This email exchange to a sales rep might sound familiar to anyone working in marketing at a CDMO:
“Just checking in to see if you’ve been in touch with that CMC leader from our top prospect pharma company that our marketing spent tons of time and money getting to engage with our carefully crafted, thoughtfully distributed, highly targeted content. Any update? Is there anything else you need from marketing?”
Somewhere in the world, a version of this email is sent every three seconds (that might be a dramatic estimate, but you – CDMO marketer you – get the point).
This email means a marketer is trying to be a team player. Instead of tossing leads over to the sales team – never to worry about those leads again – marketing is taking the time to see what’s happening with those leads. They are cheering on the sales team, offering additional marketing support when needed. They want to see their hard work spent uncovering those leads convert to RFPs so that drugs and therapies can get closer to commercialization.
And here’s the email response the CDMO sales rep sends back to that marketer:
“I’ve reached out to that lead and didn't get a response.”
As a marketer, what are you supposed to do now? You’re not a sales manager. It’s not your place to ask when that rep “reached out.” Or what the message was. Or how many times the outreach happened. And there aren’t any notes logged in your CRM, of course, because sales reps are far too busy to log notes in CRM.
When a sales rep sends that response, it means that lead is a lost cause, and you – CDMO marketer you – should go back to engaging other ideal prospects with your content. Right?
Do you want the budget to continue investing in the kind of content creation and syndication required to be a successful CDMO marketer today? If the answer is "yes," it’s time for you – CDMO marketer you – to put your gloves on and step in the ring to battle it out against bad sales follow-up.
The Varying Forms Of Bad Sales Follow-up
There’s always more to the story than the email saying, “I’ve reached out to that lead and didn't get a response.” There are many ways sales follow-up falls short.
Not following up at all.
Some sales reps would rather not work any leads unless it is on fire, which means they don't want to be bothered by biopharma companies who are early in their buyer’s journey of choosing an outsourcing partner.
After all, it’s easier (and more lucrative) to work leads at the bottom of the funnel (such as RFP requests or meetings at trade shows). But trade shows aren't ever going to be the same. And RFPs don't appear out of thin air.
Another reason sales reps don’t follow up is because they don’t know how. Maybe you – CDMO marketer you – see a spreadsheet of incredibly valuable data about your leads. You see what they've engaged with, what therapeutic area they specialize in, and what geography might make sense when they look to outsource. A sales rep might look at that very same spreadsheet and instead see rows and columns of incomprehensible information. And if all that sales rep can do is send an email or a LinkedIn message asking for a call, then it's up to marketing to proactively help with follow-up.
Not following up enough.
One email or one voice mail won’t help a biopharma company choose a CDMO. Even if it’s the single best email ever crafted by a CDMO sales rep, it still won’t be a magic bullet to shortcut the sales cycle. Research shows that 49 percent of tech buying committee members never talk to a vendor while making a purchase decision, and that also applies to the world of life sciences.
Sales reps aren’t incentivized to be patient; they’re incentivized to close business now. That’s why they’d prefer net-new leads that engage right away, and it’s why marketers need to remind them of the value of leads already in your funnel (more on that here).
And remember, an average of 6.8 “leads” are involved in a typical B2B buying group (according to research from Gartner). Your sales team needs to do enough follow-up with all of those people. If your sales team isn't sending at least 5-10 personalized, targeted messages to each member of the buying group, then you shouldn't expect to see much progress being made on your leads.
Following up with the wrong message.
Your sales team might be sending follow-up messages like these:
- “Thanks for downloading our white paper on regulatory challenges. Are you free for a call to discuss how we help pharma companies address regulatory challenges?”
- “Just checking in to see if you had a chance to look at my message from last week.”
- “Can you please help me understand if I'm reaching out to the right person? I wanted to follow up on regulatory challenges that you recently read about in our white paper.”
Follow-up messages should focus on helping these biopharma companies get their drugs and therapies to market faster, not selling these biopharma companies outsourcing services. And yes, there is a difference.
It’s hard for sales reps to be anything but sales-y. But your sales team needs to learn what prospects value and how to support them throughout the buyer’s journey.
Following up the same way with every lead.
Every single buyer’s journey is different. This is true even if your focus is on a single therapeutic area or a specific pipeline stage. Yes, there is a time and place for marketing automation/lead nurturing. But your sales team needs to do market research, tailor follow-up messages, and deliver content that earns a continued conversation based on each unique buyer’s journey.
They might need to influence an independent CMC consultant working with an emerging biotech, but in the next cadence only focus on the CMC leaders at a large biopharma company. There is no one-size-fits-all way to follow-up with leads.
Helping Non-Marketers Learn To Do Marketing
Your sales reps help to market your marketing. You – CDMO marketer you – need to show them exactly how to do this. There are three steps you can take today to start battling bad sales follow-up.
- Ask sales managers to show you the process they have in place for sales follow-up. Document it and see where marketing can plug in to help with templates and messaging.
- Find out who your top-performing sales reps are and what they do differently. Don't just settle for finding out who has the biggest rolodex. Because, chances are, your best sales reps are also doing the best follow-up on leads. Share examples with the rest of the team.
- Create a regular meeting convention where the sales and marketing teams can review the status of current, closed, and lost leads. From here, you can identify trends to see what follow-up is working and what isn’t.
The best content marketing strategy in the world won’t lead to more contracts unless your sales follow-up is existent, effective, and consistent. And the best CDMO marketers will take it upon themselves to ensure that their sales team is making the most of their leads.
Helpful B2B marketing advice.
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