Why Law Firms Go Silent During the Procurement Process
Published on Fri, June 10 byNicola Shaver

That’s it – you’ve made the sale. 


Or as good as made it, anyway: you’ve been told you’re in the budget, or in the review process. The firm has your pricing proposal, your terms, a draft contract. You’ve provided all the security documentation they asked for. 


And then, a month goes by. Another month. You hear nothing. Crickets. You email your contact, wait a respectful amount of time, email again – no response. The end of your sales quarter is coming up, and you can’t get anyone to speak to you, at a lead you already told your boss was a sure conversion.


What happened? Why do law firms go silent just when you think you’re on the verge of a sale?


As someone who has just left large law and spent a good deal of time navigating the procurement process, let me give you some insight into what’s happening on the law firm side. Here are five reasons law firms go silent. 


  • They Don’t Have Any Information About What’s Happening


The internal procurement process at some firms is as much of a black box to your internal contacts as it is to you. Even if the spend or investment of a new solution has been tacitly approved, there are many steps to move through before the new solution can be greenlit and a contract signed. In some cases, this is the case even for a pilot or proof of concept. The stakeholders involved in the procurement process don’t all report up to the same decision-maker, and the way they work together (or don’t) varies from firm to firm, as do the many steps that make up the start-to-finish procurement process. Your contact may be holding off on getting back to you until they can figure out where your project sits in that process.


  • There are Five (or Ten) Projects Ahead of Yours


At large organizations in particular, there are many projects happening at once, all in different stages of onboarding and implementation. Your technology solution might solve a clear use case and have solid internal support, but it is almost certainly only one of several – or many – products that your internal contact is shepherding through internal processes. It’s likely that there are a number of other vendors in the queue before you, and your contact is busy responding to them. 


  • They Get 500 Emails a Day 


The high number of simultaneous projects and the intensity of ongoing work within a firm means that legal innovation, operations or KM folk these days are under fire from emails in the same way that many lawyers are. On top of that, especially since Covid, meetings have proliferated and your contact may be sitting for 10 hours a day in back-to-back meetings while emails pile up. Unless there is movement on your project, your check-in is unlikely to be top of their list to action once they get a chance to deal with the back-log. It’s also possible that your email has been lost in that back-log, which is why a polite follow-up after a decent amount of time is warranted (and will often be appreciated).


  • There’s Nothing They Can Do For You


The distributed nature of procurement in legal organizations (and law firms in particular) means that there is no one decision-maker who can push things through. If your project has been approved in the budget, or your solution has been put forward for procurement, it likely means that your contact has completed all the necessary steps over which they have direct control. Once the paperwork has been submitted, your contact loses sight of the various feasibility, resource, and security reviews that need to be conducted before a contract is reviewed. At this stage, there’s little they can do to drive the process or to help you move things along.


  • You’re Being Pushy


The unfortunate truth is that procurement and law firm sales cycles take a long time. That is frustrating not just for you, but for your internal contacts – the reason you have a project in-flight is because they want to work with you, which means they want to see the procurement process completed. But if you are sending emails every few days or even every week, you may lose favor. Your contact will tell you when there’s something to report. A check-in every now and then is fine, but give them some breathing space. 


Regardless of the reason, it’s annoying when a law firm prospect is ghosting you. Is there anything you can do to break through and get a response? Check out the next LTH Vendor Cheatsheet to find out. 

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