How to pitch your LawTech product to corporates: Targeting in-house

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Paul Hogg, Legal Relationship Manager at Barclays, on what strategies LawTech startups should employ when targeting in-house work and what corporates want to see from them.

Understand the problem your product is trying to solve

Being able to clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve for the firm — we see this gap with startups and we see it with law firms that are producing their own technologies. They don't have a true grasp of what the actual problem is from the client’s perspective or from the in-house perspective. That means we have a product that's coming to the table that addresses 30% to 40% of the issues or challenges that we face. Had they engaged earlier and used some insights from the in-house perspective earlier in their development phase it would have made a much more rounded product to present.

Have a product that is flexible

An alternative is to have a product that is flexible. At Barclays we’ve been working with a startup that pitched a product that was built with another in-house team. They were clear, however, that it was a skeleton that could be customised for Barclays. We have spent 18 months customising this product. It was a modular platform that allowed us to make the changes we wanted. Now we have been able to build a product that solves 99% of our problems in this specific area.

Know your audience

Who are you pitching to? Are you pitching to the decision-makers? Are you trying to sell the product and get adoption from an in-house team or are you pitching for input? Do you just want guidance and instruction from our lawyers to help structure and further develop your product? Be very clear on what you want and have the right people in the room. Startups will end up pitching to five or six different teams within corporates who may all say that the product’s great, but don’t hold the purse strings or know what has to happen from an onboarding perspective, or have visibility of the firm’s tech stack and what the strategy is around it. Or, they are involved with the internal IT teams that have their own programme of work that is designed two or three years in advance. A lot of in-house teams are trying to reduce their tech stack and the number of applications that they use. So it’s got to be a standout product and have support from the right people.

Be clear on the key efficiency gains you will create

Does this piece of technology reduce manual turns of a document for the firm, for example, which is time-saving and cost-saving? Will it strengthen and improve relationships between law firms and in-house teams? Will it mean that a lot of the admin work can be picked up by the platform, allowing lawyers in-house to focus on more strategic activities? Be clear on the key efficiency gains that your product has and how they benefit the team that you're pitching to.

Bring some personality to your pitch

This is a real bugbear of mine. There is nothing worse than a flat pitch. You could have the best product in the world, but if you can't sell it with a bit of personality, you’re never going to get the engagement of the people around the table. You need to get people's attention and once you've got their attention the product should ultimately speak for itself. Give real-life examples that the audience can relate to.

Be accurate and honest

Lawyers are used to being A-star students and they're trained to be meticulous on accuracy. If you've got an efficiency or an accuracy rate of 80% it won’t blow them away. More likely they will be thinking that extra 20% is what they will have to pick up themselves. Ideally in-house teams want 90-95% and above accuracy rates. Even then you will be asked what are you doing to enhance the product as a phase two or phase three to target the remaining 10%. Be honest and don't be afraid to outline the challenges that you have in your product as long as you have plans to address them in the next phases of the build.

Don't underestimate the onboarding process

We have experienced this many times. Contracting with an in-house team or an institution or a corporate is challenging. There is not a quick way around it. It will go through multiple turns. There will be back and forth on the finest detail. If it's a product that you're hoping an in-house team takes on board to leverage with their own client base, you're going to have to go through the onboarding process not only with Barclays, for example, but with all those interested client firms and each one is slightly different. 

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