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RFP: The Evaluation | #1

Win The Big One: A Five-Part Series

Play To Win Or Pass

It’s a maxim that not all business opportunities are created equal. Distinguishing good opportunities from bad is essential. Making this distinction is particularly vexing for Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for legal services. Why? Because in a law firm evaluating an RFP for legal services is fraught with competing interests and approaches — just ask a group of law firm marketing and business development professionals. Some will tell you their firms have an informal evaluation process, others will share they have little more than a “let’s just do it” approach. But whatever the existing approach is the ultimate question is the same — can our firm win the business? You can’t answer that question with certainty. However, you can “estimate” the chance to win and, even more importantly, if the win is good business.

Objectivity Test

An approach that provides rigor and constancy to the evaluation process is a two-step analysis we call the “objectivity test.” This approach requires that a set of objective criteria be applied to every RFP in deciding whether to respond.

Step 1. This step quickly identifies an RFP that raises red flags and needs to be a “no-go.” 

>  Is there a conflict? yes= no/go
>  Will a win put an existing client relationship at risk? yes= no/go
>  Is the RFP issued by a client whom the firm has a current and serious dispute (lawsuit, etc.)? yes= no/go
>  Will the pricing parameters in the RFP make the work unprofitable? yes= no/go
>  Does the firm lack the capabilities and resources to do the work? yes= no/go

Step 2. An RFP that clears step 1 would then be evaluated using a weighted scoring system incorporating a constant set of positive and negative factors.

Key positive scoring factors include:

>  RFP is from an existing client in good standing
>  Client revenue (weight assigned increases at set revenue levels)
>  RFP is from a company whom the law firm is courting
>  RFP is from a company that has been referred by an existing client or strategic partner of the law firm
>  RFP meets the law firm’s strategic objectives
>  The law firm has the opportunity to discuss the RFP with the company

Key negative scoring factors include:

>  No relationship with the company who issued the RFP
>  RFP sent via a mass mailing or other shotgun approach
>  Little or no knowledge of competitive landscape
>  No opportunity to speak to the company about the RFP
>  Incumbent has an excellent relationship with the company

For those law firms who have an RFP evaluation process but no objectivity test, the test is an important addition. For those law firms who want to move from a “just do it” approach to an evaluation model, the objectivity test is a critical component of the model. In both cases, law firms can increase the percentage of RFP wins and turn the wins into robust organic and profitable growth with a process that begins with a consistent and objective review process. The change in approach will likely meet with resistance, most likely lots of resistance, but the change is imperative to stop the wasting of time of billing and non-billing professionals.


A Five-Part Series

# 1. Evaluation—Play To Win Or Pass

# 2. Proposal—A Look @ The Overlooked
# 3. Value Differentiators—The Secret Sauce
# 4. Design Elements—More Than Words Can Say

# 5. In-Person Interview—Bring Your A-Game

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