The buying cycle for many prospects in the life sciences industry is usually long and complex. And their journey to conversion is definitely not linear.
Pair this complex buying cycle with other challenges,, such as limited access to healthcare providers (HCPs), and you’re stirring up a recipe for various marketing and sales obstacles.
“Over the past five years, we’ve seen a steady decline in sales rep access to physicians.” – Malcolm Sturgis, Associate Principal at ZS Associates
Whether it’s more red tape to peel off or fighting through the clutter of an overflowing inbox, how can those in life sciences marketing find, nurture, and convert more HCPs?
Challenges abound in life sciences marketing.
The long, complex buying cycle is clearly a challenge for companies marketing to healthcare providers (HCPs). But it’s an overarching challenge with many spokes, including:
- Difficulty scheduling meetings or calls with prospects: Gaining in-person access to physicians is becoming increasingly difficult because of a shortage of HCPs in the U.S., an increasingly competitive market, and a rise in bureaucratic processes that limit the number of hospital buyers. Reaching these prospects requires a personalized and targeted message, but marketers don’t always have a way to execute at scale or target specific accounts.
- Lead prioritization: When marketing teams pass along leads to sales, salespeople may not have a system to prioritize hot leads, identify second-tier follow-up prospects, or track engagement. Marketers also don’t have a way to align with their sales teams to drive and progress customer relationships.
- Dead leads: Companies may not have a way to take advantage of and monetize their existing lead base.
While these challenges seem insurmountable at times, marketing automation for the life sciences industry can be an effective solution.
Marketing to doctors is hard — and it’s going digital.
The AccessMonitorTM and AffinityMonitorTM surveys from global sales and marketing firm ZS Associates showed that marketing to doctors is shifting to digital, especially as face-to-face meetings become less common.
“More than half (53%) of marketing outreach to physicians now takes place through ‘non-personal’ promotion, such as email and mobile alerts, as well as direct mail and speaker programs.” – AffinityMonitorTM, ZS Associates
Using a marketing automation platform, life sciences companies can start going digital with their marketing efforts. Over the course of a long buying cycle — sometimes multiple years — companies can stay top of mind by providing doctor education via automated email campaigns.
With the right marketing platform — and the right content — in place, marketers don’t have to launch campaigns manually either. They can simply set up scheduled email sends, autoresponders for forms and landing pages, and more.
Prioritizing leads helps align teams and marketing efforts.
Engagement with web content and emails, website browsing activity, interaction with social media campaigns, and contact with customer service teams — all of this information and more is critical to moving marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done to make this handoff smooth and effective.
By streamlining lead management and nurturing leads, marketing teams can automatically send emails based on triggers like time, interactions, and other parameters. Based on engagement, marketing teams can score and grade leads objectively, making it a breeze for sales teams to follow up with the hottest leads.
Once sales teams are ready to reach out, they can use a marketing automation platform like Pardot to personalize pre-built email templates and put prospects on sales journeys. Doing this allows sales teams to send marketing-approved, on-brand messages.
This continuous, targeted interaction with prospects helps them move from one stage of the buying process to the next and keeps life sciences companies top of mind over the course of several months — or even years.
Those leads aren’t dead yet!
“Dead leads” are generally thought of as being lost causes. Maybe they’re not ready to buy for a number of reasons, such as budget concerns, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good.
While sales teams don’t — and shouldn’t — focus their outreach efforts on these so-called dead leads, marketing teams should do the opposite. Staying top of mind with dead leads can eventually move them to be more curious about your company and what you’re selling.
Think about a lead who originally signed up for and viewed a webinar, but they never received more than a concise “thank you” message afterward. Why would they come back? What reason do they have to continue exploring more content?
Marketing teams, with the help of automation, can provide the encouragement to keep engaging with a company’s content. They could send a follow-up email with links to related e-books, blogs, videos, and more. Furthermore, marketers can even display targeted offers on their website and landing pages based on prospect behavior.
Don’t forget that dead leads, no matter how cold they seem, still have a little bit of life left in them.