Law firm win rates started dropping just as clients revved up their RFPS.
Clients all but shut down their RFPS from March through late April in 2020, and then clients brought them back with a vengeance. Clients went into overdrive on requesting RFPs about 4 weeks into the pandemic. And, they haven’t looked back.
BTI’s recent survey of more than 300 legal marketers shows the typical law firm is winning 26% of their responses to RFPs since May 2020. This is down from 32% before the pandemic.
Business is up, so how can win rates be down?
- Law firms respond to too many RFPs. Few firms screen RFPs. Even fewer enforce the screen. They always find a reason to jump in and prepare a proposal.
- Zoom pitching success requires a new kind of engagement.
- Clients are issuing more RFPs — tilting the statistics against any one firm.
- The firms in the best position are helping their clients write the RFP — getting a lock on the win.
- Talking (as in voice to voice) is rare. Only 21% of clients report receiving phone calls — it’s almost impossible to win without voice contact before your pitch.
- The firms with the biggest revenue gains are winning work before an RFP ever goes out.
- The market is experiencing the largest influx of new GCs ever. 30% have been in their current roles for 2 years or less, which is the prime time for evaluating and shaking up their law firm panels.
The win rate at a large (non-law) professional services firm is 51%. These organizations bring the following strategies, tactics, and processes:
- Don’t respond to any RFP you first learn about through email. If you don’t have advance notice, you won’t win.
- Use your best presenters. Zoom pitching can demand different skills than in-person pitching, this includes presentation skills and industry knowledge.
- Use professional virtual backgrounds — cat filters aside — potential clients prefer the authority of your team’s uniform virtual backgrounds.
- Always ask questions before you respond. Always — even if the RFP says don’t. Unless it’s a government procurement there are no rules. Clients wonder how you can respond without asking questions. Ask by phone or Zoom. (see item 5 above)
- Practice your pitch. Use a mock audience. You will improve your performance by at least 25%.
- Did I mention don’t respond to every RFP coming in the door? Pick, choose, and forget all the RFPs you learn about after the solicitation.
This surge in RFPs is likely to continue as top legal officers increase their retirement rates and others change jobs. Law firms who screen out certain RFPs boost their yield and generate more dollars by developing response criteria. And generating more revenue beats responding to more RFPS — and will bring law firms above the 51%-win rate enjoyed by other professional services firms.
Be well. Be safe. Win more.
The Mad Clientist