Three Steps to Closing the Gap Against Your Top Competitors
You are running a business and trying to grow sales. But your sales reps meet endless roadblocks.
“But the competitor has hundreds of sales reps around the world, and we only have a handful.”
“They are so much more well-known than us – I can’t get anyone to meet me.”
“My prospects won’t return my phone calls or emails.”
“We need more leads if you want us to hit our sales KPI.”
Scientific sales in the bioprocess industry are challenging, especially for small and mid-size suppliers. Your customers are inaccessible – busy at the lab bench, in the manufacturing suite, or in meetings.
When they are at their desk, they’re not eager to pick up the phone and return a sales call. But when they open their email, your competitors’ offerings grab their attention via email campaigns, webinar offerings, or whitepaper downloads.
This consistent competitor promotion is happening to your customer and thousands of other scientists, engineers, and directors every day around the world.
When that scientist is finally in need of a vendor solution, she doesn’t have time to rifle through a stack of brochures and call on sales reps to schedule appointments. Instead, she either Googles, or searches her inbox for that email campaign that caught her attention. In both cases, your mega-supplier competitor has the edge over you because of their more sophisticated customer engagement.
In the former case, search engine optimization and paid search ads favor the larger supplier to be found first. In the latter case, the customer has received more content from the mega-supplier than from you. Simply put, this customer is engaged with your competitor and not you.
What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is the first step in digital marketing. There are many definitions, but we subscribe to the following from Paul Greenberg at HubSpot:
Customer engagement is the whole of ongoing interactions between supplier and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.Paul Greenberg
We like this definition because it acknowledges that the power of choice in the supplier/customer relationship resides in the hands of your customer.
If your customer engagement is limited to attending a few tradeshows a year, monthly sales visits by your reps, a branded USB drive giveaway, and scattered LinkedIn posts, your engagement is very low.
As a result, the customer has little opportunity to “choose” you and really has no investment in your company’s brand. And since your engagement is low, that “big opportunity” that your sales rep talked about 6 months ago, has evaporated without you even knowing.
Three Steps to Closing the Gap
1. Improve Your Customer Engagement
Typical small and mid-size suppliers rely heavily on a handful of tradeshows and occasional visits by sales reps to promote their products, leading to erratic engagement.
Even the best sales reps in the world are capacity-limited in their outreach, and they typically don’t have the time or training to properly segment their customers and tailor their message for most effective engagement.
Consistency is key. Engaging your customers and prospects consistently is best achieved by a multi-channel digital approach. Combine this with precision segmentation to ensure relevancy. Here are some tips:
- Build up an opted-in list of subscribers to whom you can deploy segmented email marketing and create relevant content for each segment
- Produce informative promotional videos and leverage them on your website and YouTube
- Host webinars in relevant online forums to present data to a fresh set of global prospects
- Optimize search so that your product has higher visibility
- Blog regularly to demonstrate your thought leadership in your industry niche
- Maintain a company LinkedIn presence with regular posts of enlightening news, value-added announcements and product launches
- Ensure brand harmonization in all your materials (nothing says “small business” more than stretched out logos and low-resolution graphics in marketing materials)
A multi-channel engagement approach allows your customer to decide how she wants to engage with your brand. Segmentation ensures relevancy. Offering more channel choices and relevant content will dramatically improve engagement.
2. Raise Awareness of Your Products and Services
If improved customer engagement is the cause, then increased customer awareness of your products is the effect.
By packaging your unique content in a professional, eye-pleasing manner and deploying that content across multiple channels, you are raising awareness of your features and benefits in the market.
So the next time your scientist has a need for your product, she may very well recall your white paper that she downloaded last quarter, decide it may be a solution for her to consider and reach out to you with a quote inquiry – all without a sales call. You have pulled her in through inbound marketing while driving down your cost to acquire a customer.
3. Increase Your Lead Generation
Digital marketing terms such as “impressions,” “open rates” and “click-throughs” are all metrics by which digital outreach can be measured over time.
For example, the average click-through rate in B2B marketing emails in 2018 was around 3%. While a 3% click-through rate from your marketing email to a subscriber list of 1000 prospects may not sound like a very successful campaign, it means that 30 people were interested enough in your message to engage with your call-to-action – and because the outreach was digital, you will be able to track those prospects that clicked-through.
In other words, your sales reps now have 30 more leads to foster and close than they would have otherwise. Will every email blast generate 30 leads? No. But over the course of a year, with regular engagement via webinars, video, social media, blogging and email marketing, you can expect to generate hundreds of new leads for your sales team for a lower cost than you might think.
Raising awareness and increasing lead gen hinges on improving your customer engagement. If you take that first step in a proper and thoughtful manner, then your sales reps will be busier than ever closing deals and you will have begun to close the gap on your competitors.
Would you like to improve your engagement with biopharma prospects and customers? Reach out for a consultation. Simply fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch very soon.
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