Making pitches work by Enable

Ideas into practice

 

AS PROVIDERS OF AGILE TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS CONSULTING TO LAW FIRMS ON FOUR CONTINENTS, ENABLE IS AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF DEVELOPING IDEAS AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE: WE DELIVER THE BEST NEW GENERATION TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS TO HELP PEOPLE LIKE YOU WIN NEW BUSINESS FOR YOUR LAW FIRM.

Having worked with many of the world’s leading law firms, we know how important it is to achieve the best outcome for our clients. We therefore understand the challenges facing you in delivering the best outcome for your clients.

Innovation is what drives us to provide technology solutions such as PitchPerfect: a resource for attorneys and law firm leaders who want to develop their practices and gain competitive advantage. But innovation means nothing if it is not reinforced by first rate service and support.

In examining the problems of producing the perfect pitch for clients and potential clients, this guide shows how PitchPerfect can deliver the right solutions that you need to make your marketing and business development team more effective and more efficient.

When helping to deliver business critical projects, we have a proven track record as a trusted partner. From the experience of our existing law firm clients, our passion for client satisfaction and service is self-evident: a distinctly personal approach to project and product implementation which provides bespoke solutions to individual problems.

In pursuit of the perfect pitch

 

BY PROVIDING INNOVATIVE IT SOLUTIONS, THE ENABLE TEAM UNDERSTANDS THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF CREATING HIGH QUALITY PITCH DOCUMENTS. WHAT FOLLOWS IS A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HOW LEADING PRACTITIONERS VIEW THE PROCESS.

The relentless pursuit of the perfect pitch is a continuous quest for every law firm. Any legal marketing professional knows this to be selfevident. For lawyers, as well as for marketing and business development professionals supporting them, success critically resides in their ability to sell themselves, their team, and their firm via a managed flow of well-crafted pitches that stand out from the competition.

So what defines a law firm pitch? In summary, it is any competitive formal opportunity to respond to an invitation to tender, or a proposal request. Pitches are increasingly evaluated by dedicated procurement teams of non-lawyers as much as by general counsel. This includes the ubiquitous panel pitches. Most pitches have three sequential elements: the prepitch process, the pitch document and the client presentation.

According to Richard Grove, Director of Marketing & BD at Allen & Overy (A&O), the key question is: "How the hell do you differentiate yourselves?" Given such intense pressure, what can partners do to address Grove's question and perfect their pitch so that it stands out above the rest?

Alongside partners, firms use specialist pitch teams to work strategically and seamlessly (how often do you read those words?) to achieve the best win rate. Specialists say that pitch volumes – formal and informal, proposals, requests for proposals, invitations to tender for getting on panels and for individual pieces of work – have increased dramatically. According to Adam Soames, head of clients and markets at Hogan Lovells: "They have grown exponentially and continue to grow exponentially."

Pre-pitch process

Once invited to pitch, a firm's response is multi-layered, beginning with the pre-pitch process: getting to know exactly what the client wants and needs, the role of legal and procurement functions and the selection criteria – aka scoping. This is also used to establish which other firms are in the frame and to identify precisely what the work involves. "Scoping can provide the edge against the competition," explains one marketing director. "When done effectively, you can influence the evaluation and uncover information to hone your proposition."
 
Gaius Powell, director of business development at Pinsent Masons, advises: "Have scoping calls as much as you can with the client or target ahead of submitting the document. That gives you a greater feel for the nuances: trying to understand what the client wants to achieve commercially."If it's an existing client, he adds, those discussions can be quite open. "You want a dialogue – not a monologue – and clients want that, too."
 
At A&O, which makes around 9,000 pitches a year firm-wide, "it's what you do before the pitch that matters as opposed to the pitch itself", argues Grove. "Every client will have a preconception of the winner so it's enormously important that the relationship management has taken place. We encourage our pitch teams and lawyers to engage the client in the creation of the pitch."
 
He develops Powell's point: "You should be on the phone to the client and any number of contacts in that client continuously, to the extent that, if you haven't started to irritate them with the number of calls that you've put in, you probably haven't done enough."
 
To manage the pitch process holistically, says Soames, Hogan Lovells has a decision map to assess pitch opportunities, "because you don't necessarily always know the full scope of what's being asked and what's required. The easiest way of increasing your win rate is to go for more pitches that you know you've got a better chance of winning." In summary: ask lots of questions, find out as much as you can, assiduously cultivate relationships, and critically evaluate each opportunity.

Pitch and sell

Traditionally the centrepiece of the process, the pitch document is now widely regarded as a vital stepping stone to the presentation. If your pitch is below standard, you simply won’t make it to the next stage.
 
Along the way, the pitch document has evolved and fragmented into myriad forms. The variety is enormous, says Matthew Fuller, Director of Business Development & Marketing, EMEA at White & Case. "Project pitches tend
to be longer and more complex," he explains. "At the other extreme, it may be a short email with a fee quote. For a capital markets transaction, it's very specific: there is a market price. It will last only a matter of days whereas a project can go on for years."
Length will vary, and is often prescribed by the client, but 10-20 pages are the typical parameters for a standard document. Panel pitches usually allow two to three weeks' response time, but "at the extreme in the finance area", says Fuller, "you'll occasionally get told that they want it by the end of the day."
 
He offers a clear critique: "It's a sales document; all pitches are sales documents. That's the most important thing: we have to show off our wares."His sales mantra – focus on benefits, not features – finds common cause.
 
But Soames disagrees: "I don't see it as a sales document. I see it as a buying document: buying criteria and selection criteria will vary according to the situation." At White & Case and at his previous firms, Herbert Smith Freehills and A&O, Fuller has "noticed that putting in tons of credentials doesn't go down well with clients." The two things clients look at, he suggests, are the executive summary, which should be on one page, and the fee proposal: time needs to be invested on those two elements.
 
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