How can augmented intelligence help to improve customer engagement in the life science market?
It’s a well-known fact that salespeople are essentially knowledge workers. However, today, the Internet has given customers access to more information than ever before, particularly in the life science field, significantly raising the bar.
To devise successful sales programs today, life science reps need to spend considerable time and effort analyzing the mass of publications, grant applications, press releases, and data on clinical trials produced by their customers. It’s interesting to note however, that at a time when resources are of essence, the industry is employing 20% less sales reps today than 15 years agoi.
In the past, sales teams bombarded their customers with mass email campaigns - a costly and unproductive approach that was also met at times with some resentment by busy clients, who had little time to spare. This contraction of the workforce, however, means that life science lab instrument and reagents reps today are under huge pressure to boost their productivity and manage their time more effectively. They can only achieve this by transforming their practices and moving away from a reactive, technical product-centric approach towards a pro-active, needs-based, customer-centric approach. They need to focus on high-value activities such as developing successful outreach strategies that improve customer engagement.
Engaging with customers more deeply at a time of rising customer expectation, greater innovation and growing price pressure requires access to information. Reps need to be knowledgeable not only about their large catalog of existing products, but also about evolving technologies, new lab equipment, reagents and other product releases. Masses of data is available, yet it is meaningless without knowledge and context.
So, how can life science companies extract meaning from this information to conclude a greater number of deals with fewer resources?
By capitalizing on evidence-based insights to boost engagement
Sales is all about building relationships based on trust. The best way to gain a customer’s trust is to show an understanding not only of their current needs, but also of their future needs, research goals, contexts and challenges. It requires an in-depth understanding of their own company’s products, their competitors’ products and their customers’ research. Augmented intelligence tools can process this information and generate evidence-based insights in the blink of an eye, allowing sales reps to engage more intelligently and efficiently with customers.
Do customers choose one company over another because of their product portfolio, or because of their sales pitch?
The sales process is complex. Reps must be able to hold highly technical and knowledgeable conversations with their prospects and suggest effective, cutting edge solutions at the drop of a hat. They must enrich their CRMs with evidence-based insights to maximize engagement and steer customers away from talking about their competitors’ products. They must showcase their own expertise by crafting highly personalized and convincing messages, to highlight just what a valuable resource they are as customers today are becoming increasingly selective about who they give face time to. This kind of approach is far more compelling than scrabbling around the boot of a car looking for a brochure that probably contains outdated or inappropriate information.
Basically, customers are more likely to give time to, or do repeat business with, suppliers they trust and value, and to recommend these suppliers to colleagues within their own or third-party organizations.
By predicting buying behavior to strengthen engagement and leverage ROI
Predictive analytics — the extraction of information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes or trends — is a particularly valuable sales tool as successful transactions require a full knowledge and understanding of a customer’s needs, including those they may not even realize they have yet.
Automated processes can be used to analyze data on customer purchasing practices and make associations that sales reps would never be able to identify manually. They can pinpoint which products in the portfolio are likely to be of interest to which clients and to prioritize them, based on which generate the highest returns. That way, reps can optimize their sales proposals to maximize profits.
This kind of insight is a great way to impress prospective clients and gain a competitive edge. Access to modern predictive analytics tools means that no time or effort is wasted setting up introductory meetings only to discover that the prospect is not interested in what you have to offer. By giving reps the tools they need for effective lead identification and deep engagement, augmented intelligence helps improve success rates and leverage ROI.
A sales rep working for a reagent supplier that has a portfolio of reagents for Immunofluorescence analysis, targets a prospect - a scientific expert who analyzes the impact of certain proteins on Alzheimer’s. This expert has already published several papers using a number of different reagents from various suppliers in his experiments, including immunofluorescence analysis.
Thanks to predictive analytics, the rep is able to pinpoint the best specific immunofluorescence reagents from his own portfolio to present to the scientist, in terms of relevance and revenues.
It’s time to change your tune
Time is of essence when dealing with busy, well-informed customers. The blanket approach is no longer effective in today’s highly competitive environment. There is a real need for highly specific and carefully targeted pitches in the life science sector today to engage successfully with clients. Engagement times are very brief and so must be leveraged by enriching CRMs to deliver the right message at the right time.
Today it’s possible to use augmented intelligence and digital technologies to boost the activities of sales & marketing teams to ensure your message is heard. It’s not a question of choosing technology over face-to-face contact. The two go hand in hand. Digital technologies are a great way to augment human decision-making and interaction to deliver real value for the people you’re trying to reach.
- i “5 Trends shaping the pharma sales force,” 2017, BiopharmaDive, https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/spotlight-trends-pharma-sales-force-digital-marketing/504949/