When a request for proposal arrives from a potential client, it can be a scramble to assemble a pitch team, and assign roles and responsibilities. The team often relies upon Medical Writers to absorb vast amounts of information about complex therapeutic areas, as well as finding strategic insights — all in a limited timeframe! However, this means that we play a core role in the pitch process and are essential for its success.
The research for a pitch is undoubtedly one of the Medical Writer’s most important tasks because it informs both our recommended strategy and tactics. The conversion of knowledge gained from research into insights, i.e. the ‘so what?’ underpins everything else in the pitch and is often the hardest task to undertake. For example, it may be relatively straightforward to determine the prevalence of a disease or the safety profile of a drug, but it can be more challenging to determine why this matters.
The research process can be very time consuming and often involves the creation of multiple documents full of notes, quotes and snippets of data, before any actual insights are generated. As timelines are often short and the available literature around a therapy area vast, the task can be daunting and sometimes feel unproductive because the majority of the research doesn’t make it into the final pitch slides. However, when the key insights are distilled down from the research it can be very rewarding to realise that after all that hard work, you truly understand the key challenges of a disease or its treatment.
As Medical Writers perform the research and generate the insights, it’s also natural that we present our findings at the pitch and answer questions from the client. Although pitching can cause some nervousness, thoroughly preparing makes the whole process much smoother. I have been put on the spot several times and been asked to elaborate on an insight or defend something proposed, but in each instance the background research I had carried out allowed me to confidently reply and back-up our proposal.
If our insights don’t exactly align with those of the client, I find that explaining our thought processes leads to informative discussions about the client’s strategy and aims for the project — this then allows us to adapt our approach, which in turn leads to a much more productive process. Therefore, it’s really important to read the audience and adapt to feedback and reactions on the fly, rather than continue as if reading from a pre-defined script.
Although pitching can be time-consuming and sometimes stressful, I find new business development to be one of the most engaging aspects of my job. Based on my own experience, I believe Medical Writers are the most important people in a pitch team (although as a Medical Writer of course I would say that!) because the insights they develop and the tactics they propose contribute to the strategy of the pitch. At Succinct, this winning process has been validated by our 75% pitch success rate!
If you are interested in becoming a Medical Writer at Succinct, please contact Lowri Hughes (LowriHughes@openhealth.co.uk)