Gone are the days of content held in silos and aggregated manually. We’ve now entered a new era of pitching, that’s rapidly developed in a world where business is more virtual and cross border.
A cookie-cutter approach to proposals no longer cuts it, perhaps it never did. Leading firms who adopted pitch systems pre-pandemic and are now fine-tuning the process to tap into markets and pivot quickly.
In fact, today top law firms use analytics to guide them towards winning, they know what works, what doesn’t and more importantly how to use data to secure contracts.
They’ve embraced pitching systems that have liberated business development professionals to focus on other elements of the process, such as coaching attorneys in pitch rehearsals or creating language that resonates with the clients. Pitches have evolved to be so much more than just a proposal document.
We believe that keeping up with these developments is key to result-driven innovation, which is why we investigated international trends in the industry. Following the success of our last two reports which looked into the law firm proposal management process in the UK, we wanted to compare that to the North American market.
We collaborated with eleven Chief Marketing Officers from across the Am Law 200 with a combined $6.2bn revenue and more than 8,800 employees, interviewing them to find out both the challenges and opportunities they face as a U.S. headquartered firm throughout their proposal process.
Together they shone a light on the processes top law firms have in place today, with a heavy focus on analytics amongst other processes which guide them skillfully to winning new business.
So what are the universal trends for law firm pitching?
Automation + Centralization = Liberation
A striking finding from the interviews is the wider context in which pitching is now placed. Thanks to the use of centralized pitch document production, BD teams can now dedicate more time to coaching partners on how to win work and understand who they’re pitching to.
‘Hitting the deadline’ is no longer the driving force, today law firms want to humanize the pitch process with BD professionals focusing on tapping into the client language and values they hold.
Virtual centralized teams boost efficiency
The pandemic was the catalyst for a huge cultural change and although we were physically separated, thanks to advancements in virtual working, technology allowed for tasks to be completed across the business no matter where in the world individual teams were.
In fact, law firms discovered that virtual centralized teams actually boost efficiency. As one of the interviewees in the review Brandon Lulis of Dickinson Wright, says: “RFPs are immediately sent to a central team who segment the process, work on documentation and allow attorneys to pitch to writers to work on the language.”
Failing to have these systems in place means that law firms are left chasing their tail and flagging way behind their competitors. As Jon Brewer of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe simply puts it: “the firm that reacts the quickest and resonates is the one that gets the work.”
The scattergun approach is out
After speaking with the CMOs it’s obvious that the scattergun approach is old news. Today’s pitches are far more sophisticated and data-led. They take a lead role in the work of a CMO and in the pitching process itself.
Cynthia Howard, Chief Marketing Officer at Greenspoon Marder LLP is quoted in the review, she says: “Through data analytics one of our attorneys who was under the radar suddenly became the number one viewed attorney on our website. I initially thought it was from recruiters and he must have been planning to leave but it transpired he was actually in the middle of all of the global deals for PPE. Once we realized this we were able to beef up his bio, amp up his site, put materials together for him to make it easier for him to complete these deals, and help him with pitches and proposals. It’s just turned into a great success story.”
A move towards short signposting summaries
There’s been a significant shift towards short signposting summaries, following a push from CMOs for change in the format and nature of documents, the CMOs highlighted how the marketing teams are re-educating partners to achieve this.
In the review, Sadie Baron of Reed Smith suggested that pitch professionals are becoming the ‘storytelling consultants’, with John Brewer from Dickinson Wright agreeing, highlighting a need for law firms to reflect the client’s own words.
How can law firms move forwards with pitching?
As the demands on business development and pitch professionals continue to grow, with time and marketing resources wearing thinner, law firms have to reinvent their processes so that they can ease the burden, increase win rates and improve profitability.
Now isn’t the time to get comfortable with the current pitching process, it’s the time to question it and try to do things differently. The harsh reality is that failing to do so can waste time and lose business.