Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Hand-Shake Co-marketing Agreement: What every Life Science Company Should Know

Hand shake

Keep agreements simple to start – build on those that work!

By Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

Complicated co-marketing agreements use up a lot of time and often produce no results.  How many times have you met with another company at an industry event and talked about how great both of your products would sell to your respective customers, go home with high expectations only to have nothing really happen.

Here are two questions you should ask yourself before proceeding:

  • How much time and effort would I expend promoting/selling my new partners product instead of my own?
  • Will they do the same thing for me?

If the answers to these questions are  ‘not much time and effort’, politely move on and find a partner with a better fit.  If you really believe that your partner’s customers would appreciate learning about your product and vice versa, read on.

When your product and theirs together might be valuable for some of your respective customers, this can work.  You have an instrument – they have analysis software—you have a reagent kit –they have the instrument etc.

Handshake Agreements Start Very Simply:

  1. Determine value proposition of both of your products together
  2. Pick a few of your current customers that might be interested in your new partner’s product and contact them on behalf of your new partner
  3. Provide warm introductions for you partner to these customers.  They should be doing the same thing. (Suggest starting with 3 or 4 introductions)
  4. Assess how valuable the leads that you got were from your new partner.

Continue or dissolve the relationship based on how well this is helping you with your sales.

Keeping things simple will allow you to avoid wasting money and time on initially exciting but ultimately ill-fated relationships.  Once you have developed a successful relationship based on your handshake (i.e. informal agreement), transitioning to a more formal agreement will be much easier and productive.

Picture Credit:  © Pakhnyushchyy | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Key to Key Opinion Leaders

cartton of group of grey people following red-colored leader

Motivated ‘Key Opinion Leaders’ can really help you to reach new customers before there is a compelling publication record.

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

One of the best ways to validate your new technology with your customers is with publications (especially those of happy customers).  What do you do when you don’t have them yet?  Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs can be a great resource for getting things moving in the early days before there is a compelling publication record.

Who are they?
Although most scientist-founders will easily be able to name the key people in their field, it is important to find out who your future customers regard as the Key Opinion Leaders.  Set up meetings with your customers, face-to-face if possible, over coffee, in their labs, at trade shows and everywhere and anywhere that you can.  You want to generate a candidate list of about 10 – 15 Key Opinion Leaders.  During this discovery process, be sure to ask who the ‘up-and-coming’ leaders in the field are as well.  The top people can be fickle as they are courted by many whereas the leaders of tomorrow tend to show more loyalty (The up-coming leaders will likely value the relationship more since it can have a bigger impact on their own careers).

Who gets what out of this?
Your goal is to develop a relationship that you and the Key Opinion Leader highly value.  When you and your company are valued, the Key Opinion Leader will talk about you at industry conferences, provide valuable insights on what the key issues in the field are and many other tangible and intangible benefits that will help you with your product launch and even early sales.  Putting some thought into what you hope to get out of the relationship as well as the benefits for the Key Opinion Leader are essential to maximizing this effort.  The two lists below are some examples of the types of things to be considered.

What They Get from You

  • Free conference attendance and travel
  • Early access to instrument or product
  • Free instrument, supplies etc.
  • Completion of a small study by your  R&D team on their  behalf
  • Increased visibility among their peers as you promote them

What You Get from Them

  • Keynote speakerships at tradeshows
  • Completion of a small study on your behalf
  • Testimonials for your marketing team
  • Publications with your product (eventually)
  • Early insights in the field with regard to trends and opportunities

Ready, Set, Go!
Now that you know who the Key Opinion Leaders are that your customers most highly regard and what you will do for each other, it is time to reach out to them.  These early discussions can set the stage for how well this effort will turn out for both of you.  Share with them what you hope to gain and what they could expect to gain from the relationship.  By the end of this you should have agreement on outcomes, timelines for when  you and they expect to deliver on your commitments, how any issues that come up should be resolved and how frequently you will connect to discuss progress (aim for at least once a month if not more).  Having a plan like this in place at the outset will insure that everyone’s expectations are in line and will give you the best possible chance for a successful outcome.

Picture Credit:   © Dmccale | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Technical Demonstration: 3 Tips to Insure Success

Pipetting into 96 well plate with multi-channel pipet

Always demonstrate using your own samples!

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

If you are introducing an innovative new scientific product, you will likely need to plan on letting your customers ‘test-drive’ them first.  Good life scientists are naturally skeptical and often the only way of getting past this to a satisfied user (that will tell their colleagues) is with a demo.  Here are a few tips that should ease this burden and allow you to make the most of this effort.

    1. Only offer Demos to qualified customers.This seems like an obvious one.  However, it is easy to offer demos to anyone that shows interest.  It is quite another thing to actually conduct them.  Be sure that your customer  has the authority, budget and is planning to make a purchase in the next 30 days (if the customer is planning on making a purchase beyond 30 days, consider scheduling the demo later. (this is one of the times that being last is best)
    2. Establish clear success criteria for the demo with your customer.Schedule a meeting prior to the demo where you agree on what the customer would consider a successful demo (e.g. sensitivity, maximum measurement range, throughput etc.).   This will allow you to unequivocally determine that the demo was a success and remove the final barrier to purchase (I say final barrier as this is a qualified customer – see previous point)
    3. Be sure to use your own sample(s) during the demo.Customers will always want to run their own sample.  You can only show how your product performs using a well-tested standard sample.  Using a standard sample will allow you to demonstrate how your product works without the confounding effects that might be present in an unknown customer sample.  It needs to be clear that you have a tool that should help your customer with their research.  A demo should never be a research project (unless you are offering a service and the customer is paying for it).  Offer to run the customer’s sample along with your standard sample if the customer is insistent.

A good demo will go a long way to getting your new product into the market.  In time, the need for customer demos will decrease.  In their place you will be able to use testimonials from satisfied customers, reference customers and even a video demo or two.

Picture Credit:  © Phakimata | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos