Insight journal - Dealtalk

Best partnering practices – just common sense, part 1

Posted on 09 February 2010


In Volume 5 No. 11/12 of the euroPLX Business Developer (download from if you haven’t seen it), there was an interesting article about views of best partnering practices. It was interesting because it offered a very candid opinion of somebody who has enjoyed professionalism on the side of his counterparts, but also suffered from unreliability, lack of pertinent knowledge, slow response, or just arrogance.

We, on the side of the organisers, have always been in the position of an observer. We see what is going on during the week-long run-up to a euroPLX Meeting, and during the two days of the event itself. One limitation: We have no knowledge of the interactions after a euroPLX Meeting. We don’t know about the patience that is required in the follow-up phase, or the pain of going through an endless exchange of contract drafts.

Still, we see a lot, hear a lot, receive many verbal and written complaints, suggestions, ideas. And praise. Not only for the value of the euroPLX events proper, but also for other meeting participants who have shown to be empathic, who have treated the other person with respect and politeness, and who have demonstrated with all their conduct that it is their firm intention to build and maintain trusting relationships with their peers.

Of course, we have also been reported the contrary. In a few rare cases, this may have been due to a lack of good will or to indifference but in general we believe that good intentions were just shot down by clumsy approaches which could have been avoided by applying some common sense.

Common Sense Rule 1: Get into the other person’s mind

Trying to get somebody interested in your business opportunity is not much different from a sales pitch. Every sales person knows that he must put himself into the position of the prospective customer in order to understand her interest, need, or fears. And each sales person knows how important it is to obtain as much information about a customer as possible.

It’s a simple rule but many business development executive do not seem to know it. Look at this complaint from the delegates of a company who attended euroPLX 41 Barcelona:

“We are a company that is neither interested in generics nor in out-licensing, points which were clearly stated in our profile.

In spite of that we had quite a lot of meetings with pure generics companies or companies only interested in out-licensing opportunities…”

They had “a lot of meetings” with people who requested a meeting with them but did not care to read the Collaboration Interests of the target company first. Is this professional? Does this reflect the degree of empathy or politeness which is expected in this business?

Try to shift yourself into the thoughts of a partnering event attendee who has stated expressly that she is not interested in out-licensing anything from her company, but has been scheduled an appointment with a requesting delegate who wants to discuss exactly that.

If you have the guts to voice your criticism (and give him a piece of your mind) you might ask him any of the following questions:

  • “Why didn’t you read my Collaboration Interests before you requested an appointment with me?”
  • “If you actually read my Collaboration Interests and know that I am not interested in discussing out-licensing, why did you request a meeting with me and are now wasting a precious time slot which I have paid for?”
  • If you ignore the fact that I have excluded discussions about out-licensing, do you really expect that I might conduct any business with you, somebody who is wasting my time and money?”

Or, if you prefer to keep your mouth shut, the following thought might come to your mind:

“Either this guy did not read my Collaboration Interests, or he read it and just doesn’t care about what I am interested in and what not. If he didn’t read it, he doesn’t qualify to engage in a business development project with me in the first place. If he read it, he did it either too superficially to notice my disinterest in out-licensing, or he forgot it after reading, or he just doesn’t care about my business objectives. In either case he is not the kind of professional I want to trust and deal with. I hope he’ll finish soon, I want some coffee.” -

Reproduced with kind permission from Raucon Business Development

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