Once upon a time, salespeople were an absolutely vital part of every Life Science Company’s marketing approach. Their role was to sell, of course. But a large, essential part of their function also was to market.
They tirelessly toured the labs in their territory, talking to bench bioscientists about what they were doing in the lab. They listened to their problems, shared their know-how and explained their company’s products and how they could help.
They represented their brand to the scientists in the labs. They made the brand visible and authoritative. And they made it clear what their company could offer to its customers.
Most of all, they won friends for the company. And friends like these – friends who know your company, friends whom you’ve won by being genuinely helpful – make the best customers.
What killed the salesman*?
Ok maybe I was a bit dramatic (I did say this was a drama after all). The role of the salesman is not dead. It is still part of the mix for many companies. But the notion of salespeople doing marketing is dead. At least it is no longer essential.
That’s because, now that the internet has gained traction, scientists can search for themselves and find great advice, solutions and product information. They don’t have to rely on sales reps and company literature for information any longer.
And companies need no longer rely on salespeople to make friends with scientists. Companies can simply meet the scientists where they are looking online for guidance, and share advice and solutions that genuinely help. In this way you make friends, and earn the tacit permission to share relevant product information along the way.
How to make friends and influence bioscientists
So – to cram another literary reference (this one a classic for sales reps) in here – how do companies make friends with and influence bioscientists in the online world? The answer is Content Marketing.
This very day, hundreds or even thousands of bioscientists are searching for advice on and solutions in your areas of technical interest. You can reach them, help them, and influence them by making your best advice, insight and mentoring available to them on the internet.
If you help them, you make friends. And if you make friends, you acquire great customers. Or you can choose not to and let your competitors do it instead.
Where to do it
Most traditional marketing vehicles, the ones you are probably using already — journals, product listing sites, news sites — are not good places to reach bioscientists with an educational message.
Why not? Because their core focus is on talking about products (product listing sites), research results (journals) or news (news sites), none of which is about befriending bioscientists through mentoring and education.
Some of these publications make educational opportunities (e.g. Webinars) available for sponsoring companies. But these are a sideshow, and they normally stay on the website for just a short time. As a result, you miss out on the “long tail” effect of your content, which is where most of the benefit and ROI lives.
You could also publish educational content on your own website. That is an excellent strategy, but you need to bear in mind that it takes more resources than you might think to create good content on a regular basis, and it will take many months, and tens or even hundreds of articles to get traction.
Since I work for Bitesize Bio, you can guess what I am going to say next. That’s right – the best place to reach bioscientists and influence them through education is Bitesize Bio.
Educating and mentoring bioscientists is what we have been doing at Bitesize Bio since 2007. And millions of bioscientists (1.8 million in 2015) come to us to find advice and solutions provided by individual scientists who write for us, and companies that work with us.
The salesman* is not dead
So companies that used to rely on one-to-one sales rep conversations with scientists to generate sales can now augment this revenue by placing marketing materials — both educational and product-specific — on Bitesize Bio. Since bioscientists are already searching our community for advice, these companies get immediate traction.
Even better, since all placements on Bitesize Bio are permanent, we are recognised by search engines as a hub for life science content. All articles and webinar videos continue to attract and influence targeted researchers for years and years after publication. (Check out some stats here.)
I guess you could say each Bitesize Bio article works every day, like a mini-salesperson, delivering advice, making friends and creating new friends and customers.
So the salesman isn’t dead after all.
*Note: We know there are more women than men in biotech/pharma sales. All references to “salesman” are not intended to disparage the important roles of women; they are of course a reference to the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. Referring to this raises the hope that our high school English classes were not for naught.