There was a time when a consultant could build a relationship with a client that would last 20 years. The consultant becomes a part of the corporate culture and as much a part of the family as any staff. While it is true that the ideal relationship is one where the consultant knows the client team well, and understands the issues the company faces, cheering for successes and commiserating in shortfalls, there comes a time when companies need to switch up their consultants.
As a young analyst I was always personally hurt when a client opted to change providers- done wrong, it could be like a bad break up. But I understand now that it is necessary for the client company to keep perspective and to get fresh eyes to look at their situation. I once heard a presentation where the speaker said he always challenged his staff to not get complacent – to not be happy with just good. “Good,” he said “is the enemy of great.” It inspired me enough to use that line more than I should, but I love to challenge perspective clients by enlisting their help in my “battle against good.”
Four reasons why it might be time to try a new CI consultant:
1- They will look at your issues with fresh eyes. They aren’t yet aware of your internal points of view; they don’t know the minutia of how you came to be where you are in your product lifecycle. And as a result they might be able to look at your position, and your competition, with different perspective.
2- They have new resources; a fresh list of physicians and KOLs to get feedback from, a new database, and a new method of interviewing and reporting can breathe life into a topic you thought had been done to death. Alternatively, it might reinforce what you already knew, instilling new confidence that you are moving in the right direction.
3- They bring a different expertise to the table. Every CI analyst has some things they excel at more than others. War gaming, strategy, primary interview tactics, conference coverage… We consultants have to be able to do all these things fairly well, but depending on who you have on your team, there might be some CI weapons that go under-used.
4- They have experience and views from other disease states that might provide a new angle for your situation. Working in MS and shifting to HCV for example, gives an interesting perspective on the shift from injections to oral therapies and all the baggage that goes with it.
It’s less about thinking “outside the box” and more about looking at the project from a different angle. I believe very few people are able to look at the same situation over a long period of time, and continue to see new possibilities. Strategy planning becomes static without a shot in the arm from time to time. Every 3-5 years, it’s good practice to try someone new and see what perspective fresh eyes can bring your company.