Let’s face it, tendering can be a painful process and an ever-present but not always welcome reality for lawyers and in-house business development teams.

‘Traditional’ business development activities – lunches, seminars and even blogs take time to translate into new clients and instructions. However, the beauty of a tender is the opportunity to join a panel or win a specific mandate, securing a new client relationship within a relatively short timeframe.

The ROI is pretty clear.

That said, producing a winning tender response is a challenging, pressured and skilled job, usually requiring significant amounts of time from multiple lawyers and business support teams.

Having worked with lawyers for over 15 years, I have seen many teams pour blood, sweat and non-chargeable hours into tenders that they were just never going to win.

On any normal day when you aren’t in tender frenzy mode, this makes no business sense. But it takes a very strong person to stand up once the submission clock is ticking and ask the killer question:

‘Do we have the experience needed to win?’

In the first in our series of articles, we look at the first golden rule of tendering –  before you do anything else, you must be certain that you can win.  And by win, I don’t mean just meeting the tender criteria.  Compliance is simply not enough.

Bid or no bid

Essentially, a ‘bid/no bid’ or ‘go/no go’ process stops you careering headlong into a tender as soon as the documents appear.  It provides a consistent and measurable process across a firm to dissect the ITT, RfP or whatever format the tender information has come to you in.

It enables you to be objective about whether you can win by applying a series of simple but tight criteria and questions (based on fact not aspiration) to assess whether you have the expertise, knowledge, track record, pricing information and resource to beat your competition.

The same goes for more informal invitations to submit proposals.  ‘We’ve had a request to submit a proposal for X, it needs to be in this Friday,’. Take a minute, and apply your ‘go/no go’ criteria before committing precious resource to an opportunity you may not have a chance of winning in the first place.

Make it best practice across the firm

Lawyers may rally against another process and more forms to complete.  However, embedding a tailored ‘go/no go’ procedure is straightforward and will ensure that the cost and time involved in tendering is directed only at opportunities that you can win.

I would be interested in hearing views from law firms on this, get in touch and let me know what your experiences are.

How we can help

You might be new to tendering, find the process as confusing as completing a tax return or simply not have time to tender.

Our tenders and proposals team are commercial, creative and full of energy. We can help a stretched bid team or be your outsourced bid support and solution at any stage of the bid and proposal process.

We are highly skilled at dissecting work winning opportunities and experienced at working with stakeholders to identify winning strategies and writing persuasive bid, tender and business proposal submissions.

Find out more about our bids and tenders service

About us

MD Communications are experts at boosting the reputation of law firms and suppliers to the legal sector- whether that’s enhancing your legal directory submissions, raising your profile in the media, or improving your social media presence.

Linsay Leslie is head of legal directories and tenders at MD Communications, the international legal PR agency. She is a former lawyer of 10 years, who then spent over five years as head of legal directories and tenders for a UK top-50 commercial law firm.

MD Communications is on Twitter @mdcomms

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletter is full of useful tips and advice for law firms and suppliers to the legal sector who want to raise their profile.

Sign up now