The science of engagement in B2B life science and healthcare
Building strong relationships is key to the B2B life science and healthcare industry. As buyer behaviours shift and with fewer chances to meet in person, successful sales and marketing teams must embrace digital channels to engage customers and meet their rapidly changing needs.
Buying journeys in the B2B life science and healthcare industry have typically been extremely long, with many customer interactions along the way. Before the coronavirus, face-to-face touch points such as conferences, lectures and site visits were all key.
But B2B life science and healthcare buyers have increasingly been spending more time online researching their potential suppliers before reaching out to sales reps.
And since travel and face-to-face meetings have become difficult – if not impossible – in the wake of the coronavirus, sales and marketing teams have had to find new ways to engage new and existing customers.
The good news? Since your customers are out there searching for solutions, this gives you the opportunity to engage them with valuable digital content. By sharing content that supports the customer’s decision-making process, you will build relationships, differentiate from the competition, and ultimately drive leads and sales.
New ways to reach new customers
We spoke to the Director of Global Sales at one such company adopting a new, more digital approach. Nanion Technologies, a pioneer in automated patch clamping, had seen its sales pipeline impacted by the coronavirus. “We’ve been exploring digital channels with new creative ways to engage our target audience and have seen remarkable results from these initiatives,” explains Frank Henrichsen, Director of Global Sales at Nanion. The sales and marketing team has used email campaigns to target leads from its CRM and relevant contacts from online life science communities. This was supported by landing pages and value-adding content.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn also provide crucial opportunities to reach new audiences. With the tools to target hyper-granular segments of your potential audience, you can generate new leads with content precisely tailored to each segment. If your marking budget has been frozen or reduced, these can be very cost-effective ways to prove ROI before scaling up. Meanwhile, content such as webinars allows you to directly re-engage existing customers and continue to nurture these relationships by offering valuable insights.
Re-evaluate your messaging
Of course, it’s not enough to just be talking to your customers online. What you say has to be relevant and helpful to the challenges your customers have and their position in the buying journey. Remember, their needs and situation might have changed dramatically in the wake of the pandemic. And you need to change your strategy and messaging accordingly.
Within the B2B life science and healthcare industry, the effects of the pandemic have been varied. Many at academic institutions were sent home. This segment was not using or buying consumables as it normally would, and was certainly not interested in a hard-sell on new equipment. On the other hand, many B2B life science and healthcare companies were declared essential businesses by governments around the world. These continued manufacturing as normal, with minimal disruptions to their supply chains. And demand for some raw materials such as quaternary ammonium compounds (Quats) has increased. Ask yourself: what is your customer’s new situation, and how can you help? This is not a question of technical specifications, but the greater value you provide.
Be your customer’s problem solver
Medical research and development and the manufacturing of medical devices, equipment and pharmaceuticals all involve very complex solutions and processes. But no matter how complex your offerings are, your marketing and sales teams can’t focus on product specs alone. To capture the attention and trust of your potential customers, you must continuously communicate the greater value you provide. You don’t just offer a solution to a technical problem; you enable better ways of working, and a better quality of life for both individuals and society as a whole.
If your customers have been sent home, now is not the time for hard-selling, bottom-of-the-funnel content. Instead, focus on information and offers that will help them start up again once they can get back to work. You might even find that this audience has more time to engage with your content. For those operating – though not as normal – how else could you help customers remotely? Online sales demos? Remote audits through video conferencing? Virtual meetings at online trade shows? Nanion, for example, even completed a remote installation for a customer in China, where the customer was under pressure to get the system up and running again as things opened up locally.
The future of engagement?
Digital can be a powerful addition to your sales and marketing toolbox. But is a purely digital approach set to become the so-called “new normal” for the industry? “In our business, the social part is very important, and we haven’t found a good replacement for it yet,” shares Frank from Nanion. “I would be very concerned if we were unable to meet socially in the future.”
The coronavirus might have changed the ways we can interact with both new and existing customers, at least for now. But it has not changed one of the most important underlying principles: Strong customer relationships are built on an understanding of customer needs. Successful brand, marketing and communications is about adding value at every customer touch point, whether that’s physical, digital or a hybrid of the two.
If you’d like to discuss your situation and your options in more detail, you can drop Managing Partner Ralph Krøyer a line on +45 35 25 01 75 or at email@example.com.