How agencies can win more pharma business

WinPOST SUMMARY: While consolidation continues within the pharma industry, there are opportunities for agencies to win more pharma business and become strategic partners, but it’s going to take a realization that the same old way of doing business is over.

I have through a LOT of agency pitches from ad agencies to digital agencies at clients’ request.  While there were some good pitches the majority are too focused on neat looking Power Points and not enough focused on solving the problems confronting pharma managers today.  Here is some of what I have learned in discussions with senior people on choosing an agency.

(1) Before making a pitch agencies need to understand the organizational culture to identify influencers and key decision makers.  I sat in a really good presentation from a small digital agency to develop a new product website, but they were kicked out of the box because they paid too much attention to the Director of the brand and not enough to both procurement people and middle-level managers who would be working with them on a daily basis.


(2) Don’t kiss up or brown nose.  I see this again and again and good mangers see right through it.  Commenting that you love a potential clients DTC is not smart when some of the current decision makers in the room think it’s terrible.

(3) Coming in and giving recommendations.  Sorry, but you don’t know your clients business in depth yet.  Instead, focus, as part of your presentation, on doing a competitive audit.

(4) Following up with higher level people while ignoring front line employees.

(5) Not having a proven process for developing, implementing and measuring your work.


(6) Having agency people who are multitasking while the presentation is in progress.  Right now I’mmore  important than your other clients.

(7) Asking about budget/billing.  I’m surprised how agencies try to get this information before and during initial meetings.

(8) Trashing other agencies.  Two weeks ago a potential vendor spent at least 5 minutes trashing other agencies. It did not go over well at all.

(9) Presenting an in depth understanding of the way patients make healthcare decisions and how your potential client can influence those decisions. It’s not just pushing information, it’s understanding why, how and when.


(10) Being too big and not allocating your “A” team.  Twice, I have been part of potential vendor discussions only to have a completely different account team become the key contacts.

You have t make the client look good, but more than that you have to be able to provide her, him, with easy to understand the rationale as to why you’re doing what you’re doing and the payoff.  Today senior executives want to know that every dollar spent is going to lead to ROI, but the path to ROI is not always clear and straight.