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Clients love good ideas. And they find them in RFPs. Not every RFP—all it takes is one really good idea to make the entire process worth it for clients. Could this be why clients are issuing RFPs at a record pace?

32% of clients issued RFPs last year, up from 28% 2 years ago—a new record. This is the start of a wave as 70% of these clients plan to issue another RFP in 2020. But it’s not all for naught—clients tell us the benefits they derive from RFPs are not well understood by law firms. Here they are, in order:

  • New ideas

  • Meet law firms other top legal decision makers recommend

  • Separate out the law firms who care more than others

  • Meet new partners they might want use in the future

  • Provide a safe environment to evaluate firms and their attorneys

  • Keep a finger on the pulse of the law firm landscape—see how and if law firms changed

  • Test firms who they think are on the upswing

  • Meet a firm where a lateral moved, without having to endure a sales pitch

  • Improved value for their budget

  • Lower costs on certain matters

Few top legal decision makers run through the time and energy of a law firm RFP process to lower costs. They can meet this goal with less effort. They want something else—something they are not getting. This means they are not getting new ideas from their current law firms—or the new ideas are falling flat.

Clients also search out new ideas because they think they are being taken for granted—their law firms either don’t share or dismiss new ideas. In addition, ½ of these Chief Legal Officers tell BTI no one has ever paid a duty call, made a leadership introductory visit, or helped them transition in.

GCs with less than 5 years in their role also are more prone to test the market. They want to actively confirm they are hearing the latest and greatest ideas—and see the RFP process as the best way to get these ideas efficiently.

How You Beat the System

Brainstorm with Existing Clients

Start a brainstorming session with your clients, especially your largest and most strategic. Anyone who says it takes away from billable time can compare it to the cost of preparing a proposal or maybe losing a client. It’s a cheap and intellectually rewarding strategy—and attorneys walk away with new ideas as well. Make sure clients are getting their new ideas from you and your firm.

Craft an Unsolicited Proposal

You know your client’s need—or you can find it through client feedback. You know how to help. Don’t wait. Develop and submit an unsolicited proposal for a project or scope of work. We recommend you prepare a streamlined document with a statement of problem, solution, and scope—in this order. No need for a stack of statistics on your experience or resumes. You prove your mettle by solving a problem before being asked.

Conduct an Annual Planning Meeting with Clients

Develop a clear agenda and questions. Share your goal before the meeting and plan out what your client needs to get done—not goals—but must-do’s and mission-critical plans. You can download the BTI Guide to Annual Meetings here.

Remember—70% of clients who issued an RFP last year plan another one in 2020. The best strategy to win the RFP is to get the work before clients go out to bid.

We will be discussing the reasons why clients are issuing more RFPs than ever in our nearly sold out annual webinar The BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review on January 15, 2020, at Noon ET.


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