Writing winning bids and tenders is critical for any law firm looking to retain, grown and explain their client base. Whilst completing and submitting a legal tender is a straight forward process, writing a winning legal tender and being appointed is a challenge all firms face. Here are three strategies to increase your prospects of success.
Play to your strengths and grow the client
It can be tempting when tendering for legal panels with multiple practice areas to submit for as many different practice areas as possible. The thinking behind this is that you will grow the client, and potentially satisfy some of the internal ambitions of your Partners and other personnel. However, it’s important to play to your strengths. That means if you are an insurance specialist with a strong commercial and workplace practice, however, limited experience and personnel in environmental law, it is a great opportunity to grow the client through your commercial and workplace offering, however, you may wish to reconsider putting forward your environmental law capability. It’s important to consider:
- If the bid is being reviewed and you don’t have a compelling environmental law offering, will marking lower in this area effect your overall score and tender outcome?
- Even if the areas are marked and weighted individually? From a review panel perspective, is it beneficial for your bid to leave a positive impression on all members of the evaluation panel.
Growing your client is important and this needs to be reflected in your tender document. You need to take a forward looking approach to your service that is client focused. Let’s use the same example above. One of your key win themes may be your strong track record in providing insurance law services to the client over the past X years. This makes perfect sense, as it is evidence based and builds on your credibility. However, what may make even more sense, is focusing on the future as well as the past, and talking about how you will leverage on your corporate knowledge and relationship with the client to service them in the additional practice for which you are bidding. Talk about how your Partners from the different practice groups have experience working with each other, and the benefits you will bring from a coordinated service offering.
Put the work into your responses to demonstrate where you delivered real value
It’s easy to respond to a legal tender and describe your experience servicing the client, or other similar clients. You may even include case studies and CVs of your personnel. That will generally result in a decent but not exceptional tender submission that may or may not win the contract. In order to submit an exemplary tender you need to put the work into each and every question. This applies to all Partners and personnel working on the bid. Think about where and how you have added value to the case or the client through the provision of legal services. If you’re not an incumbent, think about and talk about how you have added value to similar clients, and demonstrate how the same principles and methodologies will be applied to this client if you are appointed. For example:
- When you are writing case studies or giving examples of experience, don’t just list and describe the experience, but talk about the key outcomes of the case, what personnel were involved, and if and how you saved the client money either by settling early or winning the case. For a large complex case, you could talk about how you managed documentation (using technology if applicable) to realise efficiencies and minimise client fees.
- When you are developing the CVs for your personnel, take the time to tailor the CVs to the individual opportunity and talk about the proposed role each person will play in servicing the client. For example, for your relationship / client account managers, it’s important to talk about your experience in managing client relationships and your internal resources as opposed to only your legal sector experience and expertise.
Don’t woffle, be concise, and reinforce everything with evidence
It’s important not to bore the reader, so a concise response is generally best. Writing concisely doesn’t mean keeping your response short. There’s nothing wrong with long, detailed responses if the writing is concise and detailed responses full of evidence are generally considered best. This is also applicable when responding to non-legal related questions in the tender. Let’s take talking about your commitment to sustainability and the environment as an example. Any firm can talk about emissions targets and switching computers to sleep mode at night to save electricity. What you need is evidence to back it up. For example:
- If you are partnering with an environmental organisation or charity, attach a letter from that organisation talking about your partnership and commitment.
- Talk about what you are doing around your office in terms of battery disposal and other initiatives, and take pictures to include as evidence of these practices in progress.
- Talk about how your values are aligned with your prospective client’s values. That means, research their values (especially if they are a Government department) and demonstrate that you have reviewed them and have developed your own sustainability plan and how it aligns with the client’s plan.
With legal bids and tenders most commonly being marked against a weighted criteria, putting the effort and thinking into responding to RFPs in a comprehensive manner can deliver real growth for your firm.