Invitation to tender: 10 crucial questions before you pitch

Invitation to tender: 10 crucial questions before you pitch

In today’s highly competitive legal markets, few big mandates are won without having to go through a competitive tender process. Large panel reviews grab the headlines in the legal press on a weekly basis. For those law firms which miss out in these tenders, the wasted time and negative impact on partner and staff morale can be considerable.

In an ideal world, we would all hope to be able to avoid the need to tender for work, and where you have a good relationship with a client, the loyalty that this engenders may save you from having to do so. But on many occasions, you will be asked to pitch. So, what can you do to maximise your chances of success?

Before accepting an ITT, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the work fit with our strategy?

The purpose of a business strategy is to map out how a firm aims to achieve its desired position in the market. If your objective is to be a leading player in the media sector centred on London, why would you want to accept an ITT to provide legal services to a widget manufacturer based in the Midlands? Any activity which diverts resources from your chosen strategy will reduce your chances of achieving your firm’s goals. So, if the work does not fit, decline the opportunity.

  1. Does our firm have the resources and expertise to do the work?

The main reason firms lose tenders is usually because some other firm has better expertise and/or more resources in the right places to do the work. Be honest with yourself about the capabilities which your lawyers possess. If the other firms you are up against can field a handful of lawyers, all ranked in the first tier in the legal directories, and all that your firm has is one lawyer who dabbled in the area some years ago, you are going to lose the pitch.

  1. Who else has been asked to pitch?

Usually not something that clients are prepared to divulge, but if you can find out you can make a realistic assessment of your chances of success knowing the other firms’ capabilities. If you are on a long list of firms invited, “chosen from the legal directories”, ask yourself what your chances are.

  1. Are there any conflict

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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.