Partnering with Pharmaceutical Companies | Peter Kayatz

An opportunistic partnering, e.g. visiting BioEurope, or being listed in business development portals is fine. However, effective partnering requires a targeted approach, with a defined process that is executed in a professionally managed way.

  1. Be sure what you have!
  2. Be sure what you are looking for!
  3. Be sure what you are doing!
  4. Be sure what you did!


 1. Be sure what you have!


You have to know the sales story of your product/service.
What is the problem, your product or service is solving?

2. Be sure what you are looking for!


What is the target profile of your wannabe partners?
What problems or needs does your ideal partner have? This should be a more or less perfect match with your sales story.

3. Be sure what you are doing


 Be respectful with your partner
  • Call her by name
    Address your contact with name, refer to the specifics of the company. Clarify the rational of the product-customer-fit.
  • Get right to the point.
    Don’t waist your contact’s time.
    Clarify the rational of the product-customer-fit, and ask if he is interested.
  • Avoid the “do it tomorrow stack”
    Initially, confront your contact only with questions or jobs, that can be accomplished immediately.
  • Develop a discussion
    Ask your contact for her information needs.
    Give only the information your contact needs for making a decision on a a want for further information.
Make the right decisions
  • Channel of contacting
    (phone, email, meetings)
  • Escalation steps
    for providing more detailed information
  • Confidential information
    What is confidential and what not?
  • Standard vs. customized information
    What standard information will be provided to every lead?
    What information will be provided only upon request?
  • Follow-up intervals
    What are (roughly) the follow-up intervals in the different phases of the contact, when there is no immediate response of the prospect?
  • Role allocation
    Who is playing which role in the contacting, managing, and negotiation process.
  • Reporting
    What information is to be reported to whom?

 Have the right docs at your fingertips
  • Sales Pitch
    Not en elevator pitch of 2 min, but, rather a pitch of one sentence.
  • Flyer
    That can be read in only 30 seconds, with a summary in bullet point, that can be read in 10 seconds.
  • Product Presentation
    This is the 10 page Power Point with pictures, schemes and bullet points
  • Management Presentation
    A Power Point presentation that can be presented in 20 min.
    Makes no sense to simply read the product presentation you’ve sent already before by email.
  • Confidential Information Agrement (CDA)
    Make sure not to include any confidential information, e.g. product or company names in the CDA. They sign only after they have read all the  provisions of the CDA  🙂
Control the process
  • Speed up the initial phases
    Go fast and without prioritizing for identification, contacting, and provision of standard docs.
  • Never start only with the preferred prospects
    Until you know that these will not partner, you lose one year, going for the second tire partners will take another year. These timelines could break your neck.
  • Start shifting gears only with strong established contacts
    Only after completing the standardized first phase of contacting, when you have established a thorough and friendly discussion with your prospects, you should prioritize your first tire prospects and speed them up, while retarding second tire leads.
  • Query
    Further Information needs
    Process and hierarchy of decision making
    Time lines
 Close the deal
  • Term Sheet Structure
    Clarify first the deal structure, delineated in the structure of the term sheet. Do not come up with numbers before you have agreed on the structure.
  • Numbers
    Nothing is agreed on until everything is agreed on. Draft different scenarios and discuss only the whole packages.
  • “Lawyer-free Zone”
    Discuss the deal structure and the numbers without layers on any side of the table. You want to get to a deal and not to watch a “pissing contest”.
  • Let them in
    If the term sheet is to be signed, hand the ready negotiated term sheet to your lawyer and give him the telephone number of the other side’s layer. They shall clarify details without audience.
  • Due Diligence
    Support the due diligence of your prospect partner as well as possible. This is the first collaborative step in your partnership and your prospect will thoroughly scrutinize your performance. Remember, the deal is not yet closed.
  • Closing
    Be prepared for both: Many deals broke up only at the solicitor’s office, or where modified significantly at this occasion. However, have a bottle of champaign cooled, in case you really close the deal.
  • Go-alive
    Have another detailed look at the whole contract and prepare a cheat sheet with all the topics that are crucial for executing the contract.

4. Be sure what you did!


Nothing is more embarrassing and harmful to the partnering process then not to know anymore

  • Which companies have been contacted?
  • Which people have been contacted?
  • What was their comments and information?
  • Which docs did they already receive?
    (which version!?!)
  • What are the next steps with the prospect?
  • When did we have the last contact?
  • When do we have to follow-up again?

Typical deals take 9 to 24 months time and contacting 20 to 150 different companies. Don’t try to handle this with Excel!

You will need a reliable and powerful database for this.
The database doesn’t have to be expensive, but you need some customization for being used efficiently.


If you have your customized database in place, a regular, lean, and meaningful reporting to the management is produced within some minutes.