1. How well do the lawyers in your firm evaluate the opportunity before deciding to respond to RFPs or developing a pitch/proposal?
Create and use a “go/no go checklist” for lawyers to use (with or without the assistance of in-house marketing and business development staff) to evaluate key strategic issues before spending a lot of non-billable time and resources responding to an RFP and/or making a pitch. Below are a few key questions to include:
§ Are there any explicit or potential legal and/or business conflicts of interest?
§ Is this opportunity aligned with our firm/practice group strategy?
§ Can we offer strong competitive advantages?
§ Is the work a core competency of ours? Is it in our “sweet spot” – what we excel at doing?
§ Can we get the desired result (the win) for the client?
§ Will winning provide us with any competitive advantages?
§ Can we staff and handle this work profitably? Can we offer data-informed pricing options?
§ Do we know and can we contact the decision makers and influencers?
§ Do we know the issuer’s main reason for sending an RFP (e.g., to save on costs, to improve quality, to enhance results)?
§ Has the issuer or prospect already made a decision? Do the decision makers or influencers already favor an incumbent or competitor?
§ What are the main selection factors or criteria? Will cost be a major factor in selecting the winning bid?
2. Do key lawyers and/or firm representatives contact the RFP issuer, decision makers and/or influencers as appropriate before submitting a written response or pitching?
Numerous studies show that the chances of winning work fall exponentially when the respondents do not engage in some form of personal contact with the issuer, decision makers and/or influencers before or while drafting and submitting an RFP response or developing a pitch. Yet the majority of lawyers and firms do not engage in personal pre-contact by initiating a preliminary, introductory, appreciative phone call or sending appropriate emails before responding or pitching. Law firms in the U.K. and Australia have significantly higher RFP win rates than U.S.-based law firms, mainly because they do engage in pre-contact for almost every RFP or pitch opportunity. Listed above are several questions to ask and issues to raise during the pre-contact call or email, or (preferably) during an in-person, non-billable visit. Discussing these and other questions pre-pitch will greatly increase a firm’s chance to win the representation, work, engagement, case or deal.
3. Does your firm use a post-RFP/pitch protocol?
Worldwide, less than half of law firms have and use an established post-RFP and/or post-pitch evaluation process. Yet without such a process, it is impossible to know how best to use your limited time and resources to improve your win rate. Effective post-RFP and post-pitch protocols include a centralized method for contacting the issuer and/or relevant decision makers; a qualified person to make the contact, call or visit; a list of key and common debriefing or after-action questions; and copious notes and tracking of the response. Then, analyzing and using the information to improve.
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About the Author: Julie Savarino is an attorney, rainmaker coach, and one of the world’s most highly recommended “sales” and business development coaches and consultants for lawyers and law firms. If you like this post, check out and "like" Julie’s new Facebook page @therainmakercoach where she posts useful and valuable "sales" and business development tips and content for lawyers, law firm marketers and law firms.