Increasingly, clients looking for professional services rely on Requests for Proposal, or RFPs. For law firms, RFPs are the classic double-edged sword. On the one hand, they represent real, live potential clients. But proposals also chew up enormous amounts of time and effort, and often don’t win the business.

RFP responses are one of our specialties. We work with clients in two ways. First, we help them create or improve their in-house RFP processes in two ways. By evaluating and modifying the internal procedures used to assess and respond to RFPs, we can substantially increase the number of successful outcomes, and decrease the amount of time and effort put into pursuing unwinnable business. Improving the RFP process also always improves the finished product.

Our second area of expertise is helping prepare the RFP response itself for particularly high-stakes opportunities. Frequently, this is done along with consulting on the accompanying presentation. Work can include development of a strategy, coordination of participating attorneys, sourcing and supervising graphic designers, overseeing proofreading and editing, and more. The end result is a striking, effective and strategic document that has a much higher chance of winning the business.

A few of the key principles we adhere to when preparing RFP responses:

Design is incredibly important, as is photography. An RFP response is a marketing document, and needs to be visually appealing, organized, and designed in a way that supports the key message.

Make the document client-centric. It is not about the firm, it’s about the client, and what the client needs. Ideally, you should not mention the firm at all for the first 3 – 5 pages of the document.

Understand the client’s competitive strategy for succeeding in the marketplace, and both acknowledge and observe it in your RFP response.

Writing should be informal, knowledgeable and energetic. Avoid legalese at all costs.

Develop and focus on “win themes” — no more than three key messages you repeatedly express in the document that explain why your firm is the best choice.

Minimize use of attorney biographies. Only include the bios of attorneys physically present at the pitch, or who will be actually handling the business. Unnecessary bios dilute the impact of the response.

We have successfully developed RFP responses for firms across the country, winning millions in business from clients in a broad range of industries including Shell Oil, Maytag, Schlumberger and the Orange County Transportation Authority, among others. We can do the same for you.