At a recent meeting with a prospective client, I gave a presentation in which I could see that the first few ‘about us’ slides were causing my prospect to zone out. In response, I breezed through them and got to the latter part of the presentation which would be more engaging, covering a case study and a review of their marketing activities. How often do presenters miss these cues and continue with an ineffective life science capabilities presentation which does not engage potential customers? I think we all know the answer: often. Here are 5 “anti-capabilities” ideas for your next business development meeting which will help you to be successful with more life science opportunities.
- Web Tour. Your business prospects have likely checked out your company’s website and your LinkedIn, etc. profiles, why bore them by repeating the information in a presentation? Instead, you can begin with an interactive presentation highlighting areas of the website relevant to them, and your and your colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles. Before starting, take the opportunity to ask them whether they had a chance to look at your website and if there are areas they’re interested in learning more about. You could also point out websites of your clients at this time too. Be sure to arrange for wireless access (use ‘mifi’ on your cell phone if needed) and make a list of links you’ll need to visit for easy access.
- Case Study. A great way to highlight your capabilities without putting your audience to sleep is to make it more tangible for them by describing work you did for a client. Of course, talk in generalizations to protect the privacy of your clients. Case studies are fairly common in the industry so we won’t get into too many details as you can find plenty of examples. It’s surprising how many companies don’t go through the trouble to create them when they can be very powerful. The best way to get permission to write a case study is to ask early on in the collaboration, and to make your client look good in the writeup.
- Consultation. Your prospective clients are trying to judge how well you know your work and how it will be to work with you. Why not give them a short consultation on the problem they are trying to solve? A few questions before the meeting, or a standard list of questions to ask, can go a long way in being able to help you give them some advice the next steps they should take. If the information is sensitive, as it often is in biotech companies, take the initiative in getting a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) in place, and make it 2-way if your information is sensitive as well.
- Webinar. We are big fans of webinars as an effective way to generate leads and gain exposure. A benefit to building a collection of webinars is that they could be tailored to the prospective customer. If your coworker in R&D has already prepared a webinar on a topic, how much more work would it be for you or them to tailor ~30% of it for a good prospect? For example, if you provide kinase screening services, you could develop a webinar about the latest trends in kinase drug discovery based on publications and your company’s experience. The beauty of this plan is that once a webinar is developed, others in the organization can watch it and use it as a template for their own, in-person meeting. You’ll also draw a larger crowd by offering more valuable content, and make more connections which will increase your chances of getting business with the account.
- Brainstorm. Sometimes prospects know they have a problem but don’t know how to fix it, and they’re reaching out for guidance. You can show them your expertise and help them think about the next steps in a project with you by offering to lead a brainstorming session. Invite a few of your team and suggest that they have at least three people from their company in attendance. There are tons of resources on the web to show you how to lead a brainstorming session, and again this is another way to connect with more people at the company and to provide value. You’ll likely come up with a few ideas to work together on, and you may also learn about other issues they have now or in the future.
These five business meeting tactics may be more effective if combined, for example starting with a web tour, following with a case study, and ending with a consultation. It should be noted that these ideas may require more preparation, but isn’t a few more hours worth it to close the deal? Make sure to ask questions and follow cues to determine whether the prospect is really interested in your products, both in preparing for the meeting and if you are asked for a quote. With these types of meetings, you’ll get to know them better than if you gave a traditional capabilities presentation, so hopefully it will be clear. By creating a memorable, engaging first meeting, you’re more likely to develop a lasting relationship with both the company and the meeting participants.