Attorneys that pitch together win together.
Unfortunately, this simple fact is too often missed in law firms. Instead pitch teams are formed ad hoc depending upon the client, work load, relationship history, other work being done and a host of other, often more subtle considerations. However, the traditional way in which teams are formed in law firms for client presentations is highly ineffective. Team members often have no defined role and important aspects of the firm’s capabilities and resources are left under-represented on the team. Sometimes, team members barely have time to get to know one another before they are thrust into a client presentation in which they have to show camaraderie, team work and work style familiarity. No one is being fooled.
A better way is to designate small group pitch teams who consistently pitch and present to clients together. These are core pitch teams representing two or three essential skill sets that need to be present in every pitch group. Additional team members vary and change depending upon the client, the practices being pitched and other circumstances. But the core group should remain together over time.
Presentation teams should have specific ‘players’ or roles in each group. First, there needs to be a leader of the group whose responsibility it is to facilitate the discussion with the client. This person should not have any responsibility to present legal capabilities. Instead, they monitor the discussion, keep track of time, ensure questions are answered, interject with client intelligence, re-direct answers, conduct the housekeeping of the meeting and generally guide the presentation of the firm’s capabilities. This person is also the lead sales person who manages the conversation toward the identification and meeting of client needs.
The second role is the person schooled in the non-legal capabilities of the firm. This is the person who has a grasp on the technology, diversity stats, pro bono work, value added services, client mix, alternative fee arrangements, etc. in the firm. Typically this is the marketing person or someone who consistently works with the various RFPs or presentations and has knowledge of the various resources, offers and non-legal capabilities in the firm. These two individuals should be observing the flow and development of the conversation, taking notes and using the experience to train others and improve results. Every presentation should have a post review.
The third role is the subject matter expert. There may be several of these depending upon the number of practice areas under consideration. These attorneys come prepared with the cases, clients, clout and capabilities of their practice group, just as they would normally.
The Benefits of Core Pitch Teams
The benefits of consistent core pitch team roles are numerous but primarily revolve around the consistency in observation of the process and the knowledge gained from frequent attendance at client presentations. Core pitch teams ensure the full capabilities of the firm, both legal and non-legal, are represented and that answers to questions regarding legal capabilities are augmented by the technology, value added, alternative fee arrangements and other experience in the firm, whether it is from within or outside the presented practices.
Core pitch teams can double the success rate of presentations simply by improving over time the quality and consistency of the presentations. Without these teams, the frequency of actual pitch experience is simply too low among most attorneys for them to gain the deep learning necessary to effectively manage presentations. In other industries (advertising, marketing firms, sophisticated sales services, etc.) stable core teams are the norm. Law firms would be well advised to adopt this practice and get serious about winning RFPs.