Largest Clients Ramp Up RFPs

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The next RFP is likely to be a big one. RFPs among the largest clients are on the rise. While only 38% of clients plan to issue RFPs through 2019—they are the largest legal spenders. Here’s why this group is moving to RFPs while others silently interview and select their law firms on a less visible basis.

  1. Clients consistently tell BTI they learn one new compelling insight, idea, or suggestion from the process—making the entire, and admittedly, grueling process worth it.

  2. Large clients are experiencing a faster rise in complex matters and increased financial exposure than their smaller spending counterparts.

  3. The number of individuals new to the top legal decision maker role is growing—they want to ensure they are getting the best service and counsel they can.

  4. Clients want law firms who will relish the opportunity to step up to help with the new complexity.

  5. Clients want more consistency from their law firms in terms of client service and levels of aggressiveness—these clients are using law firm pitches as a proxy by asking to meet with partner teams and observing how they do.

  6. Some law firms fall out of favor—often by inaction—RFPs are a politically correct tool to clean house.

  7. Clients always want more from their law firms. When client expectations get ahead of even the high performers, they will start to look around.

Clients plan to issue the most RFPs primarily for litigation, labor, less complex IP and cybersecurity—one of the areas where clients are most eager to learn. The complex work, especially in litigation and M&A, is still awarded with minimal, if any, bidding—and when it is—it’s in quiet and private negotiations with the best performing firms.

Clients Place RFP Winners in the Warm Up Lane

Winning an RFP is the beginning—not the end. Clients add several new firms to their roster and expect to give them medium risk work. Not the big, super complex work just yet. You are now invited to the proving grounds to see if you can you deliver.

But, for existing firms, this is your chance. Firms who get the RFP are always at some degree of risk (unless you wrote the RFP.) Take the RFP process and turn it on its head. Use it to explore goals, assess and manage risk, and treat it like a strategy session, so you can get the highest risk work—and the segment growing fastest.

It’s All in Your Control

You control almost all the reasons clients go to RFP. Here is how you can prevent and/or win the pitch:

  • Be the law firm who delivers the new insights client haven’t heard yet. Remember, this is the number one client benefit of the RFP process. Brainstorm with a group of your partners and ask the partners to brainstorm with clients. This could be the best defense against RFPs.

  • Talk to clients about the changes in the case load. Help clients locate the risks early and often. There are few more powerful tools than talking to clients.

  • Practice, train, and be consistent when you pitch. Clients know only the consistent firms can scale up to solve the big problems.

  • Reread BTI’s Unspoken Criteria Clients Use to Evaluate Your RFP.

We will be discussing clients’ new expectations and needs in our upcoming (and rescheduled) webinar. We will be discussing these issues and much more during our annual webinar BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2019 on January 30, 2019 at noon Eastern Time. Register now as space is filling up fast.

MBR