How to retain your client at tender

How to retain your client at tender

One minute you’re handling the needs of a longstanding and in your eyes loyal and satisfied client – the next, the same client has requested that your firm retender for its legal work in competition with a handful of your competitors. This nightmare scenario is becoming more common for law firm partners as clients look to get a better deal from their legal advisers in an increasingly competitive legal market. So, what should you do when faced with such a situation?

Don’t panic

As the incumbent lawyers, and if your firm has not made an enormous foul-up of things, your knowledge of the client’s organisation, business, and legal needs ought to put you ahead of the competition. So, don’t panic but put yourself in the client’s shoes and seek to understand: (a) why they have decided to tender their legal services; (b) what they are seeking from their law firm(s) going forward; and (c) ask yourself how your firm can meet these needs.

Why has the client gone to tender?

In order to prepare an effective strategy to defend your firm’s position as the client’s legal adviser, the first thing to do is to find out why the client has decided to put their legal work out to tender. There are many reasons for such a move and the most common include the following:

  • The arrival of a new decision-maker directly responsible for appointing legal advisers, eg a new GC. This individual will usually have preferred advisers that they have worked with in the past and now they are looking to bring these into their new organisation. Holding a tender allows the decision-maker to construct a ‘transparent’ process to make this happen.
  • Poor performance by your firm may have led the client to review its options for using law firms going forward.
  • A ‘market testing’ exercise is being run by the client, perhaps by Procurement, to see if the best value is being obtained for legal services. In the current environment, such exercises are more common as increasingly influential Procurement departments flex their muscles.
  • Many clients are actively looking to reduce the number of law firms used by their organisation and retendering the services is often seen as the best way

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About the author:

Kevin Wheeler has been advising professional services firms on all aspects of marketing and business development for nearly 30 years. As a consultant he helps firms to manage and grow their key clients as well as to win new ones. As a certified coach with WABC he works with partners and those approaching partnership to improve their BD skills.