This contribution to ’52 Perspectives’ comes to us from Jim Worrell, CEO of Ameristart. Jim shares his insights on how foreign CROs can lose a deal by simply not responding quickly enough to the RFP. He attributes this partly to the miscommunication gap based on cultural differences between US sponsors and foreign CROs.
In America, Speed is a Competitive Advantage. We expect things to go fast and we like doing business with people who act fast and do business fast.
- Americans virtually invented the express courier service: Federal Express (FedEx) and UPS were founded by Americans.(Federal Express advertises that you absolutely, positively will have your package by 10:00am…and you get it on time!)
- Americans invented fast food with McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.
- Americans founded Google, the fastest search engine in the planet (they still show you the microseconds it takes to complete a search).
So when American’s do business with foreign companies that do not understand the “need for speed”, it creates problems.
This week one of my foreign clients lost a $800,000 order because they did not reply to the American sponsor fast enough. When I asked him why he did not reply in the time needed, he replied “I was going to do it tomorrow.” Sorry, tomorrow is too late. The sponsor wanted the answer TODAY because she had a staff meeting TODAY. And the foreign client had full knowledge that the sponsor wanted it TODAY. The project was given to another CRO.
In America, speed is a competitive advantage. If you do not answer emails within 24 hours, your chances of keeping your USA customers goes down. If you do not have a back-up person to handle business when you go on holiday (or on festival days), your success in America goes down.
So what can you do?
1. Make it a policy in your company to reply to all inquiries from American companies within 24 hours. 12 hours would be better.
2. If you do not know the answer to their question, email them that you are looking into it and “will advise” and then, follow-up!
3. If you promise an American that you will reply by a certain time, DO IT.
4. If you have bad news that you know the American will not like, DO NOT WAIT. We prefer to know the bad news so we can help solve the problem. Waiting just makes things worse.
5. Over-communicate. Better to have too many e-mails than not enough.
6. Make sure that every member of your team knows the importance of speed when dealing with American clients. Everyone in your company must know that every minute counts.
7. Have a policy for replying to RFPs or RFIs. Most American companies expect a response within 10 business days from the date of receipt. If you cannot do it, CALL THE COMPANY and explain.
In my 30 years of doing international business, this is the single most important element in business relationships, and the single biggest complaing I get from USA companies about doing business in foreign countries.
Be different. Communicate. Fast. You’ll win more business doing it.
About the Author:
Jim Worrell is a serial entrepreneur with deep domain knowledge in both the IT and Pharmaceutical industry, specifically Clinical and Non-Clinical Research. He has been working internationally for the past 30 years, with extensive experience in Europe, Africa, and Asia with an emphasis in Europe and India. His passion and profession is Sales and Marketing, and helping foreign companies succeed in the competitive North American market. They do this by helping them develop and execute sustainable strategies for success in North America. They also also assist US biopharm companies with strategic global outsourcing resources related to clinical trial development.