Posted by: johnocunningham | June 29, 2013

RFP Bidding: Worth the Effort and Expense?

Bob Bratt, COO and Executive Director of U.S. Operations for DLA Piper surprised some audience members at LSSO’s 10th Annual RainDance conference when he suggested that some clients and engagements are simply not worth chasing or even accepting.

Rather, he asserted, a professional service organization should target its prospects after careful study and come up with a sales strategy for bringing them into the fold, while looking at other prospects with a skeptical eye, being wary of unprofitable or low-yield sales efforts.

One of the common pitfalls where marketers and organizations lose their focus, said Bratt, is in responding to the never-ending stream of RFPs (“Requests For Proposal”). “You should choose carefully which RFPs will get your attention because some of them are rigged,” he warned, noting that some RFPs also involve nothing more than commodity work. “If you have done no recent work for the RFP prospect, and you have no close personal connection to the prospect, then you are just fodder for the bidding process,” he concluded, adding that RFP work can distract both marketers and practicing lawyers, who have to assemble massive amounts of information to respond effectively to any RFP.

Bratt’s comments echoed similar suggestions made by Altman Weil’s Charles Maddock in the National Law Journal a few years ago. He reportedly surmised that “most of the RFP wins produce no income whatsoever, let alone personal contact with the firm,” and he pegged the overall success rate for RFP bids at 30 percent or less.

He also noted that law firms spend between $35,000 and $65,000 per RFP answering invitations to bid, taking into account time and effort invested by lawyers and staff.

“There are many things that may be more productive for that time and those resources,” he concluded, and that is the essence of what Bob Bratt told LSSO listeners.



  1. I agree! As a marketing consultant I sometimes have to remind companies that marketing involves more than just trying to sell your services;
    it affects how you comport yourself, run your practice, bid on projects, perform for clients, build relationships and there is much more, including “the clients with whom you choose to work”, how you answer the telephone, even how you design your invoices and envelopes. That the object of marketing is to build and maintain profitable relationships, not merely to get clients.

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