Smart Steps to Make Your Proposal OUTSHINE the Rest


[author: ]

Proposal WritingWin them over with a Brilliant Proposal

All of us know that getting new business isn't easy. It takes smart marketing, diligent networking, and, yes, more than a few perfect proposals. Of course, pitching and proposing to new and existing clients takes a certain knack. Sometimes lawyers will overwhelm their prospects with material touting why their firms are the best. The reality is this isn't the best way to pitch.

Perfect pitching and proposal writing take active listening and simply showing the client why your firm is able to meet his or her needs.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it is if you're familiar with the following basic practices of writing a perfect proposal.

First, you have to understand the prospect and what he or she wants. Selling work is all about matching the client’s needs with your solutions – and you can’t sell very well without understanding the client’s needs.

Ask your marketing department to get involved. The professionals there can help with basic research, including finding corporate Websites, annual reports and financial documents, news articles, litigation and deal histories.

Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call the prospect yourself. Listen closely to what he or she has to say. You should get insight into his or her situation and needs, and how the decision will be made to hire counsel. All of this is valuable information you MUST find out before writing a winning pitch or proposal!

Second, understand your firm. Make sure you know the history your firm has with the prospect, including any prior work, who did the work, who at the firm knows who at the company, etc. Knowing this information will help you gather even more information about the prospect, and help you assess business opportunities.

Third, target your approach. Here's when you DON'T want to bog the prospect down with heavy marketing information and dozens of lawyer bios. Target your proposal based on all the information you’ve gathered from your research and conversations with the prospect. Remember: The proposal isn’t about you, it’s about the client – how the client’s problems will be solved and how the client's budget will be met. You also need to show that you not only understand the client's need, but that you’re qualified and capable of doing the work! Try listing the results the client can expect and make the case for why you're different (if not better) than the competition. If you must include lawyer bios, be sure they are targeted to the points listed higher in the proposal.

Finally, follow up! If a meeting is requested by the client, go prepared to talk about your proposal and to answer any questions. Also, be prepared to listen! You should spend far more time listening and asking questions than talking about you or the firm. If your pitch or proposal is rejected, ask for a brief follow-up call to review how your proposal was received.

Successful rainmakers put tremendous thought and preparation into the proposal process. Don't burden yourself and your business by letting little details fall by the wayside. Take the time to listen to your prospects' needs. If you do, chances are you'll close more deals and build better client relationships than you've ever had in your career.

Adapted from article A Brief Primer on Pitches and Proposals for New Partners by Jim Austin.


Written by:
less on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.