Selling To Scientists

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Collette King
By
November 14, 2017

Sales is changing...whether you're ready or not

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Glaselyn Miller, Director of Global Sales and Distribution at Lucigen. Lucigen provides products and services to support NGS, synthetic biology and other molecular biology applications in ISO 13485 compliant environments.

 

Glaselyn and I discussed how sales is changing and how evaluation metrics need to change as well. Below, you’ll find some annotated portions of our interview:


Selling in the Past

10 years ago, if you had asked a salesperson how to succeed in life science sales you would have heard three suggestions:

  1. Walk the halls
  2. Attend trade shows
  3. Don’t forget your catalogs

“A lot of salespeople would go knock on doors bringing people catalogs. It was a pitch about what was in the catalog. It was order-taking most of the time and then they used vendor shows to provide information.” -- Glaselyn Miller, Director Global Sales and Distribution at Lucigen


How Sales has Changed Today

Today, buyers have more information than they have ever had before. Through the internet, buyers have access to your company’s spec sheets, but also every other company’s spec sheet for what are often very similar products.  

 

“Now, I think they have a lot of access to info before the salesperson comes in the door and it’s become a more consultative sales approach. You don’t only introduce a product. Most of the time in a successful sales approach the customer knows what they want they’re just looking for specific applications and features. It has become less of ‘Hi! I’m a rep and here’s a catalog’ to ‘I understand you’re working on a certain application and you are having problems with…’ “ -- Glaselyn Miller


The Biggest Change: Consultative Selling

Salespeople don’t just introduce products anymore; they help customers sort through all of the options, inside and outside of a company’s catalog to find which one will match a customer’s experimental goals.

 

As sales changes, salespeople are increasingly focused on making sure that their customers have access to the right resources to accomplish their goals for each experiment, no matter where those resources are.

 

“You’ll have the sales person be even more technical and more resourceful. They are able to bring different people together, even people outside of their organization like other partners.” -- Glaselyn Miller


New Structural Changes to the Sales Team

Many companies responded to these customer expectations with structural changes that allow salespeople to hyper-focus on certain kinds of customers or certain parts of the funnel.

 

“The larger orgs, such as Promega and Thermo, recognize that the salesperson must understand the needs of the customers to look for and provide value. Technology will provide more resources for identifying the leads and really warming them up for the salespeople. Digital marketing will continue to increase in its ability to reach customers and provide a customized-experience.”   

 

“At Lucigen we’ve identified Inside Sales being a critical position to interface between field sales and serve as the internal champion for the customer, including nurturing the relationships. We want Field Sales to be hunters and then once we bring them in we want Inside Sales to nurture and leverage customer relationship with the internal stakeholders to help expand the product portfolio. Inside Sales is increasing the value they bring because they’re a liaison.” -- Glaselyn Miller



How We Evaluate Salespeople is Changing

Traditionally, sales compensation has been tied directly to the orders that a salesperson brings in because their primary role has been to communicate the spec sheet, get the deal and submit the order. Salespeople were solely responsible for generating new revenue opportunities and their quotas reflected this. A salesperson’s productivity was measured based  on:

  • How much revenue they brought in
  • What kind of revenue they brought in (i.e. new business vs. account expansion, certain product lines, etc.)

These evaluation metrics and incentives are valuable, but they don’t reflect the change in how salespeople provide value. Customers will (and already have) expected a more “Amazon-like” buying experience, but will still expect to access highly technical advice before their purchase and support afterwards. So a highly specialized salesperson might spend more time with fewer customers or they might answer questions and provide materials to a customer who ultimately makes their purchase online a few months later.

 

“I still think that sales will be responsible for generating new revenue opportunities. You need  to have someone responsible for this. The challenge of measuring performance is being able  to track all the things that help close a sale. As CRM and reporting tools become more effective, it will be easier to  track. We consider this now. How do we measure the ability to do account penetration or  generate more touch points with a customer? We want metrics to drive the behavior of our reps in the field. As such, what metrics would support a more consultative approach and train reps to get out of their comfort zones? There will be other metrics besides just revenue growth.” -- Glaselyn Miller

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