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In a competitive bid, a creative incumbent worries that the client may think: “Why have you waited?”

Your law department has used a firm satisfactorily for years, but nevertheless seeks bids from it and other law firms to handle certain matters. The incumbent firm comes back to you with all kinds of new ideas and potential concessions or advantages. How do you respond?

Some inside lawyers might bluster and snap back: “Why didn’t you propose these ideas before? For all these years were you ripping us off? Were you complacent and feeling entitled?”

Wiser heads empathize and understand that not many service providers volunteer to reduce their fees or profit and that competitive juices fire up the imagination. If they were honest with themselves, those wise heads might look in the mirror and ask “Why didn’t I think of these improvements and request the firm to oblige?” If you invite an incumbent to propose, appreciate and welcome that the firm has to offer something new.