Radio Silence: Three Reasons Why It Happens in BD 
Posted by Carlos on Dec 11, 2012

 

Consider the following situation:

English: "Wilshire Room," company in...

Where is everybody over there?

  • You are out-licensing an innovative asset in a niche therapeutic area
  • It is a first-in-class molecule
  • It has successfully demonstrated efficacy in two international Phase II clinical trials
  • You complete 20 meetings with prospective national, regional, and international partners at a major business development networking conference
  • You return home and start the follow up process…

…and you are met by a complete lack of response from your best leads.

Sound familiar?

After all, you have a desirable asset, and the initial meetings were enthusiastic, with promises of follow-up calls, exchange of confidentiality agreements, etc., etc.

Why are you being met with silence? With a lack of responsiveness?

Where was the enthusiasm that you felt during that 30 minute meeting in the grey numbered cubicle?

In our experience, there are three general reasons why your desirable asset is met with enthusiasm, then silence. In this post, we discuss these three reasons, but there may be others! Please feel free to offer alternatives.

Wrong Audience – This is one reason why so many company executives argue against the use of networking conferences. Namely, that the person you met is simply the wrong person for that meeting.

Now what do we mean by wrong person? It could be that the person on the other side of the table:

  • Lacks the authority to follow up
  • Presented the opportunity to an internal decision maker, who in turn is too busy or disinterested to provide feedback
  • Completely misunderstood the opportunity
  • Is too embarrassed or “busy” to respond (and hence, hoping you will go away)

Moved On – We recently ran into a situation where our key contact on the other side of the table suddenly became unavailable for an extended period of time due to a death in his immediate family. In another case, a key contact went on an extended maternity leave without notifying us. When situations like this happen, it can be weeks to months before a company responds, especially if the person who has moved on has not communicated the situation internally.

Wrong Asset – It’s entirely possible that the asset presented was simply not a fit, but the meeting was held for any number of reasons, such as:

  • The counterpart is looking to boost the number of meetings conducted, thereby justifying their presence at the conference
  • There was an internal change or shift in the company’s licensing strategy which was not communicated in time to the parties at the convention (Yes, this does happen!)
  • Complete misunderstanding between the summary information posted on the partnering web site and the slides presented during the meeting

So what can you do to reduce the amount of BD&L radio silence? Here are a few tips:

1. Pay very close attention to the exact person(s) you are meeting. Where possible, try to schedule a meeting directly with an individual, not a company.

2. Be choosy when deciding which companies you want to meet. Blanket conference coverage will likely result in a lower percentage of quality leads.

3. Keep your presentation very short, and leave a lot of time to ask questions about their internal process. For example, will the person you are speaking with lead the process internally? If not, who is that internal champion? What are the key criteria or questions that can be addressed immediately?

4. In select cases, if the meeting goes very well, you can schedule a follow-up meeting right on the spot. Suggest picking a date 2 weeks after the conference for a follow up. After all, isn’t that what smartphones are for?

5. Send a LinkedIn invitation soon after that initial meeting.

6. Mail a hand-written thank you note, along with a hard (bound) copy of the slides. Trust us. You will likely be the only person mailing a paper copy! For a greater impact, use overnight delivery.

These are but a few techniques we have used to overcome the “radio silence” problem sometimes seen in business development.

What techniques have you used in the past? What has worked for you?

 

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