Life science commercial teams spend a lot of time trying to find the right customers. Ever wonder why that is? Nah. You know it’s because finding the right contacts—those who are directly associated with research or drug development programs aligned to your products and services—is the secret to finding and closing the right deals. And while getting your hands on accurate contact details is challenging enough, it’s irrelevant unless the contact fits your ideal customer profile. With so many programs, data sources, and people, keeping up with all the moving pieces seems impossible, but those sales and marketing teams that win are not just keeping up, they’re steps ahead of their competition.

How Winning Commercial Teams Find the Right Contacts

There is an ever-increasing number of ways to identify contacts at your target accounts. When you know who you’re looking for, traditional tools like contact databases, lead lists, and networking can be workable options for contact research. The latest advancement, machine learning intelligence software, allows you to identify contacts automatically based on your ideal customer profile and is fast becoming a secret weapon of leading commercial teams.

Here we explore these solutions to help you understand how to use each to your advantage and what to watch out for.

1. Email Lists and Contact Databases

Do companies really buy lead lists anymore? You bet they do. According to CSO Insights1, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, 68% of B2B companies are still struggling with lead generation. Lead lists can be pretty tempting to teams looking to quickly increase their reach. An alternative is lead contact databases, which are a similar sort of option. With these methods, there are pros and cons and sadly, the cons outweigh the pros. But hey, let’s start with what does work.

If you are able to purchase legitimate, opted-in mailing lists, then you’ll have contact info for leads that might be relevant to your business. With databases, some have extensive processes for verifying contacts, so these can result in your getting actual, current email addresses for real humans. When you add your own research to that, reviewing leads to make sure they are relevant people at your target companies, these methods may help you get to some of the right prospects.

Now, the cons. As in bad contacts, but also as in bad news for you and your sales and marketing outreach. First, if it’s too cheap to be true, you can expect to have up to 50% bad contact info, which actually means extra time and money spent dealing with bounced emails. But those cheap lists may also have spam traps—bad email addresses that are inadvertently picked up when scraping certain domains—that are specifically created to catch spammers. Sending emails to these addresses can result in your being blocked or blacklisted, defeating your outreach efforts.

Ultimately, even if the contact info is accurate, it’s hard to know if the leads are really a match for your products and services because you have so little data or insight into their needs and behaviors, as well as happenings at their organizations. Lead lists are an option, but one that’s mostly outlived its usefulness.

2. Networking

The life sciences industry offers some terrific networking opportunities that enable commercial teams to meet potential customers in spaces that are more targeted. Scientific and medical conferences are primary networking spaces and can be a venue to meet people engaged in a particular disease or technology focus. These range from broad, like immunology or genomics, to specific, like flow cytometry or breast cancer, enabling you to expand or narrow your networking opportunities. Most life sciences teams go to a lot of conferences to keep up and connect in a rapidly changing landscape.

It’s quite a lot of effort for your team to cover all the new science presented, plus competitor offerings, while still identifying the right contacts and finding time to have those meaningful conversations that will help drive your business forward. Once your team gets back to the office, there may be many more weeks spent debriefing and acting on your findings.

In addition to conferences, user group meetings can be a place to meet potential customers. Attendees may be grouped by their specialized function (researchers, or business leaders, perhaps), by subject interest, or by technology focus.

Sadly, disruptions to conferences and in-person events include canceled or virtual conferences, which are creating extreme challenges and lost business for most life science commercial teams. You are left to reinvent your approach and find alternative ways of networking to find the right contacts.

3. LinkedIn

As in the world’s largest professional online network. LinkedIn certainly belongs in any networking discussion, since for many people, it’s the primary way to connect with colleagues and request introductions. But it is an entity unto its own since it’s now also one of the commonest ways to research your prospects and leads and connect directly—even with people outside your network. Search functionality, as well as the ability to message people directly, have made LinkedIn a go-to solution for finding contacts.

Still, it’s often impossible to know who the decision-makers are for teams that need your unique solutions. So once you’ve found possible contacts on LinkedIn, you’ve either got to reach out without knowing if they’re relevant or do a lot more research.

One of the limitations of LinkedIn that makes it troublesome is that often the platform itself is the only way to communicate with potential customers since users often withhold professional email or other contact information. With strict character limits, it can be difficult to share your message with leads in a meaningful way once you’ve identified them. LinkedIn can be nebulous as well, with some users choosing to stay in stealth mode, particularly when it comes to some of the most interesting companies that you might want to learn about, like emerging biopharma.

4. Machine Learning Intelligence

So remember the myriad programs, data sources (like, ya know, millions every year), and people we talked about? It’s what complicates lead gen and prospecting for life sciences sales and marketing teams the most. Because it’s just too much to research, digest, and act on. Targeting organizations that match your ideal customer profile is critical for account-based marketing, but in life sciences, that can turn on a dime. New opportunities come along so rapidly and there’s so much data to sift through, it’s just impossible to keep up using traditional processes.

So let’s say you come across a press release about an emerging biopharma that got funding for IND-enabling research that might be a good fit for your products and services. How do you know who to reach out to? Or you just heard about a new drug program at a big pharma company in a disease area that is relevant to your company’s capabilities. At an organization with tens of thousands of employees, how will you find the right contacts that are directly connected with the new program?

Enter machine learning—like the kind that powers the Amplion Intelligence Platform. PhD-trained algorithms sort through all the data (like you would if you had the time, unlimited scientific knowledge, and could connect millions of dots in seconds) to instantly match you with the right programs. Once you know which programs and organizations are a fit, machine learning also automatically makes the connections to associated contacts. Yes, it does the work for you. It’s a huge head start and the best way we know for you to actually get out in front of new business and your competitors.

Example of Amplion Evidence-Related Contacts

With advanced data science on your side, you can unleash your commercial team’s expertise to develop the right campaigns and connect with those contacts in a personalized and authentic way. But since that can be challenging, too, Amplion provides insights to inform both the timing and personalization of your outreach.

You can find your ideal accounts and evidence-related contacts in minutes instead of weeks or months. You’ll get a comprehensive view of their programs and publications, funding, technologies, drugs, and more, all customized to your business focus, product capabilities, and services. You’ll also see every new relevant event—like conference abstracts, new hires, and acquisitions—that you can act on. Now.

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Upgrade Your Lead Gen and Prospecting Process

Finding the life science contacts that are most relevant to you is getting easier all the time. Just like LinkedIn revolutionized professional networking, advances in data science will continue to advance your lead gen, prospecting, and outreach efforts. Recent disruptions to your business and canceled conferences make now a perfect time to upgrade your processes and technology to help your team thrive in the new normal.

 

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1. CSO Insights: https://www.millerheimangroup.com/research/