Mark Powers and Shawn McNalis

Originally appeared in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

Q: I am a real property attorney. Although I focus mainly on residential real estate work, I also do some estate planning. I would like to expand my estate planning practice because I think there is potential for growth in that area. Any ideas?

A: You are correct in your assertion that estate planning is an area with tremendous growth potential. The “age-wave revolution” brought by the sheer number of aging baby boomers — and their changing need for goods and services — is now upon us. Fortunately, you are in an ideal position to profit from this demographic bulge as you have an established estate planning practice. Furthermore, the real property part of your practice presents many hidden opportunities for “cross-selling” into estate planning. The combination of a real property practice and an estate planning practice creates what we call a complimentary “practice mix.”

Let’s take a look at how you can develop some strategies for cross-selling your existing client base. Suppose you wish to emphasize basic estate planning services such as wills and trusts. You have a steady stream of real estate clients coming through your office. Presumably you provide them with great service and deliver a nice closing package to them in the end. But, once you mail them the final documents you rarely have contact with them again. This is where your opportunity lies. Enclose a letter, attached to the final documents, thanking them for doing business with you and informing them that their recent purchase may increase their need for estate planning services. Following is an example of the type of letter you could send.

Dear _________,

Now that you have closed on your recent purchase and have settled in, I hope you are enjoying your new home. It was our pleasure to work with you on this purchase and I want to remind you of some important issues you should now be considering.

The purchase of real estate is often one of the largest financial commitments a person can make. Properly cared for, it can provide security for you and your family for years. But often neglected is the need to plan for sudden and unexpected illness or even death. Therefore, I suggest you review with your insurance agent your life and disability insurance coverage.

In addition, you may want to rewrite any will or trust you may now have; or if you do not have a will, trust or an estate plan, you may want to consider it at this time. The cost of these protection devices is surprisingly low, especially in light of the protection they afford you and your family.

Our office has prepared hundreds of wills or trusts for our clients and would be delighted to meet with you on the subject. Our initial consultation is complimentary, at which time we can evaluate your situation and advise you of the costs and benefits of various options tailored to your specific needs.

Please feel free to call our office for any matters on which we may assist you. Until then, I remain,

As part of your cross-selling campaign you may want to create a questionnaire or “needs analysis” that you can either mail or give to clients in person. Design this questionnaire as a legal evaluation checklist that allows clients to discover their current legal needs in a given area. In addition, you may want to include a list of all your practice areas on your intake form and ask clients to check off areas in which they have questions. Your practice areas can also be included in your letterhead to inform clients of your many services from their first contact with you.

Remember that cross-selling is not difficult — especially when it is systemized. It is a matter of taking simple steps to inform clients of your additional services. Cross-selling to your existing clientele is the least expensive form of marketing — and most attorneys fail to recognize and capture the additional business opportunities at their fingertips. Don’t be one of them!

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