your clients face new and vexing problems. These issues change like clockwork. Some will appear, disappear, and reappear over time—but the issues will always have a new and more complex twist. The time is upon us.

There are few better cross-selling opportunities than to send a couple of partners to talk about these new vexing issues with clients before they start seeking answers for themselves. You want to position yourselves as the source. Even if you don’t have the answers you want to be the first to hear the questions—so you can get your clients the answers before anyone else.

Done right, you will be informing your clients about high-value issues and your clients will talk to their corporate counsel peers about how helpful your partners are. The law firms who are best at using this opportunity to develop business rely on a small group of partners—think 3 or 4—who have the knowledge and client savvy to join the relationship partner in visiting top clients. These partners bring the relevant insight, are skilled in sharing this insight, and know how to work with the relationship partner to turn these conversations into business.

These are the partners who know you can only cross-sell when you add value. And they know helping clients think through their most vexing issues—the issues keeping clients awake at night—adds the most value while also bringing new partners into the relationship—the trifecta for big-time cross-selling.

BTI’s exclusive research with more than 300 top legal decision makers* uncovered the top issues causing their insomnia. These are your best fodder for the prime cross-selling season ahead. The top 3 issues are:

The Potential Breakdown of the Regulatory World

The removal of regulations is as rattling as adding new ones. Potential changes in regulations tie cybersecurity as the biggest source of insomnia for top legal decision makers.

Regulatory issues have been growing as a top concern for the last 3 years. The last 2 years were driven by increasingly aggressive interpretation and enforcement. We now see top legal decision makers focused on which regulations will be rolled back, changed, and how long the rollbacks might stick. It seems the corporate counsel community would welcome a rollback but wants specifics—and wants to be sure these relaxed regulations won’t somehow be reinstated.

Companies with international operations are also concerned about the regulatory impact of a post-Brexit world—and any implications before, during, and after.


Cybersecurity is tied with regulatory issues to top the list of sleepless nights, up from number 4 last year—and was not even on the list of top concerns prior to 2014. Chief legal officers know data security issues lurk in so many places, and states are especially aggressive in passing new requirements and regulations. Your knowledge of the state requirements and current best practices will open doors to new business.

Managing Risk

Risk comes in many forms. The common denominator is assessing the unknown. Top legal decision makers welcome knowledge-rich discussions about managing risk. This offers law firms the opportunity to tap each partner in the firm for at least one suggestion to manage risk and create a risk management database to use firmwide. You can then tailor the suggestions for each specific client by practice, industry, and type of company to drive client-specific discussions with multiple partners.

These vexing issues will continue to be a prime opportunity during cross-selling season—but your window is limited. The partners who have these discussions after the 1st quarter and proxy season winds down have the best opportunity. This window extends into the first 2 months and winds down as the quarter ends.

Take the chart below, or issues in the chart below, and discuss with your clients. Go over every item and see where your clients think they stand. You will get an education about how your clients think about their world, and walk away with new business. 

*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and August 2016. BTI conducted more than 330 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations, as well as 200 interviews with law firm leaders.

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