Slainte! Cheers! St Patrick’s Day brings with it an opportunity for the Irish and Irish-at-heart to engage in joyous festivities and merrymaking. But, it’s also a great time of year for legal marketers to reflect on their bidding process, as Q1 is drawing to a close and everyone’s gearing up for mid-year challenges.We’re lucky enough to work with the best in the bid management world, and to share the love, we wanted to share a few essential bidding process tips:

Know whether you should submit a bid in the first place.

When considering whether or not to respond to an RFP for outside counsel, it’s crucial that you know the opportunity is right for your firm. If there’s even the slightest risk that you are underprepared, the potential damage to your firm’s reputation will far outweigh the potential benefits. This is why capture planning is such an important step in the bidding process. When you have a comprehensive understanding of the business opportunity – as well as wider environmental factors and your firm’s position to deliver – the bids you do submit will have a far higher success rate.

This reminds me of St Patrick’s lesser known (well, fictional) little brother, Seamus, who was a highly successful legal marketing executive and patron saint of corporate law. Instead of using his saintly powers to impress patrons with coin magic at the local tavern, Seamus developed an effective bidding process to secure business from corporate clients. And considering this was all in 5th century Ireland, he was quite the legal marketing trendsetter. Seamus knew that luck isn’t a matter of waiting for successful bids to land in your lap. As he saw it, luck is more of a meeting point between preparation and opportunity. As such, you should always ask yourself not only whether a particular RFP for outside counsel presents a profitable opportunity, but also whether you and your firm are fully prepared to take on the challenge.

Make sure you really understand the prospective client.

Another crucial aspect of a successful bidding process involves doing your research and tailoring your pitch to suit the prospective client. There’s an old Irish saying that a potato is a potato, unless it’s whiskey. In the context of developing a winning bid, it’s important to remember that boilerplate content and templates are a necessary foundation and definitely have their place. But to truly differentiate yourself and prove your worth as outside counsel, your firm needs to demonstrate a deep understanding of the prospective client’s business, industry, and legal environment. And based on this understanding, your bid should be highly personalized and directly appeal to needs of their legal department.

Reputation is key, so always show off your best experience data.

There are few things a legal firm values more than its reputation, as it’s exactly what a prospective client will be judging throughout their vetting process. The prospect will likely have heard of you and have at the very least a basic understanding of your firm’s history and success rate. Mark Herrmann, the Chief Counsel and Global Chief Compliance Officer at Aon, explains this well: “It’s back to relying on reputation. I’ll ask people who’ve worked with you, or maybe your former clients, how you’ve handled their cases. If those folks swear by you, then that’s all the comfort I’m going to get.” And while much of this happens outside of your bidding process, it’s important to make the best impression with what you can control – your pitch content. It’s therefore a balancing act between showing off your best experience data while keeping the prospect at centre stage. Beyond that, building a great reputation means delivering on your promises and maintaining a positive client relationship.

For more tips and tricks from proposal management pros, download our latest eBook and explore your chances of winning a bid when competing with incumbents, and get advice for using RFP's to differentiate your company amidst heavy competition. 


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