Electric. That was the consensus description of the sessions from the 80 participants who came from as far away as Sweden to attend the inaugural Annual Meeting of the Association for Commercial Professionals - Life Sciences (SAMPS) in Philadelphia, PA, USA on September 19-20, 2013 at the Doubletree Hotel Center City in Philadelphia.
In fact in the post meeting survey every respondent said they will recommend friends and colleagues attend the 2014 SAMPS Annual Meeting.
An audience comprising everyone from C-level executives to field sales staff from life science products and tools suppliers, contract research organizations (CROs), and consulting organizations filled the room with their best thinking and most objective, constructive feedback on the best practices to differentiate a business while aligning the sales, marketing, and other business strategies to succeed in todays über challenging marketplace.
During the Q & A session an audience member stated, "There are a few companies that provide both products and services. For instance, Covance has an antibodies catalog and is also a leading CRO, and EMD Millipore offers many products and tools as well as bioanalytical contract services. Do you think that we will see a trend toward life science suppliers offering both products and services?" The speakers and other audience members agreed that this was a definite possibility, especially because of the pressure being placed on biopharmaceutical companies related to patent expirations, the result of which is driving cost cutting and causing suppliers to merge. In 2013 there have been two such high-profile mergers including product providers—Thermo and Life Technologies; and service providers—PRA International and ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services.
Bill Kelly of Bioinformatics LLC then captured the attention of the audience with the results of a survey that asked more than 1,000 scientists their thoughts on the value and preparedness of life science sales reps who sold instruments and consumables. Good news mingled with issues of concern, but the report placed all the information in clear view. Jon Myer of Life Science Stratgy Group and Cinda Orr of Scorr Marketing then teamed up with the SAMPS's own Chuck Drucker to present equally compelling data on the performance of sales reps who sell life science and CRO-related services. One of the major findings of the survey was that 50% of respondents felt the sales person does have an impact on the choice of vendor. But what about the other 50%? Closing the sales-rep segment was, Matt Gallagher of the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), who roused the crowd while discussing the curious and productive nature of Challenger sales reps, why, when and how they succeed, and how this information related to other types of sales reps.
The Linus Group's Hamid Ghanadan, author of the highly recommended book Persuading Scientists, reviewed critical differences and opportunities when designing content-marketing strategies for life science researchers, and then stirred the crowd with an introdution to the opportunities created by applying Big Data analytics to a marketing strategy.
The first day wrapped up with a trilogy of presentations and panel discussion about marketing stategies to create greater competitive advantage for life science suppliers. Susan Bish of Bottom Line Technologies shared real-world core strategies and tactics on how life science organizations large and small could analyze their situations and develop and implement plans to make a business stand out within even the most crowded, cutthroat marketplaces. Andy Bertera, Executive Director of Marketing with New England Biolabs (NEB) then pulled back the curtain on how NEB mined their corporate soul and aligned their stengths with customer needs to stand out from much larger competitors. Completing the triplet was Joe Bedford of Taconic, who shared experiences from a decades-long trail of assessing and redesiging strategy to differentiate CRO organizations, along with his process for creating competitive advantage.