How to sell into the pharmaceutical industry and get pharmaceutical companies as customers

byRiya Uppal

It is no secret that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. The global pharmaceutical manufacturing market size was valued at USD 405.52 billion in 2020, with an expected growth rate of 11.34% from 2021 to 2028 as per the GVR market analysis report.

Though it may look like a lucrative market for B2B sales, the challenge is that pharma suppliers have very little power in the pharmaceutical industry as the market is not only very competitive but also highly dominated by big players.

The only way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to selling into the pharmaceutical industry is through in-depth research and proactive outbound sales. This blog post will define a step by step guide of how to get pharmaceutical companies as customers using the same strategy.


The current landscape of the global pharmaceutical market

In the Deloitte 2020 pharma report, a survey of 60 biopharma company leaders and perusal of investor statements from the largest pharma companies revealed some interesting findings. Below are the key points from the report:

-Priorities: Companies believe that transforming functions using digital technologies will be of high strategic priority in the next five years.

-Next frontier: Respondents believe customised treatments, nonpharmacological intervention, and prevention and early detection will have the greatest effect in the life sciences industry in the next 10 years.

-Challenges: Respondents rated changing consumer behaviour, cyberthreats, and accelerated technology advances as the top challenges that will have the greatest impact on their company in the next year. Deloitte’s report analysis of the transcripts from investor meetings also prominently featured the word “consumer.”

The challenges highlighted in the report point to enormous opportunities owing to digitalisation and consumer-oriented marketing by pharmaceutical companies. The push on digital technologies within the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries can mean one thing for you–that you have an open route to target these companies online.

As pharmaceutical companies build their digital presence, use a mix of outbound and inbound strategies to present prospects with a more well-rounded view of your business. In simple terms, outbound marketing involves pushing your brand in front of audiences. In contrast, inbound marketing means implementing strategies like social selling that naturally draw consumer interest in your brand or products.

That said, outbound sales can be one of the more direct and quicker ways of generating leads as it allows you to target your audience and message for maximum results. Let us now specifically look at the use of outbound sales for driving B2B sales in pharmaceutical companies.


Why should you use outbound sales to get pharmaceutical companies as customers?

With pharmaceutical companies expanding on their digital marketing, it is a good time for B2B pharma marketers to launch their outbound sales strategy.

Below are some reasons to use outbound sales for selling to pharmaceutical companies:

  • Highly targeted outreach

Outbound sales facilitate a highly targeted outreach in how it lets you pick your prospects and reach out to them. You control who you are going to contact, when and how. Whether it is a phone call, email, or social media, you decide the right medium and the right time to reach exactly who you want to reach.

In the pharmaceutical industry particularly, there are a lot of suppliers for raw materials. So, there is a low chance that a key decision-maker within a pharma company will find their way to your landing page or blog post, but reaching out to them via email, for example, directly takes you to them.

  • Immediate feedback and results

Outbound sales generate new business quickly. You can directly contact a contact person and have someone signed up for an online demo within minutes. Even though not all cold pitches will pay off, you are likely to get quick feedback and results via a cold call or email.

Like most marketing activities, outbound marketing depends heavily on quality execution. When done right, it can be one of the best ways to generate leads in the shortest possible time.

  • Personal contact with prospects

Talking to people directly is the best way to get to know your customers and truly understand their problems. Only when you learn the pain points of your target audience, can you present your product as the solution.

In the pharmaceutical industry, like in every other industry, sales rely on relationship building. An outbound sales campaign takes away the guesswork and allows you to get in touch with your prospects and get first-hand information about their pain points and priorities. This personal contact can prove invaluable to building lasting relationships and improving your product offering.

  • Control over the pace of marketing and selling

The biggest reason to invest in outbound sales is the control you have over the volume of sales you make and optimising each stage of the sales funnel.

The first tweakable variable is the number of people you contact. If you are currently reaching out to 50 decision makers per day and you bump that up to 100 with all else staying equal, you can predict a doubling in the number of opportunities you get, for example, from 3 to 6 demos scheduled. With outbound sales, you get control over the pace of your marketing and selling activities.


How to use outbound sales to target pharmaceutical companies?

Now that we have gone through the reasons to adopt outbound sales for marketing, let us go into more detail about how to do it.

There are three parts to doing outbound sales which are:

-In depth research and preparation

-Omnichannel outreach and opportunity generation

-Supplementing your outbound sales ops

We will go into all three in detail


Part 1: In-depth research and preparation

The first part of doing outbound sales is research and preparation. 

This includes the following key steps:

Set specific targeting criteria by defining buyer personas for pharmaceutical companies

The first step on the ladder is defining who exactly you are selling to. A spray and pray approach seldom works in marketing so, take some time in this stage to whittle down your ideal customer profile.

One of the best ways to do that is to identify the characteristics of your current successful customers who have found value from using your solution. You can do that by answering questions like:

  • Company size: how many employees does the company have (e.g. 11-50, 200-500, 1,000+)
  • Company location: where is the company physically located (e.g. North America, Germany, London)
  • Company scale: what is the revenue of the company and how many locations do they have. (e.g. if it is a big scale company, you will typically have more stakeholders in the sales cycle)
  • Specific questions: which department uses your solution, how many employees work in that department and what other software do they use. Answers to these questions can help personalise your pitch.

Identify your key stakeholders within your targeted pharmaceutical companies

Once you know your ideal customer profiles, look out for the right people to contact in the organisation. One effective way to do that is by looking at keywords in their designation. 

In most cases, the candidates will be chosen based on two primary factors:

  • Contact seniority/position: high-ranking positions in the company like CEO, CTO, COO, etc are likely to have more expertise in their respective business department and bigger decision power.
  • Contact department: where the prospect operates in day-to-day business (e.g. ‘Sales’, ‘Legal’ or ‘Human Resources’). Depending on the relevance of the project, you will have one or more departments involved in the purchasing decision.

A few select data providers, like hubsell, allow you to further refine your criteria beyond company size, location and sector with any custom requirements you may have. At hubsell, with Data Processing as a Service (DPaaS), our team of specialised researchers can process your data on-demand and according to the criteria you provide.

Prepare for outreach by getting quality B2B data

There are many ways to get B2B data, ranging from in-house teams doing manual research to buying access to a B2B contact database. Let us discuss the pros and cons of each of these methods to help you figure out which one works best for you.

  • In-house research

This method is generating data for pharmaceutical companies using in-house methods. Although this approach has some benefits, such as owning your data generation process and minimising data acquisition costs, the burden your sales teams bear spending time on non-revenue generating activities and learning non-sales related skills typically outweighs the benefits.

  • Getting pre-generated data

This method of using a database vendor enables salespeople to filter contacts according to their criteria and acquire those contacts for outreach. However, since these contacts are pre-generated, this may not be the most effective method of getting your data, owing to inaccuracies from data becoming stale.

  • On-demand generated data

Our recommendation would be to gain on-demand generated data. Having a data provider who processes data per your request guarantees B2B data that is qualitative and fresh. You can be sure that your sales and marketing initiatives will be delivered successfully, and each contact is relevant to your business.

To highlight the importance of B2B data quality, this post goes in-depth on the topic and the cost of low-quality data on business, but here are the key points you need to know when getting started.


What is B2B data quality?

B2B data quality rests on five core parameters.

  1. B2B Data relevance

Relevant B2B data ensures that the data you get is composed of suitable contacts and accounts as per your targeted market. 

Relevant B2B data will make you confident in the success of your sales and marketing efforts. It enables you to segment your data to create highly targeted campaigns. The content of your campaigns will speak to each of your prospects in a way that is meaningful and adds value to them.

  1. B2B Data accuracy

Once you have decided upon who your relevant buyers are, the accuracy of the information for that data is the next step to getting high-quality B2B data. 

There are many ways a dataset can be inaccurate, such as wrong spelling or typos, duplicate data, inaccurate information, etc. It can wreak havoc on your marketing efforts, such as incorrectly naming a prospect, mistargeting accounts, or unknowingly omitting prospects from campaigns.

  1. B2B Data validity

Data validation ensures your data has consistent formatting, contains valid contact information, and is free from errors and anomalies.

There are a few problems associated with missing out on this key aspect, such as unstandardised data and incomplete B2B data. Data validation is the preventative measure that ensures your data is used effectively and that you maintain the greatest chance of generating more sales opportunities. 

  1. B2B Data breadth

The breadth of data you have for each contact or account refers to how many data points you have on each contact. 

For your data to be high quality, you should have a rich profile of many data points that allows for personalisation and enables you to draw deep insights into your data. Being able to tailor your marketing activities and value proposition to each market segment not only increases your chance of connecting with your potential customers but also shows that you understand their potential pain points for which you can provide a solution.

  1. B2B Data freshness

All data is susceptible to data decay as contact information is constantly changing due to many factors such as location change, job switching, change in the phone number. Therefore, it is important to have near real-time data sourcing to ensure data freshness.

If you execute an email marketing campaign using data with unvalidated email ids, you can experience several emails bouncing. Emailing to a wrong or non-existing email address causes a hard bounce. These types of delivery failures will impact the domain health and the spam rating of your subsequent emails.

A data provider can provide you with rich customer profiles with freshly sourced and accurate contact information. To give a reference point, hubsell provides on-demand processed contacts to ensure data freshness and human-validated contacts with up to 25 variables ranging from the simple label data (e.g. name and title) to more meaningful categorical data (e.g. seniority and department), allowing for high levels of personalisation and analysis with at least 95% deliverability rate.


Part 2: Omnichannel outreach and opportunity generation

Implement dynamic outreach campaigns

After acquiring the B2B database, you need to jump into the main part of reaching out to your prospects. At this step, you should be getting ready to launch an omnichannel outreach. This is the art of interconnecting channels such as social media, email and phone to engage your prospects and generate leads.

An effective outreach strategy gets your prospects’ attention on the channel they are most active on or where they are most comfortable engaging with salespeople. Since we do not know which channel that is, an omnichannel outreach approach is the best way to discover this.

There are some crucial parts to launching a dynamic omnichannel campaign:

Multiple channels

An omnichannel outreach campaign is a sequence of touchpoints made over time and across a variety of communication channels such as email, LinkedIn, phone. Each touchpoint serves the purpose of attempting to provide enough value and interest to prompt a reply. Rather than selecting only one or two channels, you should use a synchronised combination of all of them–which is called omnichannel outreach. 

Integration in channels and tools

An effective omnichannel outreach strategy should have seamless integration between channels and tools. This includes CRM integrations as well as integration of channels like email and social media accounts. This is to sync your mailbox and social media accounts on a single platform and do outreach across channels. The outreach process so achieved closely resembles hand-typed messages manually sent from personal accounts.

Personalisation 

Personalisation is a core ingredient of getting the attention of your prospects in the targeted pharmaceutical company and it goes above and beyond just customising the message content. A good way to achieve personalisation across channels is by launching a dynamic campaign through outreach automation software. A dynamic campaign considers responses from your prospect and generates automated follow-up sequences based on it. The more data points you have on your prospect, the better your execution in this step will be.

Follow up

The stage of following up after the first contact can be one of the most challenging steps of outbound sales, yet it is also one of the most important ones.

According to IRC Sales Solutions, only 2% of sales are made during the first point of contact. This means businesses lose 98% of their potential sales leads if they do not follow up.

A crucial part of follow up is classifying your leads as Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) or Marketing qualified lead (MQL) as that will help you understand which stage your leads are in and tackle their objections accordingly. Let us look at these two lead classifications in detail.

  1. Sales Qualified Lead: SQL is usually ready for a demonstration of your product in the near future. They usually rarely need to be given initial stage resources (e.g.: ebooks, cheat sheets, general blog posts, etc). Instead, they are interested in the demo/free trial through customer references or stories.
  2. Marketing Qualified Lead: MQL will need more convincing and engaging before they are ready for a demo, a free trial, or even a call. Therefore, customer stories are not yet appropriate at that stage of readiness. They need blog posts, pdf and ebooks that educate and provide insights on the industry.

A specialised outreach software like hubsell will help you determine which stage your leads are in based on customer intent data such as opens, accepted connection requests, links clicked. This can then plan your campaign actions and move across single or multiple tracks to achieve true personalisation.

Overcome sales objections 

Next up, we have objection handling and the subsequent process of qualifying prospects as opportunities by answering the replies. This process can be partially automated through a few template email responses, as we will discuss in this section.

Some responses will repeatedly appear in your campaigns. In particular, we have found eight replies in our experience with our customers, so below is a guide on how to reply to them.

  1. Indicated interest 

Response: email scheduling a call

  1. Reply requests additional information 

Response: email with more detailed information

  1. Reply communicates a lack of priority

Response: email implying that you understand and that you will reach out a few months later

  1. Replies stating the prospect is not the right person
  • Scenario 1: They say they will connect you with the right person and give you an email address or cc you in the forwarding email.

Response: Wait for the response of the right person or send an introductory email.

  • Scenario 2: They say they will forward the email to the right person (without cc’ing you) 

Response: Wait for reach out from the other person or start contacting other decision-makers in the company.

  • Scenario 3: They do not connect you with the right person. 

Response: Start contacting other decision-makers in the company.

  1. They say they are satisfied with an existing solution 

Response: Thank them for their time and ask them to reach out to you if they have any problems.

  1. They reply saying they do not need the solution in the first place

Response: Thank them for their feedback and assess targeting.

  1. Desire to be not mailed/contacted again 

Response: Remove them from your outreach list. 

  1. Indicate that the prospect did not receive your first email (only relevant for replies on the second email in your sequence) 

Response: send a summary of the first email and send some more information

For each of these possibilities, it is important to adjust your approach depending on the industry you are targeting, the country, the authority in the company, so that you maximise your interaction, without offending anyone or losing opportunities.

Set up calls or demos

After you have sent out your first campaign and established a conversation with decision makers, it is time for the last stage aim, to book a call, free trial or better even, a demo. This will allow you to calculate conversion rates on the whole outreach process to determine the number of prospects, positive replies and demos you need to get one sale.

Converting a lead into a call is often perceived as a high friction point because it can be a decent time commitment from the buyer’s side, so, to maximise the chances of converting as many leads as possible you may use software like Calendly to sync your calendars automatically regarding the time of the meeting.

After you move leads to the bottom of the funnel, it comes to the skills of your sales team in finally closing the deal. We have done a detailed analysis on closing the deal here but below is a quick summary of the same.

There are four steps to closing the deal namely:

  1. Consulting the customer: This is the first step where you speak to the customer, gauge their objections, and deal with them. These can be related to the pricing, the level of customer support, the functionality of the product, etc.
  2. Negotiating the offer: This is often the second step of the deal after your lead asks about moving forward with your solution. When negotiating in B2B, aim for a win-win scenario with the prospect that solves their problems. 
  3. Creating the offer: This step includes creating a contract that includes all the clauses based on the discussion in the negotiation phase.
  4. Closing the deal: The aim when closing a deal is to mitigate the last-minute resistance of prospects and push for the deal to get done at a comfortable pace.

Part 3: Supplement your outbound sales ops

B2B sales are increasingly becoming buyer-focused and to make the B2B sales process highly effective, it is important to bring in technology without compromising on the essential human element in sales. This means you can automate some parts of the outbound sales process, but some of it will need to be handled by your sales teams. Simply put, what you need is a network of empowered sales teams supported by digital capabilities.

Combining a dynamic outreach and cold calling in one holistic approach can do wonders in boosting your outbound sales process. Below are two key aspects to supplementing your outbound sales operations. 

Automation in outbound sales 

With automation in outbound sales, you can take manual tasks away from marketing and sales teams, making them quicker and more reliable. You get to manage the working time of your sales force more effectively; allowing them to concentrate on functions that they do best–building relationships with prospects and closing deals.

Now, with automation, it is important to understand which steps of the outbound sales process can be automated and which cannot. 

In B2B sales, all account management tasks should not be automated. The goal should be to create time for account executives to focus themselves solely on demoing, understanding, consulting the clients so that they can move on to negotiating prices, creating offers and closing deals.

Objection handling and qualifying prospects as opportunities cannot be fully automated, since it requires contextual knowledge of the prospect’s reply. However, after understanding the context, it can be made super-efficient through the use of templates. By creating, evaluating and optimising templates for most of the possible replies, up to 90% of the time can be saved. Besides saving time (and by extension money) creating and consistently using templates helps the objection handling optimisation process.

At a glance, some steps of outbound sales that can be automated are:

-Curation of data

-Cold outreach

-Following-up 

-Scheduling meetings

-Organising and scoring leads

-Contract creation

A highly advanced tool like hubsell uses software intelligence to automate most of the repetitive tasks and combines it with human-powered prospecting to ensure a hundred percent accuracy and efficiency. We also supplement cold calling efforts by systematically syncing your email and social accounts on one dashboard to convert a contact into multiple touchpoints. Our analysis software gives you intent data such as the number of opens, links clicked, filter options for positive or neutral responses that can help you set up automated contextual and conditional follow up responses.

Sales tech integrations

On average, any sales & marketing professional uses at least six different tools to remain competitive in the current environment. Hence, your outreach campaign must be integrated with all these varied tools, such as CRM and your email and social media accounts. Click here to read a detailed outline of all these integration tools on one of our previous blogs.

To summarise, here are the key ones:

-Email automation tool

-Phone and video prospecting software

-Social media accounts

-B2B customer relationship management (CRM) tools

A sales automation tool like hubsell provides you with the possibility to sync your mailbox and social media accounts to its platform and have an outreach across channels. The outreach process closely resembles hand-typed messages manually sent from personal accounts.


What does an ideal outreach campaign look like?

First, there is no right or wrong way to execute an outbound sales campaign. The crucial aspect of any campaign should be that it targets across multiple channels and over several touchpoints.

Since you do not know your prospect’s preferred channel of communication, targeting multiple channels will give you the greatest chance of engaging with them. You will also be able to follow up across several touchpoints professionally after having spread your communication across different platforms.

Depending on the country your prospect lives in, your first touchpoint may have to be a connection request on LinkedIn first because of GDPR. Once your request is accepted, you may then follow up with emails.

You can complete the entire process manually using your CRM to keep track. Alternatively, solutions like hubsell can automate the entire prospecting process, including message creation, sending emails, and other LinkedIn activities.

To take your outreach a step further, intent data from each of your touchpoints can change how you follow up. For example, hubsell’s outreach software can identify if the prospect has opened your previous email and how many times they have opened it. Using this information, we can determine their level of interest and proactively attempt to get on the phone with them instead of sending another email. Other forms of intent data are clicked links and accepted connection requests. Through this “if-this-then-that” sequencing of touchpoints, you can create a campaign that is most likely to generate sales opportunities. 

Below is a general idea of what an ideal outreach campaign should look like:


How hubsell can help

As discussed throughout this post, high-quality B2B data and multichannel outreach automation will be required to find your buyers in the pharmaceutical industry, create effective messaging and reach out to them to book meetings with them.

Our GDPR adherent Data Processing as a Service (DPaaS) processes on-demand B2B data for you, using a mix of research technologies and human-powered data validation, giving you near real-time data with at least 95% accuracy and enriched with over 25 data points.

hubsell integrates with CRM, Gmail and LinkedIn so you can connect all of your relevant sales and marketing tools with hubsell and bring all of your outbound prospecting processes to one dashboard.


Conclusion

B2B sales is never easy but, it gets even more difficult in a highly competitive market like the pharmaceutical industry. One of the best ways of getting around this is by equipping yourself with thorough research and proactive omnichannel outreach. This blog described a three-part process of prospecting and outreach using a sales automation tool like hubsell for ease. The three steps include in-depth research and preparation; omnichannel outreach and opportunity generation and boosting your outbound sales operations with automation and sales tech integrations.


New readers

For those unfamiliar with hubsell, we provide an end-to-end B2B prospecting solution with on-demand generated B2B data and multi-channel personalised outreach automation software to generate qualified sales leads.

Book your discovery call today to see how you can scale your opportunity generation.



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