In responding to RFPs and RFIs, it is important to keep in mind your backup plan should you not be awarded the engagement. Keeping good records of how the RFP response is handled, the questions asked and the process the client required will be important as you perform the post analysis on your response process, also called a 'post mortem'.
In conducting post RFP reviews with clients, it is important to understand what you are trying to accomplish. The objectives can vary from trying to find additional ways to win work from the client to identifying ways to improve the future win rate. I suggest focusing only on the latter. Having clarity as to what you are trying to find out will guide the particular questions you ask. Regardless, there should be a core set of questions which you ask during every post mortem interview process in order to benchmark performance and build a better response process.
The second consideration is who will conduct the interview. I suggest using third party professionals who can provide an unbiased assessment, bring to bear comparative information and draw out unvarnished feedback. If, however, the accountant, attorneys or marketing department conduct the post mortem interviews, it is important that the interview is conducted as objectively as possible. Avoid defending the firm or trying to explain the firm's responses. It’s much better to learn the perceptions that clients have of the firm than to try to correct misperceptions of the firm’s response- unless they are glaringly blatant and correcting them could change the outcome of the decision.
1. Who won the work and why did they win it?
2. What qualities or strengths stood out about the winning firm?
3. What characteristics or weaknesses did you not like about the firm?
4. Who had influence over the final selection decision?
5. What non-technical services factored into your decision? (non-accounting or non-legal)
6. How did you select the firms which received the RFP?
7. On which key factors did the decision hinge and how would you prioritize the importance of each of these key factors?
8. What was the overall impression of our firm?
9. What was your overall impression of our people at the presentation?
10. What did you find were the strengths of our firm?
11. What did you find were the weaknesses of our firm?
12. What was your impression of the working relationship exhibited by our team in the presentation?
13. Were we accessible for your questions and how well were your questions answered?
14. How did our pricing/fees line up with others?
15. What other advice would you give us to help us improve our responses?
16. Is there anything we should ask that we didn’t ask?
17. How would you rate the quality of our written materials?
18. How would rate the quality of our technology offering?
19. To what extend did Diversity, pro bono, community investment and other programs weigh on your decision?
20. Would you consider us for other service needs you have?
Performing Post Mortems on legal services bidding processes is one of the most effective ways to improve the win rate on RFPs. It also goes a long way toward building a relationship with in house counsel and becoming the strong runner up in the contest, a good position from which to receive future engagements.