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By Kevin Wheeler
Nearly 20 years ago when I moved across to the legal sector from the accountancy world, one of the biggest shocks I received was the lack of sophistication in law firm pitching to prospective clients.
In the highly competitive world of audit tenders, the big accountancy firms had become masters of the pitch process. They invested huge sums of both time and cash in responding to invitations to tender (ITTs) which could result in audit appointments worth tens of millions over the 20-year life span of the average audit. Extensive scoping meetings with the prospective client, in-depth research into the prospective client’s business and industry, detailed formulation of the firm’s winning proposition, and bespoke, often printed (before the days of cheap colour laser printing), glossy, easy-to-read pitch documents were the norm.
By contrast, the law firms were still producing long, wordy letters which did little beyond listing the firm’s services, providing the CVs (often long and not tailored to the client’s needs) of the lawyers who would be on the client’s team, a list of relevant deals or cases, and a table of hourly rates.
Fast forward to today and little appears to have changed. Analysis by The Lawyer finds in-house counsel slamming the performance of law firms in panel reviews. At a time when corporates are reducing and consolidating the number of places available on their panels and leading in-house counsel are pressing for enhanced services and keener fee deals, law firms are eliciting a litany of complaints including:
For those law firms that want to improve their success rate in panel reviews or pitches/tenders more generally, I would recommend doing the following:
*Originally published in December 2018.
Practice management - Business development & marketing
Pitching for business guidance
Pitching for business - Guidance note
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Kevin Wheeler has been advising professional services firms on all aspects of marketing and business development for more than 30 years. As a consultant he helps firms to manage and grow their key clients as well as to win new ones. As a Meyler Campbell qualified coach he works with partners and those approaching partnership to improve their BD skills.
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