For decades, we have been tuned in to the importance of building relationships in everyday life and in business, but what does this really mean in the context of our important, day-to-day relationships in conducting clinical trials?
To quote Sean Soth, who has long played a high-profile sales and marketing role in his work with industry associations and who is an expert in salesmanship, “As important as data is are the information age, nothing is more important than the health of your relationships. Personal connections are the building blocks of every business. Investing in new ways to engage, maintain and collaborate with the people in your network will continue to be more and more important to your business.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
Relationships are a two-way street. As our staff return from meetings such as MAGI and SCRS, it is clear sites have a stronger voice and now have more outlets and opportunities for that voice to be heard than ever before. That opportunity should be cultivated and utilized by all, with the recognition that we are not being given carte blanche to “complain,” but to work together to develop and cultivate a better under-standing of the needs of the site. In doing so, we also should listen to the views of our partners from pharma, generics, biotech and CROs. We should consider cultivating the growing opportunities for sites to share, learn and associate more closely with one another.
Our reputation, integrity and willingness to collaborate become a big part of who we are and how the conduct of our research will be perceived. It may be worth assessing yourself and your team to determine how good you are at building and maintaining relationships with your clients. Do you strive to win a project and the trust of a new client, only to have that early relationship minimized by a team member who is less than cooperative during a Site Initiation Visit or who becomes testy during budget negotiations and displays an uncooperative attitude? Do you worry a team member is speaking to a monitor in a disrespectful tone? Do you remind and train your team members on good communication skills and the critical element of respecting one’s colleagues? Do you personally exemplify these traits?
As another example, think about the early process of engaging in new business relationships through our standard feasibility process. If it is true that nine out of 10 sites over-estimate their ability to enroll in both written and verbal feasibility assessments and then are selected for a study and significantly under deliver, a tone of mistrust is set from the get go. Perhaps we might consider how we can better communicate and estimate these deliverables and then indicate what we can, and ultimately will, deliver.
We all need cueing from time to time to reciprocate kindness and build an atmosphere of professionalism and trust. These are the fundamental tools of business development. You can enroll all subjects on target and with the upmost quality and have a crack shot approach to garnering new business. However, it all can fall short of the next opportunity if the relationship with your partners is not of good quality.
I stress these points as we continue to engage in high-profile opportunities to have a voice, and ask that you consider the notion that good relationship building plays as a crucial role in good clinical practices. People who learn how to develop interpersonal relationships with everyone they meet certainly experience more success in life than those who don’t. Effective and personal communication stands at the heart of every relationship. Good interpersonal skills never are an accident; they always are the result of high intention, serious effort and skilled execution. The alternative is not so wise in any business transaction.
Jeffrey Adelglass, M.D., F.A.C.S. is founder, own¬er and president of Research Across America (RAA), a U.S.-based, privately owned, multi-site, multi-discipline clinical research organization. RAA owns multiple research sites across the U.S. and has performed over 1,800 clinical trials in multiple disease areas.
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