Communicate—and Start with the Basics
PHARM EXEC: In a final word or two, what practical suggestion do you have to create a successful partnership deal that will preserve small
biotech's essential "license to operate?"
BOWDISH: Knowing what motivates your potential partner and what your own bottom line is—and then thinking carefully on the "give"
that will result in a win/win deal.
LICHTER: Living up to what you promise; recognizing that consistent performance builds credibility over what can be a long courtship.
If you aren't delivering on plan during the dating phase, what happens after you get married?
MCLOUGHLIN: Both parties should start with the assumption that they are here to do a deal. Your interventions should be aligned around
the same message and data points so that if things proceed unexpectedly—such as the decision of a CEO to get involved—there
is no disconnect.
BALTERA: Deal-making is a competitive game, so one should enter with negotiating skills that are well honed. It is good to have alternatives
up your sleeve and to be honest and direct in displaying your options, particularly when the potential partner is so much
XANTHOPOULOS: Nearly two thirds of alliances fail because of unresolved communication and personnel issues. Like a marriage, you've got
to work on understanding each other and making a good cultural fit. We in biotech sometimes carry an attitude—that we know
everything about the science and that Big Pharma is just in it to provide the money. There are no brilliant people on the
other side of the table, just Philistines. That attitude absolutely has to change. We at Regulus have developed internal training
to tamp down these behaviors. I stress the nurturing of personal relationships; if I have to fly to London just to have dinner
with a partner, I will do it. In fact, the practical suggestion I have is to forbid any negotiation or group meeting by telephone.
When you are negotiating by phone, rude and aggressive behavior is encouraged because you don't meet your counterparts face
to face. Most, if not all, of our discussions with our partners occur in the form of in-person events or video conferences.
It's hard to intellectually insult someone if they are looking directly at you.
NEWELL: I agree with the emphasis on communication. We hire people not just for their scientific expertise, but for their ability
to communicate with our collaboration partners. Members of our senior management team are also involved in supporting our
collaboration teams to ensure consistent communication and transparency about progress toward our common objectives.