Lawyers work for years building relationships with decision-makers, entertaining them at sporting events and cocktail parties, sending an email when they see industry news that impacts them and even providing solid legal work on an introductory matter. Then they get the call to come in and pitch for the big one. Gulp.
Some lawyers may think, “I know them. I’ve got this.” Respectfully, I would disagree. It is imperative to cover all angles and make a plan with your team before you face the general counsel of potential Best Client Ever. Don’t give away this hard-earned opportunity to a competitor by being unprepared.
Here are a few ways you can help your attorneys avoid this misstep:
Conduct Competitive Intelligence
The importance of conducting competitive intelligence research before meeting with potential clients and strategic targets cannot be overstated. Your lawyers may emphatically claim that they have known their contact forever and understand their business. But did they know that the company just opened an international office and could be facing some complex tax issues? Did they know that their contact has a new boss from the financial services industry and is thus very attuned to regulations? Compiling a full research package that includes background information on the attendees, the company and any recent news is crucial to ensuring your team is as prepared as possible for their meeting.
Identify the Key Players
There’s no “I” in team, and that includes the pitch team. Based on your competitive intelligence research, you are now familiar with the decision-makers who will be in the room and have identified the potential legal issues they could face. Now it’s time to determine who will participate in the pitch meeting. A good rule of thumb is to not have more firm attorneys than in-house counsel. From there, align team members with the areas of most importance to the potential client (i.e. what they’ve asked you to present plus any issues you’ve identified as areas of potential risk). Show value by connecting the dots on who is a rock star in that practice area and, particularly, who presents well. Note that while diversity is more important now than ever, all attendees must have a role to play in the pitch and any resulting work.
Set the Strategy
Once the key players have been identified, get them together for a strategy discussion. The agenda should include an overview of the relationship history, how this opportunity developed and what the expectations are for the pitch meeting. These strategy discussions lend themselves to ‘aha’ moments – ones in which you may identify additional areas of service, connections and/or significant/relevant experience. This leads to setting the strategy and goals for the pitch meeting. Identify specific assignments on both the attorney and staff side. Plan your deliverables, which typically include relevant experience and subsequent mock-up of materials and presentations.
As they say, practice makes perfect, so why would you go into a potential revenue-generating meeting without a run-through? Following the strategy session, your team should have a loose agenda for the pitch meeting. The practice session will get everyone comfortable with the flow of the pitch. Identify who will start things off, to whom the mic will be passed next, and who will speak to matters X, Y and Z. Practicing ensures a smooth hand-off during the actual pitch meeting. If the team is using A/V equipment, test it now (and make sure you’ve shared which equipment and access you will need with the host location). Run through the presentation multiple times, incorporating feedback from all team members and the marketing team.
You have the research, a plan and a rock star team, and you have practiced ‘til it’s perfect. Now, it’s time to nail the pitch meeting. Hand over deliverables in a timely fashion, and encourage your team to get there early, take deep breaths and smile. Preparation breeds confidence. The general counsel will notice – and hopefully become the Best Client Ever.
By Rebecca Edwards, Marketing and Business Development Manager, Williams Mullen, for the Third Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter