People buy more from people they like. We can’t say that enough: people buy things from people they like.

It’s as simple as that. Think about a time when you felt true trust and warmth when you were purchasing something from a person or a service from a team of people. How did you feel about that purchase, versus another potential purpose from a person or team you found off putting? So why would it be any different when a pharma or biotech client is considering purchasing your team’s services for their clinical-trial project?

The stakes are high for a sponsor when they select a vendor – they need to really feel (not just know) that they made the right decision. So, in addition to your services and capabilities, what can we equip you with to help you win a sponsor team over? In short, you need a team people who are likeable and actually like each other – especially at the bid defense. This is the winning strategy.

Likeability 101

In our office, when we are selecting our own vendors for various projects, I know we’ve made the right choice when I can say, “I feel good about giving my business to them.” Your potential sponsors want the same thing. You can give them what they want by showing them how in tune with each other your team members really is.

How does a team become likeable as a whole? It may seem difficult to quantify, but there’s one thing that always engenders trust in a team’s future performance: visible cohesion. A team the sponsor can see works well together, and even enjoys working together. This is a team that sponsors believe can and will work together to solve problems.

Unfortunately, sponsors often don’t get to see and experience the dynamics of the clinical trial team –until they begin working together on the clinical trial itself. This, in our experience, is often too late. For now, CROs do have the opportunity to showcase the wonderful working energy of their teams in an unexpected place: the bid defense.

Bid Defense Bootcamp

Many CROs have strong capabilities and multiple service lines to offer. By the time you get to the bid-defense stage, it’s likely that you have what the sponsor needs (or what the sponsor thinks it needs…a subject for another blog post!). It’s also likely that other CROs in the bid-defense stage also have offerings that would benefit the sponsor. So how you differentiate your CRO and really demonstrate that you will deliver?

Our suggestion: bid-defense bootcamp. CROs often spend half a day practicing their presentation together, and going over who will present what when. This is important, but we urge you to take it a step further.

  • First, truly evaluate if the bid-defense team really is behaving cohesively. The sponsor will assume that this will be how the actual trial team will behave.
  • Ideally have some members of the trial team present who will be the direct counterparts to the sponsor trial team.
  • Have fun with the practice session. Laugh together. Create a positive atmosphere before walking into the room.
  • Make sure that there is no negative energy during the practice session. If there is, make sure to eliminate it before the actual bid defense. Although it may not seem visible, most will pick up on the negative undercurrent and “unexplainably” choose the other CRO.
  • An objective facilitator could be a useful evaluator and coach to view the team and the approach with a fresh pair of eyes.

Creating likeability is a skill that can be honed and enhanced. Capitalize on developing your CRO team dynamic. Give the sponsor the chance to feel good that they made the right decision in giving your CRO their business.

By Kieran Canisius, Co-Founder of Seuss Consulting. Let’s work together to increase the business-development success of your CRO. We offer tailored CRO BD training workshops and solutions – let our team help your team. Email us at or call + 31 (0)20 290 0016.

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