Life Science professionals understand that hiring a Life Science Supplier is a time-consuming process. Compared to the typical tasks required in a day, finding the right partner is equivalent to the Decathlon event in the Olympics.
Let’s Take a Look.
Decathlon Event for Life Science Professionals – Finding the Right Supplier
100 m Race – You discover an organizational need and must hire an outside vendor, but you don’t have the budget. It is an all-out sprint to find the extra money, usually during June or September LE (Latest Estimate). If you know the tricks, this is a straightforward process.
400 m Race – It’s time to work with procurement and gather the appropriate information to include in the RFP (Request for Proposal).
1500 m Race – This is the long one, especially if you don’t know which Life Science suppliers you want to include in the RFP. It can take up to 4 months for procurement to find promising supplier partners to include.
110 m Hurdles – At least two days of supplier pitches.
Long Jump – Days to weeks of back and forth between the pitch review team, suppliers, and procurement.
High Jump – You select and notify the new supplier. What a great feeling!
Shot Put – Suppliers provide their first draft of the MSA (Master Service Agreement).
Discus Throw – The hiring company’s legal team takes a long time to review it, only to throw that MSA right back to the supplier with revisions.
Javelin Throw – After MANY revisions, you agree on the details of the MSA.
Pole Vault – Either you had to fight for the company you hired, or they were so good it was a no-brainer. The Life Science supplier you hired has now become your pole and most important partner. Fingers crossed that they are strong and flexible enough to raise you safely over the bar to a safe landing.
How Can Life Science Suppliers Improve the Chance of a Successful Partnership?
Before the Partnership
Reach out to the right person.
Unfortunately, too many salespeople reach out to the head of a department, which is a mistake, especially in a large organization. Instead, consider reaching out to the lead contact with whom you want to work. Department heads usually let their teams determine who they hire. If you give the lead contact the initial feeling that you will go over their head, they will remember and not in a good way.
It’s important to remember that new managers may have the authority to make a hiring decision but lack experience. When you reach out to them directly, you allow them to shine by introducing you to the organization. It will enable them to show leadership in their department, not to mention they receive fewer emails from suppliers trying to get meetings.
You have a better chance of getting noticed.
During your pitch, don’t forget to let the client know that you want to make their job easier. They have departments expecting communication updates about the status of your project. Progress updates may include communication to five-person departments or much more extensive, including a sales force of 1000.
Crafting communication one-pagers is stressful. You want to include the correct information, but not too much, and make it easy to understand.
However, offering to create these for your client is a no-brainer. You give them a template, and they can make minor changes to customize it to their voice. As a result, communication one-pagers are a tiny yet powerful offer to your client and a big stress reducer.
Multiple SOWs (Statement of Work)
Signing authorities vary by company and job level. Many leaders prefer to keep SOWs to three signatures or less, including their direct report and possibly their boss.
Unless it is a global or large-scale project, this is standard industry practice. Make it easy on the client and offer to break a large project into multiple SOWs. I have worked on hundreds of projects, and far more SOWs have been separated into numerous sections rather than one large SOW.
During the Partnership
Emergency Contact Details
Once hired, make sure that the project lead at the Life Science organization has cell phone contact details for at least two members of your team. Sending this on day one of your partnership gives them a sense of security.
Providing responsive email replies will give your client greater confidence that you will be there when they need you, but think about those times when you don’t have access to email. What if they need you then?
I hired an agency to roll out a leadership development program, and ten leaders from across Europe and the Middle East were attending. The program started at 10 am, but my facilitator from the agency was not there. By 9:15 am, I had called every number I had, but none of them were cell numbers.
The agency communicated the wrong time to the facilitator, who arrived at 11:30 am. When I came back to the office, I saw the flowers from my agency on my desk. However, flowers do not make up for my embarrassment in front of ten organizational leaders.
Send Reminders Before Important Meetings
It is easy for Life Science professionals to get caught up in their hourly meetings and not focus on an appointment you have with them the next day. But if they do plan accordingly, it will be much more productive for both parties.
I recommend sending an email to your client around 9 am the day before your meeting. It should say something to the effect of:
“I look forward to meeting with your team at 11 am tomorrow to discuss XYZ. If you have anything else you would like to discuss during that time, please let us know.”
A communication reminder allows your client to think about the meeting and have their direct reports prepare essential documents in advance.
Be Careful with Gifts
Many life science organizations have compliance rules stating that employees cannot accept frivolous gifts from vendors, including wine. As a Life Science professional, you truly appreciate it when someone takes the time to send you a gift; however, it can become a sticky situation.
One of my previous organizations strictly prohibited the receipt of gifts. I received six great bottles of wine from a new supplier. When my boss walked in, she said, you can’t accept that. I was new and just learning the rules at this organization. The wine was picked up and used for the corporate happy hour that took place every week.
A direct report also received a similar gift, and he had to donate his as well. Then, I walked down to a friend’s office from the marketing team. A bottle of Dom Perignon was on the desk, a gift from her marketing agency. Their whole department received one, and they were keeping them.
Inconsistency across departments causes conflict and leads to even more silos within an organization. One department head follows the rules and insists their team turn in the wine. Another department head has no issues. It’s best to keep the peace when you provide gifts to your clients. The people who are not allowed to keep their gifts grow resentful.
Hiring a Life Science supplier can be a better experience than it currently is for Life Science professionals. At the top of every thought should be:
“How can I, as a supplier, make my client’s life easier?”
Simplicity comes in small packages, meaning a minimal offer you need to make. And that simple offer may be the difference in whether you land their business. Start with the suggestions listed above as a baseline.
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