Negotiating Trial Budgets: Tips to Help Sites Stand Their Ground

April Schultz
July 10th, 2015

Developing a study budget that captures all the costs associated with a clinical trial is essential to the financial success of site-conducted studies.

Landing a good deal with sponsors has the potential to ensure your site is not only able to conduct the trial within budget, but also make a profit. Additionally, it could strengthen your relationship with the sponsor.

To gain this all-important trial budget, sites need to negotiate terms with their sponsor. Unfortunately, many sites aren’t comfortable with the prospect of negotiating a budget – either because they don’t feel confident in their negotiating abilities, or they don’t know the right tools to use for the best leverage.

In reality, negotiation doesn’t have to be scary. The eBook “Negotiating a Stronger Clinical Trial Agreement and Budget” addresses three key components to help you stand your ground and achieve a “win-win” agreement:


When negotiating, a good action plan can mean the difference between success and failure. Go into a budget negotiation fully prepared with the necessary information, the right questions to ask and an adequate back-up plan.


It’s important to know what you can use as leverage to influence a sponsor’s decision. Highlighting strengths and communicating a “unique value proposition” will show the sponsor why your site, in particular, would be a valuable partner in the trial.


When presenting an offer to sponsors, you need to leave emotions at the door, put relevant concerns on the table and always go high with your first offer. This shows confidence and professionalism that will protect your site’s reputation, regardless of the outcome.

(Click here to see the full eBook: “Negotiating a Stronger Clinical Trial Agreement and Budget“)

The eBook also explains how clinical trial management systems (CTMS) help take any fear out of negotiating budgets by providing you with information that can be used to your advantage. A CTMS allows you to accurately budget your anticipated costs for a protocol, which can help them justify a trial’s costs.

A CTMS allows sites to accurately budget their anticipated costs for a protocol, which can help them justify a trial’s costs.

A CTMS also helps you highlight your site’s strengths such as success rates, large patient pools and advanced performance. With a CTMS, this information is readily available, making your preparations much quicker, and hopefully making negotiations much smoother.

In the end, it’s important to have an open mind and to maintain open communication. You should understand your site’s capabilities and remember that it’s OK to say no. If your budget doesn’t align with the sponsor’s, politely declining the study will save your from losing money by conducting the trial, while preserving a relationship with the sponsor for future opportunities.