May 22 '14
This week we’ve been talking about pitching and tendering for law firms. So we’re sharing with you this blog post by Elephant Creative associate James McLeod, a trained solicitor turned legal procurement consultant on how to develop more client-focused bids…
A law firm recently instructed me to review their bid to be appointed to a bank’s solicitors panel. They asked, “Could you tell us whether our proposal clearly describes who we are and what we do?” I almost didn’t need to read the document to know what the problem would be, because a bid or proposal’s objective is to do neither of these things. That’s what a website or brochure is for. The firm should have asked, “Does this document demonstrate a clear understanding of the client’s needs and set out a compelling proposition for meeting them?” A winning bid or proposal is tailored; it’s client-focused.
This firm is not alone in realising that a brochure-style approach will not fly in a highly competitive marketplace. Many firms are re-assessing their whole approach to tenders, particularly the resources and strategies needed to deliver truly client-focused bids. Law firms working in the public sector are already becoming accustomed to developing tailored bids. Public sector organisations require firms to participate in lengthy procurement exercises involving a range of detailed questions representing their idea of value. Many firms participating in these tenders complain about the huge investment of time and resource needed just to complete the tender document, never mind tailoring it. But whilst these complaints are often well founded (some tenders are badly designed and managed), law firms should be investing similar amounts of time and resource into developing their bids and proposals irrespective of whether the process laid down by the client demands it.
So what is needed to deliver a truly client-focused bid? The first place to start is with the client, demonstrating a thorough understanding of its objectives – both for the service and its wider business – and identifying what it is the client will most value. A simple ‘SWOT’ analysis of the client’s business can be useful for these purposes. The bid should then go on to identify and explain the particular features of the firm’s service that will deliver that value – covering not just the quality of the technical work but also the level of service the client will experience. When setting out features, firms should clearly explain the benefits that each one will deliver to the client, linking them back to the identified goals and objectives. In particular,, they should highlight the transformational elements – i.e. how they will get the client from where it is to where it wants to be. Finally, firms should provide evidence to demonstrate the value they have delivered in the past to the tendering organisation and/or other clients (either operating in the same space or possessing similar business problems), drawing on case studies and testimonials. This final element is crucial to the proposal’s credibility but it’s surprising how often it’s left out.
A former legal services procurement colleague of mine used to frequently express the view that clients are looking for a legal service into which they can “plug-in and play”. Whilst to some extent I agree, I believe what clients are really looking for is a legal service that “plugs-in” to their view of the world and which demonstrates an understanding of what it is they most value. Bids that can speak in these terms will always connect best with clients.
(Post taken from the Consult Legal Blog)