Avoiding RFPs for Suckers

Only 23.3% of corporations issue RFPs, and I advise all my law firm clients to be skeptical of them.  An RFP is an invitation to put your head into a noose and go through the client's procurement system.  Why go to RFP Hell?

Nevertheless, many law firms cannot resist bidding on possible new business, even though they may be rigged or be fishing expeditions.  Here's how to avoid RFPs for suckers.

  • The company won't reveal its legal budget.  An example is the recent RFP from a startup telecom firm near Washington, D.C., that was losing money hand over fist. The company declined to reveal its budget for legal work or the firms it used previously. "They were just out kicking tires and we passed on it," says Stephen Barrett, chief marketing officer for Philadelphia's 450-lawyer Drinker Biddle & Reath.
  • The RFP is online.  Avoid these like the plague, because they are a type of reverse auction, where bidders keep going lower. General Electric has been noted for its online auctions. Every time there is a bid, the auction remains open another 20 or 15 minutes. "You have to prepare the law firm for blood running down the hallways," Barrett says.
  • The company won't answer any questions, such as what they want to see in the bid; information about the company's business, finances and trends affecting it; who else is bidding; who will decide the winner and when that will happen.  If you ask and the client isn't forthcoming, experts say, the RFP is probably wired and you're just window dressing.

For more on this topic, read Terry Carter's article "RFPS Won't R.I.P." reprinted on the LawMarketing Portal at www.LawMarketing.com.

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