Monday, October 10, 2016

Three Business Development Lessons from UPS

Corporate Counsel recently talked to the General Counsel of UPS to find out how the company hires lawyers (UPS GC: Firms Come to Pitches Surprisingly Ill-Prepared). Their findings offer three valuable lessons in client acquisition and development:
  1. Clients Are Changing It Up: you might think that #48 on the Fortune 500 list would use the same lawyers over and over. After all, there’s tremendous value in the institutional knowledge that comes with decade-long relationships. But that can also lead firms on the list to become complacent, taking clients and work for granted. To combat that, UPS requires all firms, including those already on their panel, to submit RFPs for new work. That gives newcomers a chance to land legal assignments from the company. And it gives traditional firms added incentive to show UPS how much they know about their business. Over and over again.
  2. You’ve Got to Prove Yourself to Get Bet-The-Company Work: “In order for us to feel comfortable with a firm handling a large matter, we have to have some relationship with them on the small matters,” said UPS’ GC, Norman Brothers. More to the point: unless you blow their socks off on the mundane – good work, good results, good price – you’re never going to get a chance to show them how well you can handle the big stuff. If the name of the game is value, then the size of the matter doesn’t, well, matter: you either produce value for UPS or you cost them money. 
  3. Preparation Is Everything: You already know that if you don’t bring your A-game to the pitch, you’re not going to get the work. But “bringing your A-game” isn’t limited to knowing the judge or having handled hundreds of similar lawsuits or worked on the year’s biggest acquisition. According to Brothers, some firms haven’t even read UPS’ annual reports when they walk into their offices. Those firms can’t know the big picture of UPS’ business and legal challenges. And more often than not, they can’t get to Round 2 of the pitch. 
Read the article. It’s full of the insight you need.

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