It probably goes without saying that COVID-19 has marked a pivotal time in history. The pandemic will forever change the way life sciences companies do business and business will never fully return to “normal” as we knew it. But it doesn’t mean that life sciences companies can’t win in the new business world.
It's easy to blame the pandemic for a broken sales process and therefore poor results, but the truth is that technology, regulations, and governance in the marketplace had already set a change in motion. Now, momentum is building, and we've entered a new era of sales. Adaptation is imperative for life sciences companies to survive and thrive.
Here’s what you need to know to craft a revenue growth strategy for 2021.
#1 - The sales process has changed
In the past, sales reps met face-to-face and developed relationships with their customers. They could directly share their knowledge of a product or service through a variety of sales tools developed by their marketing department. They could look at a potential client in the eye, read the situation, and gain key insights into stakeholder dynamics and the buying process. They could negotiate terms and choose from an array of sales techniques they found effective. Ultimately, they had the ability to customize the sales process to each individual client, to each unique circumstance.
And while you might have a few super-performers in your sales organization, many companies are struggling to meet revenue expectations. They don't necessarily know how to adjust resources—human and financial capital—to meet customer needs and expectations.
Prior to the pandemic, change was already starting to shake up the industry:
- Only 20% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the awareness stage of their buying process.
- More than 70% of the sales process now occurs before the client even interacts with a sales rep as technology has advanced and we've become a more digital-first world.
- 65% of tools created by marketing are never used by sales because they create too many tools that provide no value or are misaligned with the buyer's journey.
- When interacting with salespeople, 66% of decision-makers said vendors provide them with too much content to sort through; 57% said much of the material is useless; and 60% of buyers said they get their information from other sources.
- More than two-thirds of companies are underperforming or performing inconsistently when it comes to creating the urgency to get prospects to buy sooner rather than later.
The data is pretty dismal, but it can help you understand the current climate and inform your strategic decisions going forward. The companies that excel in uncertain times are those that recognize the change around them and adjust to it.
#2 - Customers don't care about you
In Mark Weinberg's bestselling book, New Sales. Simplified. The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development, he explains that the most important business weapon in your arsenal is your story:
A client-focused story is a prerequisite for new business development sales success. It's our best opportunity to set ourselves apart from the competition; to beautifully package our offering; to gain the prospect's attention; and to position ourselves as experts, value creators, and problem solvers.
Your story must focus on the client—starting with who they are and then who you are in relation to their needs. It’s not about what you make but what you make happen for your customers. One of the biggest benefits of a strong, client-focused sales story is that it helps differentiate you from your competition to create a sense of urgency for your prospect, change their behavior, and drive commitment.
When you look at the world through your customer’s eyes, you will close more deals, recognize more revenue, and dominate the market—even during a pandemic.
#3 - Expertise is the new business currency
While COVID-19 has certainly created sales constraints, research shows that we are now selling to a buyer-driven economy. If you want to make big sales, your company must begin solving big problems for high-level executives. Doing this takes time, people, strategy, and leadership.
The world of business is no longer about communication or relationships; it's about engagement and expertise. Relationships are built on trust, not presence, and trust is cultivated through expertise that helps business leaders navigate their new reality. Your sales reps will be required to solve bigger problems—the kind of systemic, organizational problems that affect the overall output of your customer’s business. And time is of the essence. If you can’t help them quickly fix their urgent problems, they’ll find someone else who will.
#4 - Business growth is about creating behavior change
Having the best product doesn’t matter. Filling an unmet need doesn’t matter either. To win you have to uniquely solve an important problem, get people to change their behavior and embrace the new. Because problems move people not product features.
Business growth requires a strong understanding of the buyer rather than the business. It requires identifying the threats and opportunities your buyers are facing rather than the threats and opportunities you're facing as an organization. When you understand your client's business as intimately as you understand your own, you can develop and present solutions in a way that changes buyer behavior and encourages commitment.
We’ve already highlighted how the buying process has been altered in very specific and critical ways. As such, you must change the way you sell when your buyers change the way they buy from you. Savvy companies will realign sales and marketing to create a proactive strategy that conditions the market about how to think about a problem, abandoning old ways and embracing the new. Marketing will need to take on greater ownership of the top of the sales funnel to condition the market to see the world the way you do, attract important users, and create the buzz necessary to build momentum for your solution.
Life sciences companies that seize the opportunity now to define their 2021 business strategy will be better positioned for success in the ever-changing business climate. Let us help. Find out about our proven process to condition the market and drive behavior change to accelerate results.
Want to Increase Your Odds of Winning in 2021?
Grey Matter Marketing is a full-service, award-winning PR and marketing agency working exclusively with healthcare companies. With a knack for storytelling and content marketing that engages and drives action, we can help craft your 2021 revenue growth strategy. Because what you do (or don’t do) matters. For more information, contact us.