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Landing the Big One: How to Score a Partnering Meeting with Big Biopharma

March 21, 2013
You’ve registered for the BIO Business Forum and received your log-in credentials. You’ve updated your drug assets and published your company’s profile. You peruse the list of other participating companies, looking for potential partners to message. Then, you see them. The big fish in the biopharma partnering pond. You decide to send them a meeting request and wonder, “How can I increase my chances of actually meeting with them face-to-face in Chicago?”

To answer this question, here are some tips to optimize your meeting requests and help you land meetings with big biopharmaceutical companies!

Dangle Some Bait: Subject Lines Matter

Each year, our large biopharma sponsors receive the most requests of any company segment—we are talking thousands of incoming meeting requests. Managing the company message center can become a complicated task, only simplified with clear, internal execution. The people who manage the company’s partnering inbox need to quickly verify the meeting is of interest and understand which of their colleagues should further evaluate the request. So a generic “Let’s meet at BIO2013” subject line is not going to make your meeting stand out in this sea of requests. Instead of wasting this prime real estate, put the disease area, phase of development, technology, and/or goal for the prospective meeting in the subject line. Direct, specific subject lines are more likely to catch the right person’s eye and put you on track for an accepted meeting.

Additionally, large companies can have 20-40 delegates in the Partnering System, all with access to the company’s message center. If you know the person or people at the company who cover your disease or technology area, put their names in the subject line and address the message to them. This should reduce the likelihood that someone else from the company will respond to your request before the right people even get a chance to read it. You can find the names and title of everyone attending from a specific company by clicking on the delegates button within the company’s profile.

Set the Hook: Get Specific with Your Message Contents

Similar to subject lines, using blatantly generic text in the message field vastly decreases your chances of landing a meeting. The most successful companies use the message field to give details on their intentions for the prospective meeting. Show the other party that you did some initial research on their business and that they stand to gain something from accepting the meeting. Remember, they receive tons of requests, so be clear, concise, and compelling. Long rambling messages are not likely to be read in full.

Use a Net: Maintain Your Account and Inbox

When you have a fish at the end of your line, you don’t expect it to jump right into your boat—you bring a net to help land it. Likewise, when you send a meeting request to a big biopharma company, your company profile should be as complete as possible and should support the requests you send. Don’t expect other companies to take the time to Google you or visit your website in order to figure out what you’re all about. Furthermore, while big biopharma gets thousands of requests, it still does some of the fishing too: a robust company profile can boost your appearance in keyword and other searches and help net you more incoming meeting requests.

Also, be sure to check for follow-up emails from companies asking to reschedule meetings. Companies with full schedules commonly need to reschedule meetings and requests to do so often occur in the days just prior to the event. If you don’t reply promptly, they may simply have to cancel your meeting with them.

Get Out Early!

As the Business Forum draws closer, schedules and meeting rooms fill up very quickly; most big biopharma companies max out their time and space availability well before they arrive onsite. If you wait until the week before the event to send your request, there is a good chance that the response will simply be “Sorry, our meeting schedule is full". In order to avoid this scenario, send your requests as early as possible. And if you see an “agreed-to” meeting that is not being scheduled, work to open up your own individualized calendar during as many partnering timeslots as possible, which will maximize the probability of finding a mutually available time for the meeting.

Hopefully these tips will help you secure productive meetings with big biopharma companies. After all, the Business Forum is all about helping you get the “catch of the day”, and avoiding tales of “the one that got away”. Happy Partnering!