To scientists, the most valuable laboratory sales representatives are those that make a difference in
their research. Rather than just trying to close the deal, these sales reps go a step further and translate performance specifications into a picture of how the product will help the scientist reach his or her goal faster or more efficiently. Life science suppliers that focus on forging such mutually beneficial relationships will be better able to create real value for their customers.
These findings are elaborated on in the latest life science report published by BioInformatics, LLC "Improving Sales Rep Performance: A Global Analysis." Based on a survey of more than 1,800 scientists, the report offers insights on how life science suppliers can align their sales force recruitment, training and organization in a way that reflects the needs and expectations of scientists in different geographic regions. The report goes beyond this geographic segmentation and also highlights differences between scientists based on their personality type, gender and age.
The report points to the importance of training reps to take the time to learn the details of their customers' research so that they can clearly explain how their product can be used. Reps must also
demonstrate the superiority of their products and justify the cost of switching to a new supplier. According to the survey respondents, being provided with this product information is even more important than pricing information.
"Scientists have a deep commitment to their research and are not willing to jeopardize it. Switching to a different product or using a new technology represents a risk for scientists because they have not experienced the product firsthand and must operate on faith. To be convinced to try a new product, sales reps must explain the benefits, other than just saving money. Using a cheap tip or plate that results in the loss of a rare sample or a failed experiment is not a savings, nor is having to re-validate a lengthy protocol without good reason," said Bill Kelly, President of BioInformatics, LLC.
Life science suppliers should also instruct their sales reps to schedule visits with their customers rather than make impromptu ones. On average, 52% of all sales rep visits are unsolicited or unexpected. Respondents indicated that scheduled visits were more respectful of their time as well as more productive and useful. "When scientists know that a rep is coming in advance, they can prepare questions and even email them ahead of time so that the rep can bring any relevant
literature or information specifically tailored to the customer's concerns. In this way, sales reps are creating more value for their customers and generating goodwill," noted Kelly.
The report also benchmarks the performance of sales forces from more than 40 life science suppliers to help companies identify and address any weaknesses. "Simply reading some of the posts on online discussion forums such as the one on The Science Advisory Board Web site
illustrates how a poorly trained sales force can be quite destructive. One bad sales rep can sour the image of the entire company for a customer and the story of that incident can rapidly spread. By using this report as a guide to better understand scientists, sales reps can increase a company's competitive advantage by delivering value, building brand equity and fostering a positive
image," concluded Kelly.