Tailored, empathic outreach is key to connecting with busy executives
Adhira, scientist CEO of Helio Therapeutics, is leading a tiny team through their first major partnering process. To gauge market interest in HT-209, their unique asset completing Phase 1, she drafted the following email:
[Three paragraphs about Helio, HT-209, and the overall pipeline.]
Please take a look at the attached deck and get back to me about your impressions if this is of interest for partnering.
CEO, Helio Therapeutics
[Attached is a 50+ page deck of technical details on the lead asset.]
Adhira sent this email to just over 100 prospective partners. A few replies trickled in over the next few weeks, but none of them were the right fit for her asset.
“I’m sympathetic to Adhira’s desire for immediate feedback,” said Isabella Suarez, CBO of Coleus Biotech, “but she’s making an awfully large ask of those recipients.”
Isabella’s been in BD for over 20 years in both biotechs and large pharmas. She has seen plenty of successful and not-so-successful email campaigns float through her inbox. “It may surprise you, but most executives really appreciate email from strangers—if they’re delivering value.”
Isabella outlined the following steps for getting the attention of your most desirable partners:
1. Understand the market as much as possible before making an approach. “This means doing your homework; knowing who you’re approaching, what they value, and if they’re actually a suitable fit,” Isabella said.
Isabella remembers when someone sends her an email looking to partner their cancer drug when her company isn’t even in oncology. “OutMatch is a great tool for understanding the market to avoid these and other mistakes.”
2. Take steps to know and empathize with the audience. “These are senior executives with very little time. Use it wisely.” Be concise and to the point. Communicate a single, focused message of why your asset would be important to their company.
Isabella’s team tries to keep emails to a few short sentences whenever possible. And Isabella’s always aware that she’s making a significant ask of her fellow executives time and finances, so she keeps the conversation focused on the value proposition while never apologizing for bringing them an opportunity.
3. Tailor your emails to be relevant to your audience’s specific needs. “When I first arrived at Coleus Biotech and started working on partnering the lead, I got our team using OutMatch’s Scientific Synergies to make connections between my prospect’s research and our novel asset. That level of detail gets people’s attention.”
4. Make a reasonable ask. A direct question after a short, introductory email helps elicit a reply. “Is your company looking to in-license in the coming year?” is a good way to end a short introductory email.
Isabella says avoid unsolicited attachments. “I’ve gotten my share of 50-page decks. Those technical materials you diligently worked on should only go to an audience oriented to receive it.”
After Adhira and her team’s first email campaign left her company Helio without a suitable partner, she hired MotionHall for assistance with outreach. MotionHall's Outreach Campaign team produced precision-tailored outreach campaigns that have helped Helio progress to the negotiating stage with several attractive partners.
Great BD leadership means making it your job to understand what your prospective partner wants and values, and delivering it effectively.
The names of people and organizations have been anonymized.