Strategies for Writing Winning Legal Bids and Tenders
Legal, accounting and other professional services tenders can be an exceptional opportunity to drive firm growth and profitability. The professional services market is highly competitive, especially for government tenders which are generally open tender opportunities with a large volumes of firms often competing for a panel of four or five lawyers. Here are four strategies to write winning legal tenders for law firms in New Zealand.
Focus on your expertise and experience
Most legal tenders are for panels where a broad range of practice areas are available such as insurance, commercial and WHS. It’s important to play to your strengths and focus on your expertise and experience in winning tenders. Present your personnel as specialists in each individual area of law, and your practice groups as specialist practice groups. This means resisting the temptation to put forward your firm for areas where you do not have strong experience or expert personnel.
Because putting forward a weak proposal in some practice areas can be detrimental to other aspects of winning your bid and weaken your bid overall. In addition, when responding to questions throughout the tender, you need to consistently reinforce the fact that you are specialists in each area you are submitting for, throughout the tender response. If you have personnel who service clients across multiple areas (for example, within commercial law you may have a Partner that specialises in procurement as well as ICT), you can put them forward for the different individual areas, as long as you take the time to re-write their CVs and experience throughout the tender for each area of law. A generic CV covering their overall experience and presenting them as a generalist will not suffice.
Use evidence from the past to focus on the future
Whether it’s a case study, or any other component of your legal tender, it’s important to back everything up with evidence. Facts, figures and testimonials are all helpful in providing credibility to your bid or proposal. However, you need to go one further and use the evidence to demonstrate how you will add value to the client into the future. Let’s take a question in a tender response asking to you to detail how you managed a large matter and demonstrate your experience in a particular area of law. It’s not enough to simply describe the case and mention the key personnel involved in winning the tender. You need to go further and talk about how your specific expertise and experience were drawn upon in that particular case. You need to talk about any challenges that were overcome as well as the key outcomes of the case. Finally, if you employed any innovative methodologies (for example project managing the matter efficiently over the term of the case), talk about how this will be applied to future cases for the client if you are appointed.
This demonstrates that you are not complacent, and are committed to continuous improvement and have a positive vision for servicing the client should you be appointed.
Develop and think through your key win themes and stick with them
For any legal, accounting or other professional services tenders, it’s important to have consistent messaging throughout the tender response. This especially applies to larger tenders where there may be a number of practice areas in the RFP. It’s important to develop win themes to drive those key messages and ensure they are intertwined throughout the tender response to ensure consistent messaging. For example, let’s say you are an insurance law firm with strong track record servicing the insurance sector and the particular client.
You may have had the same personnel, and a strong record for service delivery as well as innovation. A win that might work in this scenario is that you are a ‘safe pair of hands’. A safe pair of hands to manage claims. A safe pair of hands to deliver a consistently high quality service. A safe pair of hands to meet the client’s geographic needs. A safe pair of hands to continuously improve your service in line with the client’s evolving needs. This is an example of a win theme which can be applied to most if not all parts of the tender and deliver a positive message to the client.
Coordinate your personnel to bring the best out of them
Any legal, accounting or professional services tender will require input from multiple personnel across your firm. It is critical that they are well coordinated, motivated, and challenged. That means you need to designate a project manager to manage the tender process and keep everyone to account. Input needs to be reviewed and challenged. Go back and ask key Partners about what they did that was so special in that specific case? Have they delivered any workshops or value added services? Do they have any other examples or experience that better demonstrate their expertise?
Finally, allocate the appropriate resources to submit a quality tender response and remember, you are tendering to win, not tender for the exercise of tendering.