Our head of directories, bids and awards Linsay Leslie outlines top tips and practical advice to help your bid process really take off in 2021.
As downward pressure on client budgets and widespread market disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues, law firms are yet again having to devise new and innovative ways of supporting their clients through increasingly complex and competitive RFP processes.
So, how can law firms rise to that challenge by breaking some entrenched habits that can cause bottlenecks and stifle creativity during the four key stages of the RFP process?
Bid decisions should be business decisions
Qualification conversations can be tricky to navigate, even with a full suite of best practice tools and checklists. However, these conversations should be seen not just as internal ‘red tape’ or a tick-box exercise, but as real opportunities to take a step back, reassess the value of your offering and implement real change where needed for the benefit of all parties.
Asking the key question at qualification stage: ‘is this client/opportunity aligned with the firm’s wider strategic business objectives?’ refocuses the ‘tone’ of a conversation from practice area viewpoint to strategic business decision – every other important consideration can naturally flow from there. Moreover, if the decision is to bid and you can frame the opportunity in this way for your internal stakeholders, then it is more likely to receive the support, insight and enthusiasm needed to turn an average RFP response into an exceptional one.
Know your client – all year round
Your level of client knowledge can have a significant impact on your ability to effectively tailor your response.
RFPs often limit how, or even if, you are permitted to engage with the client throughout the RFP process. Even where clarification questions are factored into the timeline, responses can be vague at best.
Make sure that you’re building in time for regular client conversations throughout the year on projects in the pipeline that may involve going out to tender for new workstreams. This will avoid last minute research and help you to anticipate and interpret some of the more searching or unexpected questions that can crop up in RFPs. Better still, if it’s a workstream that sits squarely within your firm’s remit, you may succeed in diverting an RFP process altogether.
Kicking it off the right way
It’s widely accepted that a kick-off meeting is the best forum to at least agree a win strategy, your team, and roles and responsibilities. Nonetheless, team members often leave a kick-off meeting without a clear idea about why they should be spending their time on the bid, or the value of engaging with the process. Ensuring the client team feels heard and understands the meaning and purpose of their involvement will make the entire experience more efficient and enjoyable for everyone involved.
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