Developing a Compelling Sales Pitch – start with a rigorous process to ascertain the client needs

I’ve probably read hundreds of pitch documents from dozens of law firms and the biggest problem with most of them is that they don’t contain a compelling reason why the prospect should buy the firm’s services.

The first thing I notice is that most pitches start off by telling the client about the law firm and how big and clever they are! This isn’t the best way to start.

A major international law firm instigated a campaign to get its partners out talking to clients about their capabilities. It didn’t work. Each document was virtually identical and nothing was tailored to the client. It was all…. ‘we have this, we do that, we offer the following’!

What the client will warm to is an opening section on something like “our understanding of your needs”. All the facts and figures about your offices, numbers of partners and associates and the type of work you do can come later…..if you need to refer to it at all!

Our strong recommendation is that, before you start writing your document or presentation, draw up a list of the client needs. Get them all down. A flip chart or white board can be helpful for this process. If you do it as a pitch team (and I recommend getting this team together at the outset to plan the messages), you might try using some ‘post it’s’ and getting each person to write a need on each of them. Then cluster them in like groups. Ideally try to find no more than five clusters.

As you do this, bear in mind:

  • The needs of the organisation
  • The needs of the contracting client (eg General Counsel)
  • The needs of any important influencers in the organisation (eg CFO, Projects Director etc)

Again, there are numerous occasions when firms haven’t paid sufficient attention to the different stakeholders:

  • Employment lawyers may win over the in-house lawyer at the client but if the HR director isn’t convinced, you seriously risk not being selected.
  • Or the Real Estate lawyer targeting all their efforts on the in-house lawyers but not the surveyors. This can cause tensions.
  • Or the Finance lawyers building great relationships with the in-house lawyers – if the business heads don’t know the firm from Adam, you risk not being selected!

The reason for choosing no more than five topics is simple – any more than that and messages simply get diluted or lost entirely and presentations can get boring.

Notice I’m also calling them ‘Client needs’ – not ‘Client wants’. The clients will tell you (if you ask) what they want, but they don’t necessarily know what they need. Most clients will have little experience of similar matters. It is your job as their professional advisor to tell them what they need. Firms that do this will gain advantage by being on an inside track.

Once you’ve agreed the client needs, you need to work on your offering. As a short bit of sales theory, successful selling can be described as demonstrating a match between client needs and your offering.

More on features and benefits and the five types of client benefits are available on the blog….see

This entry was posted in Business Development and Selling, Fee Negotiating, Networking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Developing a Compelling Sales Pitch – start with a rigorous process to ascertain the client needs

  1. Pingback: A Three Year Campaign to Win New Clients | Tony Reiss

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